The Significance of Submission

In our Conference of churches, one of our distinctives is that we belong to a  “Connectional” system. What does that mean? We believe local churches are to be accountable and submitted to one other. In other words, we don’t have “stand-alone” congregations. We are part of a larger church family. We have a covering of love, support and authority.

In the New Testament and Early Church we can find no record of an independent church. They just didn’t exist. Every church knew it needed the help of other churches.


In order for us to be connected, one significant quality is needed — submission. We may bristle at that. After all, we are called to lead. We desire to cast vision and make our own decisions. All that is great, but without submission, we are more susceptible to pride and division and deceit. Submission does not mean to be dominated. It is yielding to another because of their authority or responsibility. Paul said that we are to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

Several years ago, Dan Reiland wrote an article entitled, “A Leader’s Great Challenge.” He gave three reasons why we need an attitude of submission. These benefits apply not only to our Conference but to every relationship we have. Here is why submission is so significant.

1) Submission prevents a spirit of rebellion.

There is a time to stand up, even to rebel, but that is rare. Most of our ministry calls us to reconciliation, to get along with others, and be at peace if possible.

As a leader, you “catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.” You go farther and faster over the long haul when you lead in a way that the people go with you, rather than you going against them.

A contrarian leader will always struggle.

2) Submission prevents a spirit of arrogance.

This is not a typical attitude, but on occasion, a leader will act as if they know more and better than everyone else. I don’t think many leaders believe that about themselves, but I have known more than a few that behave as if they do.

Arrogant behavior comes from insecurity more often than actually thinking one knows more than everyone else.

Whatever the source, arrogance will always cause a leader to struggle.

3) Submission prevents a spirit of independence.

Of the three, this is the most common among leaders. It comes from a good place. A healthy independence often resides within a leader who is strong, has a vision and sees a better way. Most churches are planted with the good of this trait.

Independence, however, can be taken too far. Good leadership is never in a vacuum. Good leadership always has context. The Kingdom of God is always larger than any of us lead, and we never lead alone.

Pushed too far, a healthy independence can become an independent spirit, and will cause a leader to struggle.

(Originally posted by Dan Reiland


So how submissive are you? Too often my submission is conditional. I’ll submit as long as I agree. However, submission goes beyond that. It is always humble. Always teachable. Submission follows the example of Jesus, who did not demand his rights, but became a servant and gave his life for us. 

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8

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