As a mom of four children, I can tell you that disobedience is part of our human nature. Thankfully, as my children have grown up and matured spiritually, they have developed hearts that desire to obey their parents and God, but they did not start out that way.
In our family, we have no passive children – they are all strong-willed. Which, in some ways, is good. Now that three out of the four of them are in college, they have pointed that determination in the direction of standing strong in their faith and seeking to point others to Christ. But in the early years of parenting, dealing with stubbornness was very challenging. At times, it was downright exhausting trying to point them in the direction of obedience.
As we follow Christ and lead others to do the same, how willingly do we obey? Are we at the toddler stage of having to be dragged (kicking and screaming) into obedience? Or are we mature, steadfast, and willing in our obedience to God. The answer to that question affects our ability to lead. In order to effectively lead others, we must make sure that we are living in obedience to God’s will ourselves.
The Bible is full of examples of both obedience we can emulate and disobedience to God which we will want to avoid. One sobering example of the consequences of disobedience can be seen in the life of king Saul. In I Chronicles 10:13-14 we read, “So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.”
Saul failed to obey what God had commanded. He also decided to take matters into his own hands and seek guidance from someone other than the Lord – someone that God had actually forbidden him to consult. Herein lies a lesson for us. Our direction for life and ministry must come only from God. Now sometimes God will use other Christ followers to share wisdom and guidance with us, but ultimately, we must seek God’s direction.
Jesus modelled this type of obedience for us. He consistently sought to do the will of the Father. He even stated that doing God’s will was the very reason for which He had come to earth. In John 6:38, Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” And in Luke 22:42, when Jesus was approaching the time of his crucifixion, He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
As we observe in this passage, obedience is not always easy. Jesus was in anguish over what lay ahead for him. But God is faithful to equip us for obedience. In fact, in the very next verse of Luke 22, we are told that “there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” God the Father provided what Jesus needed at that moment in time, and He will do the same for us.
Leading like Jesus means walking in obedience to the Father. God will be faithful to give us the wisdom we need in order to obey. James 1:5 tells us that “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” He will also be faithful to equip us in every way for obedience, just as He strengthened Christ for His earthly ministry. The question is, will we rely on Him and walk in obedience?