Submitting to Authority

There is a lot of debate right now over the idea of submitting ourselves to those in authority, especially human authority within the local church. One crowd says that God’s approval and His authority is all we should seek and human authority is too corrupt to trust. Another group says no major decisions can be made unless approval is given from someone or some group of people here on the earth.

I understand the risk of submitting my life to others. What if they have hidden or impure motives attached to their counsel? What if their real goal is to manipulate me or control me somehow? What if they really don’t care about my personal welfare and actually desire my harm?

When I am faced with these types of choices, I ultimately yield to scripture because it is my guide for life. Here are some passages for all of us to consider:

Romans 13:1-2 NIV – “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

This is talking primarily about government rulers, but the command is still clear. We should submit ourselves to them and ultimately trust God.  Obviously, we should never do evil things or commit sin even if a ruler tells us to do so. This scripture is not telling us to be robots or to throw away our moral compass. The real issue is a heart issue. Are we rebellious at our core? Can we be lead by anyone? Can anyone tell us what to do?

Here is another passage to meditate upon this week:

Hebrews 13:17 NIV – “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

I believe we only have as much authority from God as we are willing to submit to.  I have willingly submitted myself to human authority and God has entrusted me with authority to lead in the local church. With this authority, I am supposed to serve, lead and protect those entrusted to my care. Notice, this scripture says those who have been given authority must one day give an account of how they used it. Therefore, if I use my authority incorrectly, God will judge those motives when I stand before Him in heaven.

It also says that we, as followers, can make this assignment a joy or a burden for our leaders. I hope I have added joy to the lives of Robert Morris, Tom Lane, Jimmy Evans, Jack Hayford and Larry Stockstill. These men, along with the elders of New Life, are all leaders who can correct and challenge me. I have given all of them permission to tell me “no”.

Do you have trusted leaders in your life? Do you have someone who can tell you “no” or even challenge you when you believe you have a command from God? If so, you are a person that God ultimately will trust with authority. If not, you may one day find yourself in a place of authority, but will be ill prepared to exercise that authority for the good of God’s Kingdom.

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  1. I think it is important to submit our selves to a higher authority. Not only is it a requirement according to Gods word, but I am not always wise in decision making so therefor I should seek council for advise. I will always do what is told if that person is deeply rooted in the walk with the Lord and through prayer, however I will not submit myself to fools. P.S. please check your email Brady at and tell me your thoughts on Acacia park. Thanks

  2. What a great blog, and so much to think about. As a woman and wife under a husband’s authority,
    I wholeheartedly agree with your blog….I believe all authority is established by God. Jesus appoints leaders in the church, so I can rest in His choices. One of His prerequisites to lead is humility. My standard line in horse training: You shouldn’t lead until you have learned to follow. I have raised an orphan colt who was not disciplined, and it was an uphill battle since he did not have a strong mother figure to nip at him and bring junior back into the proper line of authority in the herd.
    I do have one comment regarding women submitting to authority. I believe that the phrase so often used in the context of submission to authority is “unto the Lord,” which does give us a personal responsibility in submitting one to another. For instance Sarah, Abraham’s wife was asked by her husband to lie about her relationship to him. She was later rebuked for this….Sapphira agreed with her husband Ananias, in his deception, and she was held accountable. In fact this act of disobedience cost her her life. As we submit to authority “as unto the Lord,” wisdom is required, along with a gentle quiet spirit.
    Thankyou for leading with humility, gentleness, and firmness.

  3. God blesses our submission to authority, even when that person placed in authority seems un-wise or foolish, as often seems to exist in work environments. If we rebel or harden our hearts against them, we often miss out on valuable things God wants to work in US. It’s when we submit and pray and serve that we see blessing in unexpected ways… and many times change in the authority itself.

  4. P.S.~

    Great post. =^) This is definitely a HUGE issue in Christian culture today. Specifically American Christian culture. So many leaders think they have somehow matured past the point of needing authority/accountability in their lives. I’m sure you’ve read Stockstill’s The Remnant. I loved how concise, clear, and totally ground shaking it is. Things we should already know, already be doing… and yet, we’ve fallen away from the basics. Oh, this gets me all fired up!!! Let’s go! Let’s take the message out and change the world!!!

    Wait. That’s what you’re already doing. =^)

  5. WOW great blog should have been reading a long time ago. Great subject. Can we get something on how this is supposed to work in the family. So many of us didn’t have parents that taught how authority works in the home so when it came or comes to our own kids we have had to learn the hard way. If we can instill in our kids hearts how authority works in the home, I think, how it works outside the home is much more easily taught. Follow in humility and lead in humility and the blessings follow. Our human nature/flesh so fights against submission(pride) that I believe it is one of the hardest lessons we learn. We are so aware of and looking for the imperfections in leadership that we fail to see and hear what God himself is trying to say and we miss so much blessing it probably sickens the Lord. To be the followers we’re supposed to be, don’t we think, it takes just as much humility as it does to actually lead well. Is that one of the things that the body of Christ is missing? We expect perfection from leaders but not from ourselves. I’m certian the only perfect man is/was Jesus. Thank you for adressing this subject I think it is on of the foundations of a successful Christian walk.

  6. Powerful… I know I am under attack because as I read your words…. I had to stuggle to not apply them to my life. Something in my brian kept saying, “I dont need to do that!” Thank you … much needed in my life now.

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