We are continuing our series of how we can build rich, satisfying relationships. The key points from last month included:
Communication is the basis for life.
Power Principle #1: Put Jesus in the Middle
Power Principle #2: Incorporate Active Listening
Building healthy relationships can be challenging. Without rich, satisfying relationships, life lacks color and vibrancy. With rich, satisfying relationships, the ordinary lights up like a rainbow. So how do we add color to our lives and to those around us? Implementing the power principles and avoiding the pitfalls. We will be adding two more power principles this month. These two concepts are not for the faint hearted, but when embraced will add empowering stability to your faith journey.
Everyone approaches relationship building with a different family model, a unique personality, past hurts and wounds, and varying skill levels of expressing their ideas and enforcing their boundaries. We can learn to overcome these differences as we develop new ways of thinking about relationships.
Power Principle #3: Recognize Authority and Embrace Submission
Submission has become a dirty word and a godly principle people want to ignore because of the mis-use of authority by leaders to manipulate and control other people. Please don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Christ operated in submission to the Father at all times; He is our role-model. This principle will be brought into balance by Principle #4.
As I trained for ministry, I learned that God is the one who established authority in the earth. Even Jesus taught to give unto Caesar's what was Caesar's and unto God what was God's. Of course there are times to disobey unhealthy authority figures, but I have found a general principle that has served me well for over 30 years:
Find the authority figure in the room and willingly submit.
This concept does not mean to forget you have a brain, nor does it mean to leave your free will at the door. It does mean that going against proper authority is not wise. It is better to recognize the authority God has in place and work within the environment to build relationships and encourage growth and change. Openly criticizing authority figures, whether they be our spouse, parent, boss, or pastor can create walls of hard feelings or mistrust that can be hard to repair. Privately bringing our concerns to those in authority and seeking mutual understanding and growth develops trust and creates an atmosphere where learning is fostered through a process of successes and failures.
Now I can hear some of you saying, "But you don't know what they did and how they hurt me in the past!" I share your pain and have been there many, many times. The Lord has asked me many times to trust Him to be my vindicator and my advocate. There is definitely a maturing work that happens on the inside of me as I stay connected to a family/ work/ church unit that is in an growing process while God is speaking to and changing my leader or group environment.
Biblical submission is yielding to the will or authority of another person. We choose to submit. If we are not choosing to yield our will, then it is manipulation or domination. This is not Biblical submission. We can choose to yield or submit for the benefit of the whole, even while not agreeing with what the authority has set in place. We can also choose to not submit when what is being done is ungodly or harmful.
Ephesians 5:21 gives us a very clear directive that believers are to "submit to one another in the fear of God". Submission is one of the ways that we can keep Jesus in the middle of our relationships (Part 1 of this series). Submission is also an expression of the humility that should mark our life as believers. 1 Peter 5:5 encourages us to: "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.”
This leads us to our fourth power principle.
Power Principle #4: Enforce Personal Boundaries
When we are in relationships, we get to choose whether to stay in those relationships or not. We also get to choose how close we are going to let the other person into our inner circle.
Boundaries are very important so that we always stay in full ownership and control over our lives. God's Word never encourages us to give up control over our destiny to our spouse, boss, or pastor. Our Father is who we answer to. If we are married, we are to submit one to another; if we are a wife, we are to submit to our husband, who has the calling of loving his wife and giving himself for her. (Ephesians 5) And yet while the husband has the higher authority level in the family unit, Christ is the head of each individual, spiritually speaking. Christ is our first priority and the author and finisher of each person's faith. (Heb 12:2)
When we enforce our personal boundaries, we maintain our personal responsibility and ownership over what and who we will partner with. There are no perfect authority figures. I believe the Lord does not want us to voluntarily stay under any authority figure who is spiritually abusing us or teaching us false doctrines. Similarly, I do not believe the Lord wants us to violate his Word in obedience to our boss.
On the other hand, famous giants of the faith were not perfect leaders as they held places of authority. We cannot hold our leaders to a standard of perfection as our measuring stick for whether or not we will submit to godly authority or counsel. We need apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists to speak into our lives and equip us for the work of the ministry. It is only when we willingly submit to and honor their place in our lives will we gain the benefit of all they have to teach and impart unto us.
It is our own conscience that must determine what boundaries we are going to set for ourselves. We see this concept in 1 Timothy 1:5, "Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith". I encourage you to pray for a spirit of wisdom so that you will not only recognize authority and embrace one another in submission, but to be wise in setting proper boundaries for your benefit and for the benefit of those less mature in the faith.
Wow! That is some heavy stuff. BUT -- rich, satisfying relationships do not magically appear, but are built on godly principles that provide an eternal foundation that will not be moved even when we are under attack or experience loss or disappointment.
Next month, Part 3 on building rich, satisfying relationships.
Question 1: Do you struggle with submitting to the authority figures in your life? If yes, ask God to help you work through your mistrust issues so you can enjoy the benefits good leadership brings.
Question 2: Do you set healthy boundaries for your relationships? The book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is an excellent resource.
Please take 1 minute to share on our contact tab what challenged
you in this blog post or suggested blog posts for the future.