All of this talk on submission sounds very sweet and mature. And while it is the fruit of a life lived in God’s Love, it is easily frustrated. Perhaps the best gauge of our submission is read when someone comes along with a critical comment or accusation that rattles the contents of our heart.

Sir Edmund Hillary was a man of incredible accomplishments. In 1953 he conquered Mount Everest. Later that year he was knighted. In 1985 he became New Zealand’s high commissioner to India, Nepal and Bangladesh. In 1995 he received the Order of the Garter, Britain’s highest award. He was responsible for building 27 schools, 2 hospitals and 12 medical centers among the Sherpa people. He towered above most in his accomplishments.

On one of his many trips back to the Himalayas he was spotted by a group of tourist climbers. They begged for a photo with the great man, and Hillary obliged. They handed him an ice pick so he would look the part and set up for the photograph. Just then another climber passed the group and, not recognizing the man at the centre, strode up to Hillary saying, "Excuse me, that's not how you hold an ice pick. Let me show you."

Everyone stood around in amazed silence as Hillary thanked the man, let him adjust the pick, and happily went on with the photograph.[1]

The other climber may have been very experienced, but his attitude came across as intrusive and cocky. When we see this ‘one-upping’ way we are repelled. We see it as prideful and arrogant.

On the other hand, Edmund Hillary’s greatness is amplified by his face-saving response. He does not need to defend his honour or put the other man in his place. He politely thanks the man and serves the people who wanted a picture with him.

Edmund Hillary was not especially known as a Christian, but he was known as a man of humility. What attitude are you most known for?

When we choose to let go of our need to be noticed and respected, we are able to simply serve others without losing our sense of security. We are able to excuse and forgive those who intrude and presume to know who we are.

Again, we hear the surrendered heart of Jesus when he speaks from the Cross.

Luke 23:
34 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

We will learn submission when we learn to place love above all else. We will have a surrendered heart when we can see beyond the atrocities that others do against us and choose forgiveness.

Richard Foster said,

In submission we are at last free to value other people. Their dreams and plans become important to us. We have entered into a new, wonderful, glorious freedom—the freedom to give up our own rights for the good of others. For the first time we can love people unconditionally. We have given up the right to demand that they return our love. No longer do we feel that we have to be treated in a certain way. We rejoice in their successes. We feel genuine sorrow in their failures. It is of little consequence that our plans are frustrated if their plans succeed. We discover that it is far better to serve our neighbor than to have our own way. [2]

[1] John Dickson, Humilitas (Zondervan, 2011), pp. 70-71; submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky
[2] Richard Foster, Celebration Of Discipline, Harper Collins Publishers, p.112