Repost: The Discipline of Submission

This Sunday James spoke about giving up our need for power and control.  He talked a bit about the spiritual discipline of submission. It reminded me of a post I’d done a while ago & thought I’d repost it here.   I was rereading the third chapter of Christianity Beyond Belief yesterday to prep for this Sunday’s […]

by bob

Feb 15, 2012

This Sunday James spoke about giving up our need for power and control.  He talked a bit about the spiritual discipline of submission. It reminded me of a post I’d done a while ago & thought I’d repost it here.


I was rereading the third chapter of Christianity Beyond Belief yesterday to prep for this Sunday’s message, and was reminded of an experience I had this spring that I thought I’d share.  In April, Liz & I attended the Vineyard Pastor’s Sabbath in Challis, ID.  It was one of the most relaxing couple of weeks we’ve had in a long time, and has been the start of some major changes we’ve made in our lives since.

Well, there was one relatively non-relaxing time in Idaho.  You see that picture to the left?  That is the guy who drove us from the the retreat center to the airport.  You also notice what he is focused on right?  He spent most of that 3-hour trip from Challis to Idaho Falls on his phone.

Actually, the non-relaxing part started a bit earlier.  When I travel, I really like to show up at the airport with a lot of time to spare.  I’d rather get there early and then find a place to read a book, do some work whatever…the stress of are we going to get there on time, is not something I enjoy at all.

The company that was in charge of making sure we all got from the retreat center to the airport had a bit of a mix up…and forgot to send enough vans.  So, instead of leaving when we should have, we had to make sure everyone had a ride…once we finally left, about an hour late, we are a few minutes down the road when one of the people in our van realizes that their bag is not in the van…so we have head back and find the right luggage.

We are cutting this really close…and then the whole way there, the driver plays with his phone.  I decide that rather than stress about the time, or the driver, I’ll try to read…so I pull out my Kindle & start reading Christianity Beyond Belief.  And I come to chapter three where Todd talks about the Vineyard’s 1999 National Conference (which is the first one James & I ever went to!)  More specifically he writes about the discipline of submission, which he heard Richard Foster talk about.

Foster describes this discipline this way:

Routinely choosing to not have your own way, to seek opportunities to not be in control, preferably in ways that are hidden to, and good for others.

After reading that, I decided that there was nothing I could do to make sure we got to our flight on time…I was in the hands of this driver…(along with his phone of course).  I made a decision that for the rest of our trip, until we got to Ithaca, I was going to practice the discipline of submission.  If we missed flights or anything like that, I was simply going to go where I was told to go & wait until I was told to do something else.

I actually wrote about the remainder of the trip home back in May.  Here is how the rest of the day went:

The flight home was a bit more eventful.  The flight from Idaho Falls to Denver was delayed by about 4 hours.  Which meant we would miss our connecting flight.  The woman at the computer was looking at other possibilities & saying, maybe we could get you out tomorrow?…no…Saturday?  No.  Maybe early next week….Oh, wait, here’s something!  I think they try to make it look really bad, so that when they get you home 12 hours late, you are actually happy that you got home at all.

Then it got really fun.  The back up hydraulics  on the landing gear were broken.  And the weather was getting cold enough so that they decided in order to take off, they needed to remove 1/2 of the people and their luggage from the plane.  So they started offering goodies and bonuses to people who would take a later flight (even though they had no idea when that flight would be.)  12 people left, but they needed 20 some more.  After no more volunteers they tell us that they are going to determine everyone’s priority on the plane, and start removing people starting with the lowest priority.  (I thought it would be pretty ironic to have this amazing ten days of being ministered to, only to be told your first day back out in civilization, that of everybody on this plane, you are the lowest priority…so you have to leave.)  Thankfully, based on whatever formula they use to determine this, Elizabeth and I were actually pretty high on the priority list…or at least in the top half!

So we finally get to Denver & our flight to Chicago was delayed by 3 hours.  We were actually on the plane, when they learned that one of the de-icers wasn’t working.  So we got off the plane, waited for a new one to come in & headed off to Chicago, and get there around 3 am.  From Chicago, it was an easy flight to Syracuse.  However, in all the craziness, our luggage decided to go to Washington DC before heading to Syracuse.  But we all made it & only 11 hours late!

I don’t know about you, but stuff like that generally makes me a bit stressed.  But, even if I had let each person we had to deal with that day know of my frustration, there isn’t anything that would have changed…it wouldn’t have gotten us home any faster, and despite everything that happened, Liz and I had great time together.

I haven’t actively practiced the discipline of submission since, but in reading this chapter again, I’m reminded that I should.

If you have any experience with this discipline, I’d love to hear your story.

What about Bob?


I grew up in Western New York and have started and led missional church planting efforts for a little over 30 years. As you might gather, I have opinions about the church, and I share some of them here.

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1 Comment

  1. Tracie Lynn



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