A Leader in Submission
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” -Ephesians 5:21
I realize that our society tends to downplay “submission.” We don’t see submission as an admired trait. In fact, we don’t even like the word “submission.” We avoid it, degrade it, make light of it. Rarely do we receive a compliment like, “You are a wonderfully submissive person.” Can you imagine someone telling you, “I really admire how you let your wife influence your decision not to go out with the guys tonight…you are such a good example of loving submission”? In fact, that kind of comment might make us rebel a little just to prove our independence, to assert the fact that we are not hen-pecked. We would much rather hear someone say, “You are such a strong-willed person,” “I love how you take charge,” or “I admire your ability to make strong, independent decisions.” Those are all good compliments, but how do we balance them with “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Fact of the matter is, submission can make or break a family. Research suggests that a man’s willingness to accept the influence of his wife–his willingness to listen to her and allow her to influence his ideas–strengthens his marriage. Dr. Gottman, the “love lab guru,” suggests that if a man does not submit to his wife’s ideas by listening and sharing power, the relationship ends in divorce 80% of the time! In other words, a man needs to be a leader of submission in his family. He needs to model submission. Don’t get me wrong, marriages benefit when women submit to their husbands as well. A man will feel unappreciated, mistrusted, and undervalued if his wife does not submit to him and accept his influence. How can he teach his children to respect others if his wife does not respect him through submission? On the other hand, a woman may begin to feel isolated, unheard, invalidated, and uncared for if her husband does not submit by listening to and accepting her influence. How can she truly care for her family if her husband constantly undermines her efforts to teach their children the responsibility of household chores (and vice versa)? If a married couple does not submit to each other and support one another in their efforts to build a family, the children will follow their example, refusing to listen and denying the influence of their parents. (Take a survey to see how much influence you accept from others.)
Overall, families benefit from a mutual effort to find areas of surrender and compromise. Families grow stronger when each person listens intently and honestly, exhibiting a willingness to accept the ideas and opinions of other family members, and remaining open to being influenced by those ideas and opinions. Families benefit from mutual submission.
I can hear it now…”You want me to let him (or her) walk all over me?” “I should let her (or him) run my life?” Of course not. Submission is not slavery. It’s not abusive. In fact, if a person moves from submission and accepting influence to demanding unquestioned obedience, their marriage and family life are doomed. Effective submission involves mutual respect and trust. Couples find it easier to submit to a spouse when he/she submits as well, showing respect and honor. Husbands and wives more readily submit to one another when they know their spouse has their best interest at heart, when they trust one another and when they know that their loves is reciprocated. In the midst of this mutual submission, children learn to trust, listen, respect, and accept influence; they learn to submit. They feel safe submitting to their parents’ rules because they have seen submission modeled. They have witnessed the benefits of submission. They have experienced the security of a strong relationship marked by mutual submission.
So, be a leader in submission. Go ahead and say “Yes dear” now and again…or “OK, I’ll do it your way this time.” It will go a long way in building mutual trust, respect, and intimacy in your family.