We live in an age of rebellion. The idea of "serving" someone is responded to with contempt. The very concept of "submission" is contorted into something the Bible never intended, and then attacked as a horrible evil. (Often they will superimpose their distorted concept of "submission" into the Bible, and then attack the Bible as well.)
The concept of "leadership" is equally distorted - contorted into something the Bible never intended, and used against people. Oppression and mistreatment by someone in authority is just as wicked (and under God's condemnation) as is rebellion by someone under authority. Two examples: Brutal mistreatment of someone - whether that person is called a "slave" or an "employee" - violates the spirit of the 6th commandment. Exploiting a worker (such as not paying him the wages he deserves) is a violation of the 8th commandment.
God intended both leading and serving to be done in a manner that expresses love to others, and which builds them up, rather than tearing them down. In God's sight, neither the one leading, nor the one being led, is to be treated as better than, or inferior to the other. Both are equally important.
God gave us the family as the basic structure that teaches the relationship between authority and those under authority. The principles about authority which are taught in the family (or are at least supposed to be taught there) are intended to teach us how to interact in every other authority structure. More importantly, they are intended to teach us about our relationship to God the "Father," the relationship between Christ and the church, etc. - and that is one of the reasons that the "family unit" is so strongly attacked in an age of rebellion.
In a sinful world, there are sometimes legitimate reasons for a person to disobey authority. But Scripture is very clear as to when (and with what attitude) it is to be done. It strongly condemns those who do so for the wrong reasons, or with the wrong attitude.
NOTE: When you examine what the Bible says about these issues, you must use the Bible's definitions of these concepts, or you will reach false conclusions about what the Bible says. Don't insert the world's distortions into God's Word!
The Bible's Concept of Authority and Leadership
Even though the primary emphasis of this study is on leadership within the church, the principles apply to any type of leadership position. (The principles also have implications to those who are under someone's leadership.) God does not give us one method of leadership for "Christian" activities and another method for "the rest of life." Rather, God expects the same concept of leadership to apply to all areas of life. [One additional issue, when we apply leadership principles to the "church": We must remember that the New Testament's concept of "church" does not refer to a religious institution, but to the people who belong to Christ, whether or not they belong to a man-made institution that many call a "church." These "leadership" requirements apply to all of us, and is not limited to some man-made "religious institution."] This is a rather extensive study in outline form.
This is an in-depth study of what the New Testament says about the concepts of obedience and submission. It includes an overview of various issues related to the topic, an examination of the New Testament Greek words which are translated as "obedience" or "submission," an outline of every occurrence of these words, and many questions to be used as a study guide. THE LAST PART OF THE OUTLINE GIVES SOME LINKS TO OTHER ARTICLES which deal with related issues, and which will help us reach a "balanced" perspective. [NOTE: The article about Civil Disobedience (below) may be helpful for answering some of the questions in the outlines.]
Most people in the church have accepted the world's definition of "submission" and all the misconceptions it brings with it. This is an attempt to "reintroduce" what the Bible teaches. The Bible speaks truthfully in this matter (as always); it's people who lie and distort the truth. Also included are answers to some of the common questions that arise when this topic is mentioned.
People who follow God want others to focus their attention on God. But people who follow humans want to focus their attention on humans. This is why servants of God don't want to be exalted by people, whereas people often do so.
God is clear on how a family is to function; and raising a family according to his instructions is a serious matter. An unwillingness for parents to obey God in this matter will influence a child's perspective of every authority structure - even their concept of God.
This is a list of verses, copied from the New Topical Handbook (public domain). It's purpose is to provide a list that can be used for discussion or quick reference.
God does not leave us to guess how to raise our children - and we are sinning against both our children and God, when we are unwilling to do what God tells us to do. However, we must begin with our own relationship with God, before we will be capable of fulfilling our obligations to our children.
When Should We Disobey Authority?
The apostles summed it up in Acts 4:19. When there is a conflict between God's commands and the commands of a human authority, we have a moral obligation to obey God, rather than the human authority.
This article explores the issue of civil disobedience, and includes many Scripture references for you to examine. Included are various principles related to how a person should interact with an authority who has been placed over him. (Even when we must disobey such an authority, it must be done with the right attitude.)
Jesus' example of a true leader...
You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:13-17)