Submitting to authority

A couple of weeks ago I briefly mentioned how we need to trust and honour our pastors. We can’t talk about being planted without talking about honouring our spiritual leaders. We must always honour our leaders and submit to them trusting that they are hearing from God about our lives. Submitting to our leaders means that whether we agree with them or not, we are ready and willing to obey what they ask of us and run with their vision for the church. The only exception to the rule is if they ask us to do something that blatantly contradicts the Bible. Even so, we must honour them and never take matters into our own hands. 

We need to take our cue from king David. He was anointed as king as a teenager but it would be years before he actually stepped into that role as king. During that time, Saul remained as king over Israel. One thing we know about king David is that he was a great warrior. He killed Goliath all by himself as a whole army stood watching. Yet, when Saul was chasing him down, not once did he try to retaliate or kill Saul because he respected and honoured Saul as God’s appointed king.

When faced with an opportunity to kill Saul, 1 Samuel 24: 6-7 tells us that, “He [David] said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.”

Further and on a different occasion 1 Samuel 26:9-11 records as follows, ““No!” David said. “Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one? Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed! But take his spear and that jug of water beside his head, and then let’s get out of here!””

So, David didn’t only have one opportunity to kill Saul. He had multiple opportunities yet he chose to keep his heart pure before God by not taking matters into his own hands. Our leaders are human beings. They are not perfect, but we must never take matters into our hands. God appointed them, let God deal with them if we think they have done something wrong. Otherwise, we must be quick to pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life,” Psalm 139:23-24.

I’ve realised that sometimes leaders do make mistakes. But often times I’m just not mature enough to understand what they are doing or I’m having an issue submitting to their authority over my life. So I need to be open to God to deal with me. It’s easy to point the finger at someone else but sometimes we really need to look at ourselves and ask some hard questions and pray some Psalm 139 prayers to get our hearts right with God and so He can help us come in submission to our leaders.

Submission is a heart posture. David was submitted to Saul’s kingship. Does that mean David agreed with what Saul was doing? No, otherwise he would not have run away to spare his life. We must take a lesson from David and know that it is never okay to go after our leaders. Whether actively or passively by talking badly behind their backs.  We are to respect our leaders at all times and should they depart from what’s in the word of God then we ought to pray and seek God’s wisdom on how to handle the situation. In the story of king David, Saul had clearly lost the plot but David waited on God to show him the right way to do things.

All authority is from God (see Romans 13:1-2). Refusing to submit to our leaders is as serious as refusing to submit to God. It is rebellion against God. Let us learn to walk in submission to those who God has put in authority over us regardless of age, gender, experience, race whatever excuse we may try to lean on. It is not worth being in rebellion against God.

Love and blessings,

Melissa Tsingano

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