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Reflections: Leading and Following

I am a middle child. While some kids don’t like being in the middle, I loved it.  I always had a playmate!  Of course, I also had more than a few conflicts with my older sister and younger brother. With my sister, the conflicts would happen when I rebelled against her self-appointed leadership.  With my brother, he sometimes chafed under my decision to rule with a (small) iron fist. Little did I know at the time, my childhood is an example of what sinful following and sinful leadership look like.

In his sermon on Sunday, Chris preached on Mark 3:7-12. Near the end of his sermon, Chris made the statement that “leaders serve and followers submit.” He then made a statement that I wrote down:

Leadership + Pride = Tyranny

Following + Pride = Rebellion

And conversely:

Leadership + Humility = Service

Following + Humility = Submission

As a child, I functioned with a healthy dose of pride in my leadership and even in my following, which means that my interactions with my sister and brother were infected with both tyranny and rebellion. Thankfully, the examples from my childhood are just stories my siblings and I laugh at now, but the tendency to inject pride into similar situations remains a very present danger.

Every day, I have many opportunities for both leading and following. Marriage has been a great means of training in both areas for me. The first lesson came in leadership. God gave me a husband who reflects Christ in his servant leadership, and Andy’s example calls me to approach leadership with Christ’s love and humility.

Because of the way Andy leads me, most would assume it would be easy to submit to him. The fact that I can STILL struggle with submission at times shows that the problem isn’t in my external circumstances, but in my heart. After all, if I can’t submit to someone who loves and serves me, to whom can I submit?

The pride that fights submitting to my husband is the same pride that rails against God’s authority in my life when things don’t go my way. One scripture that has helped me regain a proper perspective in these situations is Isaiah 55:8-9: “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.’”

Understanding God as the sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent, loving, just, omniscient, gracious (the list could continue much longer) ruler of the universe kills my pride and replaces it with humility. And because I know and trust Him, I can also submit to the man whom God has graciously placed over me, my Andy.

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