The Disciplines: Submission
What are “spiritual disciplines?” Author and pastor John Piper describes them this way:
“The spiritual disciplines are those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are habits of devotion, habits of experiential Christianity that have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times.”
If something’s been practiced by believers since biblical times, it’s probably pretty important, right?
The answer is, of course, a resounding “Yes!” Yet many of us struggle to make these disciplines habits.
Today, we want to focus on just one of the many spiritual disciplines to help you grow in your walk with Jesus and equip you to begin to make these disciplines part of your daily life.
Let’s take a close look at the discipline of submission.
Submission is a voluntary yielding to the authority or desire of another. Today, we often view this as a sign of weakness.
So, what does the habit of yielding to the authority of God look like in your life?
Mark 8:34–36 says this about submission,
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he [Jesus] said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.’”
We see in this passage that true followers of Jesus must submit to His authority. They must deny themselves — that’s hard! The good news is Jesus not only tells us the importance of submission, but perfectly models what it looks like.
As recorded in John 6:38, He says,
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
Jesus submitted to the Father when He came to earth. And He continued that submission all the way to the cross. Why? Hebrews 12 says He did it “for the joy set before Him.” That’s right, the joy. When Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8), He taught us not only the importance of submission — but the joy of it. The truth is, living in submission to the God who created you, saved you, and perfectly loves you is the only way to experience true, lasting joy.
Well then, for the joy set before us, let’s take a moment to learn more about what Christian submission is and how we can begin to put this practice into our daily rhythms.
We can try to cling to the world. We can hold on to our own lives and try to pursue our own story, desires, and appetites. Or we can go back to the challenge Jesus gave us in Mark 8 and submit to Him, denying ourselves to follow Him.
Take a moment to reflect on the following questions and assess where you are in your practice of submission:
1️⃣ As people, our default is to make decisions based on our own thoughts and feelings. Are there areas in your life where you’re chasing your own desires instead of joyfully following the way of Jesus?
2️⃣ It could be said that the opposite of submission is entitlement. How does this type of posture damage our relationship with the Lord?
3️⃣ How has submission to Jesus helped you in your viewing of the Lord?
To quote John Piper, “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.” This week, find ways to be intentional in the habit of submission by pushing away the temptation to live with entitlement. Spend time in prayer asking God to show you what a step of faith in the area of submission looks like. As you work toward implementing this habit into your rhythms, bring a friend or a member of your Life Group into your plan as well and hold each other accountable. Then, share all the exciting ways you begin to see God move in your life out of obedience to Him.