Several years ago at a meeting of the American Psychological Association, Jack Lipton, a psychologist at Union College, and R. Scott Builione, a graduate student at Columbia University, presented their findings on how members of the various sections of 11 major symphony orchestras perceived each other.
The percussionists were viewed as insensitive, unintelligent, and hard-of-hearing, yet fun-loving. String players were seen as arrogant, stuffy, and unathletic. The orchestra members overwhelmingly chose “loud” as the primary adjective to describe the brass players. Woodwind players seemed to be held in the highest esteem, described as quiet and meticulous, though a bit egotistical.
Interesting findings, to say the least! One wonders, especially one with no musical ability, how fifty or so divergent personalities and perceptions, with over twenty different musical instruments, could ever come together to make such wonderful music!?
Yet the answer is simple: regardless of how those musicians view each other, they subordinate their feelings and biases to the leadership of the conductor. Under his guidance, they play beautiful music.
Success in a group effort always requires mutual submission of each individual for the good of the group. This is true in business, in sports and in the Lord’s family. The Bible teaches that in our spiritual relationships we must learn to submit to one to another according to the will of God.
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet 5:5)
“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Heb 13:17)
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21)
The word “submit” according to Thayer means: 1) to arrange under, to subordinate 2) to subject, to put in subjection 3) to subject oneself, to obey 4) to submit to one’s control 5) to yield to one’s admonition or advice 6) to obey, to be subject.” He goes on to point out that it was “a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader.” In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.
It is interesting that the admonition to “submit to one another” in Ephesians 5:21 precedes Paul’s command for wives to submit to their husbands, which is followed by children obeying the parents and slaves being in submission to their Masters. It is obvious in those cases there is a God given role in terms of authority.
But how do we submit to one another, especially a husband to a wife, or a parent to a child, or a master to a slave?
Submission has to do with meeting the needs of another. Of serving others. Of engaging in mutual ministry. It makes no difference where the authority is vested, nor does it lessen the responsibility to respect authority in a specific relationship.
Jesus has been given all authority. Yet He came to serve the needs of others. And ultimately gave Himself to die for our sins. God gave Pastors the role of authority in the local church to “feed the flock. However, they are servant-leaders, meeting the needs of those entrusted to their care. God ordained the husband to be the head of the home. Yet, he lovingly serves the needs of his wife and children. In the same way, Christians must be willing to subordinate their own feelings and desires for the greater good within the Body of Christ.
Colly Caldwell put this way “We must submit to our fellow Christians,” We can all learn from any fellow Christian. We can be corrected by any Christian. It is the selfish, insecure follower of Christ who cannot recognize God’s arrangements for peace and well being and who insists upon his own will.”
In a “me first” culture, this command seems outdated. Yet, when properly followed, it would solve many of our relationship conflicts in the 21st century.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman