This past weekend my wife and I were invited to share to the singles from our church, Victory Fort. We talked about the seasons of life that God brings us through and boundaries that would be wise to keep in preparation for marriage.
We always enjoy the chance to share on these topics, but being with these people just made the experience much more meaningful. Everyone was so game! They put in so much passion, energy, and excellence to the program, games, and even the costumes were professional level! Most of all, it was a great time of connecting to God and to one another. The roar of the wind and strong rains were not able to stifle what God was doing there.
I also learned something right from the beginning. Since it was a retreat, I was thinking “casual” and I asked if I could share my first message in shorts and slippers. My wife and I thought it would be fine. (She just said now that she never thought it was fine. So apparently, it was my decision alone.) The thing is, I asked Harvard who was one of the leaders planning the event. And most of the time he’s dressed very excellently. He said it would be a good idea to change to pants and shoes.
Now, Harvard is not a pastor. He was participating as a volunteer. He brings a large amount of practical experience and insight into these ministry settings. Technically, I could’ve tried to override his decision and stick to my own comfort. But I submitted to him. Because even though I am a pastor and the guest speaker, he was responsible for the event. Thank you, Harvard, for telling me what was best for the event.
It reminded me of two truths about life and leadership.
If you’re the leader, you have the right and responsibility to take charge. I’m glad Harvard didn’t give in to my demands just because I was the guest. He made a clear decision. Whatever your leadership role, if you’re in charge, then own that role and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But polite, gentle, sensitive, but don’t abandon your post.
During our Ignite conference last May, I tried to enter a backstage area but forgot the corresponding ID that granted access. The usher in charge stopped me and told me to go around the long way. She didn’t care that I was one of the planners. She was told to let only a certain group of people in and she owned that role. I thanked her for doing her job so diligently then took the long way around like she said.
If you’re following, you must make the decision to submit. I lead in other settings, but at this camp Pastor Jonathan and Harvard were in charge. I submitted to them there. Wherever we are, one of the wisest things we can do is submit to the governing authorities.
If you live at home, it’s your parents. Are they curfew nazis who are repressing your freedom? Submit anyway while you’re under they’re authority.
If a security guard in the mall stops you to check your bag, submit. Your private school education, exclusive subdivision, the car you drive, the money in your bank account aren’t relevant here. He’s the guard and his job is to search. Just go with it. This goes for MMDA, policemen too.
Your teachers might be the bane of your existence, but they have authority in the classroom. You can always take your business somewhere else if you really don’t like them.
It’s true that authorities can be wrong as well. And we must take them to task when they are. (Like when they’re admittedly too incompetent or dishonest to know when an NGO is real or fake.)
But there are two balancing thoughts to that:
1. We hold them accountable by appealing to a higher authority: the law, justice, fairness, peace, God’s word, etc. Not by being anarchic and selfish.
2. From my own personal experience, I find that I resent and rebel against authorities because they interfered with my preferences. So when I’m confronted by my own pride like this, I submit. And like in this case, put on pants and shoes.