We are completing yet another season of a discipleship class I was involved in. This season has been different. It has had a new set of challenges. At times I wondered if it was a season I would complete yet God remained faithful through it all and taught me so much along the way.Looking back, my biggest lesson this season has been on humility. I have even written several blogposts on this over the last few months.
But as the season comes to an end, I am convinced that the biggest lesson I got from all these was on submission.
Even from a kneeling president
This past week there was a picture of the President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, who was also recently named by Forbes as 71st most powerful woman in the world in 2012 and named 47th in 2013, kneeling down to greet her fellow African President, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania during an official function. She was quoted saying that this according to her culture was a sign of respect.
This simple act seems to have caught the attention of many and afforded a lot of comments on social media. Comments on how such acts return as women to pre-beijing period. Comments asking why she would kneel to her peers; different comments! I do not pretend to understand the rationale behind why she did it, but this is my conviction, kneeling or no kneeling, she still is the president of Malawi. The kneeling did not take any bit away from that. I want to imagine that the reason she knows this and that as she knelt to greet this guys, she was simply honouring these gentlemen.
You could ask why she needs to, afterall they are peers, I ask why not. She is the president anyway. I would like to imagine she is so secure in that knowledge that she is just not threatened by kneeling before these gentlemen.
You see I find that often, especially among us women, we are running when no one is chasing after us. We are aggressive when a simple lady-likeness would get us through. For some reason the world has conditioned us to fight for our rights. And I do not take away the fight that have been done by those before me to get us women to the liberal world we are in now, in fact I absolutely salute my predecessors for the courage to take up this fight. I also am not naïve enough to imagine the fight is complete; we still have a long way to go. I just need to look at the level of women representation in the political arena, or even our board rooms to know we have a long way to go. But this is the thing that today I appreciate; we sure are not the society we once were. Now we even have specific women representatives in our parliament, a requirement for at least 1/3 of all public positions to represent either gender. We have made progress.
But I also see a common trend of aggressiveness, a need to assert self, unnecessarily sometimes. We are running when no one is chasing us.
It is the reason why a woman president kneeling got so many women offended. We forget that she’s a president; we have made so much progress that Africa has women presidents when developed worlds have not even thought about it yet.
The power of submission
Perhaps the reason I took this whole incident to heart is because of this lesson that I am learning; the power of a submitted woman; heck the power of a submitted man. Okay maybe the word is humility.
The kind of humility that means I can kneel before presidents without qualms. Humility that means I can honor a spouse when I feel I want to be equal with him. Humility that means I can submit to my parents even when I think I am the brightest thing that ever happened to them. Humility that means I can honour a boss that I do not exactly agree with their moral fiber. Humility that means I can submit to all authority, my president included.
Do not mistake me; humility in our modern day is such hard thing. It does not come easily. We are an educated lot. We are a people who are up there with human rights. Humility has been made to look like being trodden on so we fight it.
But every time I fight humility, these verses get to me:
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[b] 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!”
Jesus being God did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped. What does He mean; He was God, why not want the title and all that go with it. I see the humility in Jesus life and I am truly truly challenged. I am so much smaller, called to much less, yet I struggle with humility.
My rebellion story
I am rebellious in the small and big stuff; sometimes loudly sometimes very quietly. The quiet one makes me happy, I will be smiling and agreeing but thinking in my heart, ‘yap all you want I will do as I please’. My rebellion.
Have you seen me walking past these security guys who are always checking my handbag, have you seen the arrogance I have as I do so? Or have you seen me when I am talking to that cop, what does he know, he’s corrupt anyway and does he know who I am?(well that last part may not apply but hey flow along) Or have you seen me with that less educated boss or spouse of mine who does not seem to reckon that I am an MBA qualified? Or have you seen me talking to my parents, they are so old fashioned, what do they know?
This week we have auditors at my workplace and I could not help but remember the last time they were here. I was so big headed. I knew all they were asking for through and through and so the arrogance with which I interacted with them, you don’t want to know. It did not help that I used to be an auditor; I can teach them a few things you know. This year I purposed to eat humble pie, to help them where need be, to interact with them in humility. And it has been amazing to watch! It is the strength submission flowing through. I have so often looked at submission as weakness. I am learning the strength of submission.
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about this and she asked me if this then means I have become a pushover person? I told her not. I do not believe humility or submission in anyway means you do not stand up for what you believe in or what is right.
Humility and submission I am learning is a condition of the heart. I will stand up for what is right but with humility up my sleeve, not arrogance, not stubbornness, but humility.
Is it easy, no? I actually am still figuring it out, but this is my desire, to be a leader – an influencer, who wears humility first; who knows that the greatest is he that serves. Who understands what Christ meant when He said the least of you is the greatest. I want to emulate Christ in every way; to not be about equality, but about submission. Believe me this is hard, but it is what Christ taught, it is what I need to be about.
This verse keeps me sober: “For rebellion is as the sin of divination and stubbornes is as iniquity and idolatry.”