We do not like the word submission. “I am not submitting to anyone.” “No one is going to tell me what to do.” Before we pronounce our independence and refusal to submit, maybe there is something else we need to consider.

First, God's authority is "inherent." It is His by right. He is our Creator. He has the right to tell us what to do. Our responsibility is to listen and submit.

Second, there is delegated authority. It is defined as, “a person acting for another” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). Delegate, “1. to entrust to another (delegate one's authority); to appoint as one's delegate." Ibid. It is from the Latin, “de,” “from” + “legare,” “send with a commission” (Thorndike-Barnhart Comprehensive Desk Dictionary).

An important note: Respect for delegated authority is related to respect for the Supreme authority who gave it (not the goodness or badness of the person).  “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me” (Lk. 10:16).

Consider a few implications to this. First, there is the importance of respect for delegated authority by those subject to it. When Moses was accused of exalting himself, God told him they were not speaking against him but against the Lord. (Num. 16:3-11). In other words, this is no light or joking matter, nor is it simply an American tradition to be ignored at will.  Second, there is the seriousness of the responsibility on the part of those who are commissioned with delegated authority. Delegated authority is always designed for the good of the governed, never for the selfish ends of the governor. It was sad when the shepherds of Israel took advantage of their flock. God held them accountable (Ezek. 34:1-2). One is fully accountable for the use of delegated authority to the One who entrusted him with it.      

Consider: submission only occurs when there is someone to submit to. Submission does not take place because we agree. It occurs when we disagree. In matters of judgment, someone has been delegated authority for the good of the governed. To submit is to submit to the Lord.

This is true in the family relationship. When men have been delegated the headship, it is for the good of the family. It is the responsibility of the family to submit. There is a partnership. If the husband is considering the good of the family and the family is submitting, there is not abuse, but harmony. Further, it is true of the relationship between the flock and shepherds. If shepherds are overseeing for the good of the flock and the flock is submitting, there is harmony.

But, in either case, if there is refusal to govern for the good of those under authority or refusal to submit by those under delegated authority, there is discord. It is possible for those governing to govern for the good of others and those who submit, to disagree. Because they disagree does not mean those governing are not doing so for the good of those under their authority. It is the responsibility of those under delegated authority to submit. For oversight to function, there must be those who oversee and those who are overseen. It is by agreement, not coercion, in that both submit to one another.

In matters of judgment, there are the ones who govern and the ones who submit.  For either to fail in their responsibility is to fail one another, but failure before the Lord also. Oversight and submission are serious!

Rickie Jenkins