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How to address authorityMany Christians have the idea that to give suggestions or even to make a reasonable complaint is a sign of rebellion. This produces passive churches and crushed the creative potential of the members and consequently the work loses its agility and ability to grow and expand.

As I have already mentioned in other posts, submission does not mean complete annulment of the will and good sense. We can and we must contribute to the ministry of the church and provide input for our leaders so that the work grows and prospers. Sometimes therefore, we will have address authority, give suggestions, give criticism and even confront them. However we must learn how to address authority by take the following precautions;

When addressing authority do not use offensive words

We disrespect authority and offend God when we use overly harsh words. We should never use derogatory adjectives to refer to a leader. However, if we do not use wrong words and are not motivated by rebellion, criticism or suggestions can be given without falling into sin. We see some good examples in the lives of the apostles (Acts 6:1-4) and in Martha (John 11:20-24; Luke 10:38-40).

When addressing authority avoid spreading second-hand comments

Be careful with comments like, “everyone is saying …” Or “pastor everyone is saying …” If someone has something to say they should say it directly to the leaders. These types of comments come from an incorrect attitude, they are unacceptable and reveal a dishonest heart; it is typical of those who have no commitment with the truth or anybody but themselves.

When addressing authority avoid making comments that have no traceable source

Another serious and gravely wrong attitude is to make comments like, “someone told me, but I can’t say who it was”, or “someone told me to tell you, but it’s a secret”. This is unacceptable and disrespectful to authority. Whenever we say something to or about a leader, we must say it in a direct and frank manner.

When addressing authority don’t complain, present solutions

We cannot limit ourselves to complaining; on the contrary, we must present solutions, pertinent, intelligent and valid suggestions, with common sense. Before complaining, we must commit ourselves to making things better and to change. However, if after having taken all of these cautions the leader continues to be indifferent and untreatable, there is nothing more that can be done for him, other than pray and allow the Holy Spirit to do His part (Proverbs 21:1).

The Lord delegates authority, but whoever receives it will never be greater than He. God is seated on His throne high and lifted up, and He himself is in control of His work and His church.


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submissive disobedience

Disobedient, yet submissive

Many Christians don’t believe that any type of disobedience should be tolerated nor could it be biblical. However it is possible to be disobedient, while yet remain submissive. This doesn’t mean that we can be rebellious or tolerate a rebellious attitude. However, it is necessary to emphasize that in the Word of God, submission is absolute while obedience is relative. If any representative authority has overstepped the limits imposed by God, then we should not obey it.

Therefore, we can say that a father that prohibits his children from going to church or from giving their lives to Jesus should not be obeyed in this aspect nor should a husband that prohibits his wife from doing these things. Of course this should not be resolved with a challenging, argumentative or railing attitude, but with wisdom, doing the will of God. It is more important to obey God first, and then if possible human authorities. Let us examine several biblical examples that clearly show this.

Five examples of submissive disobedience

1.    Shiphrah and Puah

These two midwives disobeyed Pharaoh’s orders to kill the children and for this they were rewarded by God (Exodus 1:15-17; 21-22). Pharaoh is an example of an authority that although was constituted by God, he overstepped the limits of his authority by directly opposing God’s purposes.

2.   Rahab the prostitute

This woman had committed high treason against her own country when she hid the Hebrew spies to protect them from the authorities of Jericho. But for all of this, despite the fact that she disobeyed the authorities designated by God for the city, she was honored by God and was included in the genealogy of the Messiah Himself (Hebrews 11:3).

3.   Samuel

Saul was still the king that the Lord had given and established to rule over Israel, when Samuel was sent by the same God to anoint another king in his place (1 Samuel 16:1, 2). Such an attitude could easily have been interpreted by Saul as treason, a treacherous crime against the king, and could have cost the death of Samuel the prophet. However, God himself gave Samuel the solution. In order that Saul not find out about these plans, God instructed Samuel to merely tell Saul that he went to sacrifice a lamb to the Lord in the house of Jesse.

4.   Jonathan

At one point Saul ordered Jonathan to kill David. We know that children should obey their parents, but Jonathan did not obey Saul and was right to refuse to do so. (1 Samuel 19).

5.   Shadrach Meshach and Abednego

These three young men did not obey the command to worship the golden image built by King Nebuchadnezzar. They chose to honor God instead. Therefore, they faced the punishment and were thrown into the burning furnace however, God preserve them (Daniel 3:1-26).

6.   The apostles

The Jewish authorities ordered the apostles to stop preaching the gospel of Jesus, to which the apostles responded: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). If the heart is submissive, it is possible to honor the leadership without always obeying it. God’s Word gives us these examples so that we can distinguish between foolish obedience and wise obedience as a reasonable expression of our submission.


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A list of signs of true submission

Signs of true submissionSubmission to authority is a disposition of the heart, and not only a behavior. There are several unmistakable signs that indicate whether a person is submissive to authority or not. Here is a list of some of these behavioral

Those who possess a submissive heart seek out and respond favorably to authority wherever they find it. Those who possess a submissive heart

Those who understand authority don’t isolate themselves because they know that the covering of authority is a protection for their life. Whoever is genuinely submissive seeks to be submissive from the heart not only because it is an obligation. Such a person seeks the leading of the Holy Spirit in order to know to whom he or she must submit.

Those who possess a submissive heart grow in meekness and dependence on God

This happens because they fear making serious mistakes, since they know that their lives are not isolated and that they are part of a team, the body of Christ. They also know that everything a member does affects the entire body. Disciples must be treatable, and must have the revelation of authority in the body as a whole, not acting only toward their own advantage and desires.

Those who possess a submissive heart have a proper understanding of authority and are not overly anxious to have it

The submissive person takes no pleasure in prevailing over the opinions of others or controlling others. Whoever knows what authority is, fears having to exercise it, because he knows that God will judge him more severely. In the Bible, we see that God seems to take pleasure in calling those who are not seeking out positions of leadership. This was the case when he called Moses, Aaron, Abraham, David, the apostles and many others; all of these were called by the Lord while minding their own business and not seeking out fame.

Those who possess a submissive heart are slow to speak and keep their mouths shut

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; (James 1:19)

Some people take pleasure in the mistakes of others, especially when the others are leaders. However, we must not rush to make judgments. Only God has the authority as judge (Matthew 7:1-5). It is better to pray and abstain from giving your own opinion because we have no authority to judge our brother.

Those who possess a submissive heart are very sensitive to rebellion because they know how rebellion contaminates

A person that is submissive to God knows just how terrible the iniquity and abomination of rebellion is, as well as how contaminating it is to people and the atmosphere. Therefore, whoever is truly submissive flees these things.

Those who possess a submissive heart are able to lead others into submission

Jesus spoke with authority, not as the scribes and Pharisees spoke because He lived what He preached. We can know how submissive a person is by whom they associate themselves with and by whom their disciples are. John said that if someone says that they love God and love not his brother, he is lying (1 John 4:20). In the same way, if someone claims to be submissive to God but does not submit to delegated authority, he is lying. An overcomer has learned to be submissive because he understands that authority comes from the throne of God.