I believe the New Testament provides us with a single relationship principle that is so powerful, so dynamic, that when applied by both parties, it has the power to repair and restore even the most strained and damaged relationship. I call it the principle of mutual submission. As the apostle Paul was planting new churches and teaching new believers, he asked the question, “How do we take the teachings of Jesus and apply them to a family dynamic?” He answered that question in Ephesians 5:21, by giving us this principle of mutual submission. He wrote:
That short verse communicates the most powerful relational dynamic the world has ever seen. Mutual submission means that every family member leverages his or her time, assets, and power for the benefit of the other members of the family. It’s what Christian families are supposed to do.
The thing that blows mutual submission up into something powerful and wonderful is this question: What can I do to help?
It is an offer of all I am for all that you need. If everyone in your family asked this question to everyone else in your family at least once a day, your family dynamic would change. It says, “I’m aware of your burdens. Is there anything I can do to help you go further faster in whatever it is God has called you to do in our home?”
The barrier to asking, “What can I do to help?” is the fear that we’ll have to do something we don’t want to do. But that’s why Paul says to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. In a sense, God looked at our messed up world, and Jesus asked, “What can I do to help?” What he had to do was come down here and get in line behind every person who has ever lived. And he did it even though we didn’t deserve it.
He calls us to submit to our families, to T.A.P. into their needs with our Time, Assets, and Power, the way he submitted his time, assets, and power to our needs. And he calls us to do it even when our family members don’t deserve it. The good news is your act of submission probably won’t cost you your life.
Happiness does not equate to getting everyone to do everything you want them to do. Happiness—especially in family—is mutual submission. It’s being willing to loan your total self to everyone else in that circle. It’s asking, “What can I do to help?” And guess what? When you want to ask it least, you need to ask it most.
Ideally, families are characterized by mutual submission. The message of mutual submission is, I’m here for you. The assumption of mutual submission is, You are of no less value than me. The question mutual submission asks is, What can I do to help?
As you’ve read this, someone in your family has probably come to mind. I hope you take this opportunity to change your family dynamic.
It’s your move.
CHANGING YOUR MIND:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.