Wednesday, August 8, 2012

To Lead and Yield

I was driving to the airport with my future father-in-law about a week ago. He asked me, "so you think you're ready for this marriage stuff, huh?" I, of course, told him I most certainly am. I then proceeded to share with him what I have found to be the weirdest thing about transitioning from being single to being married. It's that I am so used to focusing solely on my own thoughts and feelings and desires, and marrying someone is all about entering into a life in which I am not at all the chief concern. It's a life of us.

I've always thought that the worst sinful mindset is that of selfishness. The Trinity is a union of self-emptying love. There is no focus on the self. Thus, selfishness is the very opposite of Trinity-like love. It's the worst sinful mindset and it's also the most common. We are all selfish. Because it's so easy to be selfish. We think our thoughts, feel our feelings, need our needs, want our desires. I wake up in my mind, stare into myself in the mirror, and live my life. Thus, it's very hard to not focus on myself. And thus, the hardest/weirdest part about the single-to-married transition is that, in marriage, I will no longer only live my life. I will live our life. I cannot only consider my thoughts, feelings, and desires. Though I live in my mind, I have to consider her thoughts, feelings, and desires. Not only do I have to consider them, I have to consider them more than my own, above my own, and before my own.

My future father-in-love then said, "You have to lead and yield at the same time. It's an interesting combination."

Marriage is a union. As a husband, I will have the responsibility to lead the union to what's best for the family unit (to borrow a phrase from Raising Arizona). At the same time, however, I must yield to my wife's needs. I must bring them into the equation--to all of the equations--and make them priority.

This is similar to the way we must lead and yield in our spiritual lives.
I've read some people who say that humans had free will until the fall, and that's when they lost it. They further say that when one becomes saved, he regains his free will.
I think it's almost the other way around.

I believe all of humanity has always had free will. And I think an essential part of being a disciple of Christ is surrendering one's self to God--surrendering one's will to God. It is yielding to his will for our lives. Not that we lose our free will in this, but we give up trying to make our own way and we submit to him.

At the same time, however, we must--in a sense--lead. We have to use our free will to say 'Yes' to God. We have to respond to God's initiative. We have to surrender. We have to submit. We have to engage. We have to take God's hand.

But once we take his hand, we must yield to him and let him lead us to where He wants us to go.
As Christian artist Jason Upton sings, "I don't know where I'm going. I've been blinded by the truth."
Choosing to follow God is a daily decision. Each day, we have the choice to go our own way or yield to God's way.

Christianity is about yielding to God, but we have to take the lead in order to give God the lead.
We have to lead ourselves each day into God's leadership.

To conclude:

Love is self-emptying.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Phil. 2:3-4)

"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (Jas. 3:16-17)

In marriage, I must lead my family but yield to my family's needs. I cannot solely consider my own. Love is not self-seeking (1 Cor. 13:5)
In our spiritual lives, we must lead in choosing to surrender to God, and we must yield and submit to his will.
We should not live for ourselves and only adhere to our wills. 
Our lives should be led with a mindset that is supremely other-focused. First and foremost, God-focused. In marriage, spouse-focused. And in every-day life, neighbor-focused.
We as Christians are called to lead our lives--in true Christ-like fashion--yielding to God and yielding to the needs of others. 

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