I have been struck lately about the elements of leadership. To avoid writing a post that is too long again, I’ll just share what my daughter has taught me recently.
A week ago she was with me in the kitchen, and my 2 year old-Miss Independent-LET ME DO IT had decided that she knew the best way to get around the kitchen table to the back door– there were more chairs than normal due to having Will’s family down recently and the kitchen was a bit disheveled. I was holding her hand (I can’t remember why at the time) and noted that she was trying to take the lead. The path she chose was the more difficult one (involving many chairs and a tight squeeze). I told her to let me lead, and gently pulled her back in order to choose the best path.
This preceded a situation in which Eila, Asher, and myself were leaving our local public library following our beloved Toddler Time. This time it was far more critical that I lead, as we were navigating a busy parking lot that was designed in such a way that visibility of little people was poor. Again, Eila tried to lead and needed me to guide her. This situation was different, however, in that she knows the rules in parking lots, and in her determination to be in control, she was not only wilfully disobeying, but could have been seriously injured.
I started thinking about my own tendency to want to lead, to think I know the best way. Even though, as a Christian, I claim to be holding God’s hand, I try to pull in the direction I want to go rather than waiting for Him to show me the best way. I imagine the Lord regularly saying, “Let me lead”, and using a variety of circumstances to try to pull me back from the way I think is best. Sometimes I pull back, and in the characteristic (and perhaps whiny?) way of a child, say “But, God, I want to go this way!” That’s when it get’s even more serious.
Rebellion is defined as opposition to authority. Whether on the level of a child with a parent, an employee with her employer, or a person who thinks they know better than God, it runs rampant in our culture. When my child attempts to do things her own way, particularly after I’ve stated how I want her to do it, that is rebellion. When an employee disagrees with an employer and refuses to do what they are asked to do or is disrespectful with words and attitude, that is rebellion. Whether or not the person in authority is right or wrong in my eyes, whether I like them or not, as a Christian, I am called to be respectful of authority and obedient (obviously, there are a few exceptions, such as being asked to do something wrong or illegal).
And of course, in the case of a person who thinks they know better than God- that one is easy, as no one, not one single person, does.
As I thought about my child’s born instinct (sin!) to disobey and attempt her own way, I thought not only about how I do that with the Lord, but also with my husband. Will has been placed as the head of our home, and as the head of our relationship. We make decisions together, but ultimately, if we cannot come to an agreement, I am to submit to him. And that grates sometimes. It’s not easy. I may think he is positively wrong and that my solution is best, but ultimately, I have to fight my desire to rebel and let him make the call. Let me be clear, I am not so good at this. But I am better than I was 5 years ago. Usually. 🙂
As a parent, the Lord placed me in authority. Husbands are placed in authority over their wives. Employers are placed in authority over employees. Government leaders, no matter how much we may disagree with policies and actions taken while in office, are placed in authority. And who placed them in those positions? God. So ultimately, when we rebel against those in authority over us, we are rebelling against God. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for disagreement or that we can’t share our own viewpoints, but it needs to be done with respect and the understanding that ultimately, we don’t get to call the shots and that authority was created by God. It is God approved. It is part of the order that He established.
Romans 13:1-2 states, “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. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement upon themselves.”
Wow. It’s pretty clear that the Lord takes authority seriously. l don’t mean to be preachy, but as I thought about all these things, it hit me how I need to work on taking it more seriously as well.
When I look back to my little girl, I see how important it is for me to model obedience and respect in how I respond to those in authority over me. And as I grow in Christ, I have noticed that my desire to be lead grows stronger also. There is security and a freedom in relying on those appointed to lead us, especially if we know they strive to follow God. A huge lesson that came packaged in the form of a 2 year old with brown curls, a determined attitude, and a need to be led.
Speaking of leading, I love this song.