Wednesday, March 26, 2008

There are no friendly civilians!

About a year ago, in a sermon on Hebrews 13:17, Lance Ward gave some myths regarding submission:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
-Hebrews 13:17, ESV (emphasis mine)
1. Submission is the absence of disagreement.
"It is never wrong to disagree with people in the church. It is always wrong to be disagreeable."

2. Submission is the absence of accountability.
Leaders can still be and should be held accountable. A lack of submission is instead talking about the leader behind his back. Submission will still confront out of love.

3. Submission is not the squelching of non-leader leaders.
Natural leaders are needed, though they may not have a leadership position. But, such leaders need to be careful not to clash or openly rebel against the leadership, who may not embrace the agenda of the non-leader leaders.

Let me add a few thoughts of my own regarding submission in church ...

1. Submission is a tough pill to swallow, whether it's a wife to a husband (Eph 5:22-24), a child to a parent (Eph 6:1-3), or a sheep to an undershepherd (Heb 13:17). Any leader, especially in a church, worth his salt understands that. He prefers to have enthusiastic and devoted followers, not just those who grudgingly follow. (This ties into the 2nd part of Heb 13:17 - "Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.")

2. Far too many people leave churches rather than be submissive. Most people don't leave their churches because their churches have theological flaws that the leadership won't address, and perhaps they should. It's one thing to leave a church because the doctrine and practice is incongruent with biblical teaching. It's another to leave because your feelings got hurt or because a vote didn't go your way.

3. Submission is good for sanctification. Sanctification is our growing in grace, maturing as Christians. That happens best when we are put in situations that enable growth, situations that provide a fertile seedbed for the Fruit of the Spirit. When things don't go my way at church or I'm wronged, it's then that I get to display Christlike character (e.g., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). Immaturity pouts, complains, gossips, criticizes, and/or leaves.

4. Submission may be un-American, but it's biblical. Try in vain will you to find biblical verbiage such as "no taxation without representation," but even church folk can be prone to the mindset that they don't have to do or support anything or anyone they personally didn't vote for. It's trendy to be anti-Clinton or anti-Bush or anti-the next president and demonstrate that with a "he/she's not my president" bumper sticker. But church isn't a democracy; it's a theocracy. God is in charge and He's given particular leaders to shepherd His flock and they are due honor as such (1 Tim 5:17).

5. Christians are slaves/servants of Christ, which will often mean submitting to those we deem unworthy
, whether that be in the church or in the world (Rom 13:1-7). You won't truly ever have worthy leaders, nor will you ever be a worthy follower. But unworthy followers follow unworthy leaders because Christ is worthy and His church and reputation are worthwhile.


At 26 March, 2008 14:44, Blogger samurai said...

Some excellent thoughts (Biblical truths) to chew one. Thanks.

At 26 March, 2008 14:53, Blogger Timothy said...

All right, that is going into the sermon on Sunday... since I'm preaching on the 5th Commandment. Thanks Lance, thanks Gunny. I will give credit, but I doubt any of my congregation will know who Lance and Gunny are.

At 26 March, 2008 17:39, Anonymous Chris said...

Good stuff.

Few things makes the hair on the back of our culture's neck stand up like the word "submit." Use it and people immediately think you are an ecclesiastical Archie Bunker.

I'll be pasting this into a note on Hebrews 13:17.

At 26 March, 2008 18:15, Blogger Rev. said...

Dude! You now some folks are going to disagree with this authoritarian rant, don't you? ;)

At 27 March, 2008 01:25, Blogger Kyle said...

In regards to a recent conversation concerning such things:

"Come on, seriously, what shepherd takes orders from the sheep?"

At 27 March, 2008 01:46, Blogger GUNNY said...


Thanks, brother. It's an interesting topic and writing on it doesn't make me an expert on doing it!


They might not know us now, but after throwing us some love in the sermon on Sunday ... well, let's just say our stock is gonna skyrocket!


"ecclesiastical Archie Bunker" ... that's a gem. I'll file that away for future reference.


Come to attention, Chaplain! You will respect my author-a-tay! When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you! ... uh ... you got my back, right?


Whoop! When you put it like that, it's tomfoolery of the highest order, isn't it?

Yet, I was once told ... in a business meeting, no less ... "We pay your salary!" as the rationale for me to do what I was being told.


At 27 March, 2008 08:17, Blogger Lance said...

Gunny: Thanks for the plug and add'l insights.

The sermon was part 1 of 2, concerning leadership and followership in the Body (from Heb. 13). Both sermons were received well and seemed to clarify for people why following shepherds is so important to a healthy Body.

The second sermon addressed the "why" of submission from flock to shepherd.

If anyone would be interested in the sermon outlines, please email me at

At 27 March, 2008 08:27, Blogger GUNNY said...

I did not know that. That is just wild. That is just wild, wacky stuff.

I would certainly be one of those interested in the outline action.

I was rummaging through some old cag and came across those notes I took while listening to your sermon. I couldn't find that sermon (in audio or written form) on my computer, and after about a year I was happy to just have the myths.

Who knew there was some "Why?" action as well?!

Thanks, brother. It just goes to show, you never know who might be listening or who might benefit even a year or so later.

At 27 March, 2008 10:16, Blogger Oilcan said...

I am one of those who pays Gunny's salary, but it was not I that said it during a business meeting at our old place, although I am a witness to it being said and Gunny's testimony is true. Thankfully, "We pay your salary" is now just a favorite punchline at our new church.

I am also a deacon at Gunny's new church, which means it is my job to police Gunny and keep him in check and thwart his leadership when necessary. Wait . . . oops . . . that was the mentality of that old place creeping back. My bad. I am suppose to serve the church.

At 27 March, 2008 10:16, Anonymous Lionel said...

But what if I am better looking than the Shepherd?

At 29 March, 2008 10:09, Blogger Rev. said...


You know I've got your 6.

At 29 March, 2008 10:13, Blogger Rev. said...

Gunny, you know I've got your 6. I'm your friend Eric! I was there with you knee-deep in all that blood and guts. I covered your 6 more than once. Seems like bailing you out of trouble's got to be a life-time achievement for me.

At 29 March, 2008 10:24, Blogger GUNNY said...

All I wanted was something to eat. But the man kept pushing, Sir.


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