I am struggling today to understand submission to God, and then how that plays out in submission to our leaders.
I believe that submission is first of all accepting the place God has in authority over us. Submission is a matter of our heart, not our mind or intellect. It is not simply having the right attitude but is a product of the heart. As we change our heart and submit ourselves to the Lord we make him bigger than any of our desires and we “magnify” and “glorify” Him. We turn away from evil and false ways and move toward love and obedience. No other condition of our heart can make us acceptable to God. We need to have the heart attitude of “not my will, but thy will”. We submit to the commands and directives that are given.
Scripture also tells us to obey and submit to our leaders (Hebrews 13:17). In that we are to please our leaders and honor them. We are to obey their directives and not question or defy their leadership. We are to cooperate with them and make their job a joy.
So how far does submission go? Is it okay to ask questions? Can we ask for clarity, and if so are their correct and incorrect places to do that (e.g. Can we ask for clarity in front of others or does it need to happen only in private?). Are we supposed to submit without question? Are we supposed to submit in the face of abusive leadership? When does submission to leaders end?
My leaders said I was not submissive and I am still trying to identify what was incorrect in my behavior. I would say I did not meet with them when they asked and I spoke to someone about my miscommunication with the pastor (in an effort to resolve it not to gossip). Now I have been told that communication to express my repentance and desire to pay restitution and find reconciliation which was emailed to a few members of the church body was unsubmissive because the elders told me that I was “no longer welcome to associate with anyone involved” at the church. I didn’t recognize this was sinful and unsubmissive. I have now been told “we are telling you to not contact anyone in our community, in any capacity” and yet I have not been given any avenue for repentance, reconciliation, healing, or restoration. I want to know what God’s view of submission is and don’t know if I am just being unteachable but their reaction seems extreme especially since there was no joy over my repentance, growth, change, and healing. Was I unsubmissive, or are they holding a strong and almost toxic line?