Revive Our Hearts Podcast

What Does It Mean to Be Amenable?

Leslie Basham: Mary Kassian says the purpose of authority is to serve others. Here's what Jesus told His disciples.

Mary Kassian: "Listen you guys, don't get it wrong. Authority isn't for serving you. Authority isn't about you being in charge or getting your needs met or making demands or you sitting on the throne. Authority is about getting down on your knees and serving someone."

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for April 22, 2015.

This week Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian are walking through the rich insights for women found in Titus 2. They write about the beautiful qualities we find there in a new workbook called True Woman 201: Interior Design. We'd like to send you a copy when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just call 1–800–569–5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, they're picking back up on a conversation based on that book.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Mary, we've known each other a long time now. And there's a particular word that you have added to my vocabulary. I've heard you use it quite a few times. I think you exemplify this word maybe better than any woman I know.

Mary: I don't know about that one.

Nancy: It's the word "amenable."

Mary: Amenable. It's a good word, actually, because it's based on the word "amen," which means, "yes, so be it." So, in a way, agreeable. Agreeable is another way to say that word. But amenable is just to have a disposition where you are agreeable and easily leadable.

Nancy: And I've watched you even on this production of this series on True Woman for radio and for video. There are so many pieces and parts of this behind the scenes that we've had to deal with, and people working on our hair and our makeup and our wardrobe and the way we sit and the way we look and the way we talk and earrings on, earrings off.

You are just "Okay. Okay. Okay. Sure." And I look at you, and I think this is a quality that we see in the text Titus 2 that we've been looking at. And this is where we have to go to get our plumbline, our standard for what it means to be a woman of God.

And so, back to Titus 2. Older women are supposed to model this life of biblical womanhood. And then they are supposed to teach what is good and train the young women. So now we're older women, and we're supposed to be training the younger women in these things which means we have to be experiencing them.

Mary: We're still learning them.

Nancy: Still learning. Still working on them. Working on them and then it gives the curriculum. You're supposed to train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, to be pure, to be working at home, to be kind (see Titus 2:3–5). We've talked about each of these things. And then there comes this one that a lot of us kind of at first sight wish wasn't there.

Mary: This is a tough sell in our culture. It says to be submissive to their own husbands. And it's that word that a lot of people just don't like.

Nancy: It is radically counter-cultural.

Mary: Radically counter-cultural.

Nancy: In fact, we were talking recently about how you use this concept in our culture, and people think, What planet did you come from?

Mary: Exactly. Did you like just pull up in a spaceship? Where are your antennas?

Nancy: And yet, the great thing is as you unpack this word in the Scripture and this concept which includes the idea of being amenable, we'll come to that. You see that it's not something that's a burden to be borne. It's actually a blessing to be enjoyed.

Mary: Some people have some misconceptions about that word "submission." And they are prevalent in our culture. There is the thinking that submission means that you don't have an opinion, that you can't speak truth, that you can't address issues in your husband's life or that there's' never any conflict or that you don't communicate—that you just are this "yes girl" that just nods her head and says "yes" to everything.

Nancy: And then their fear is that "I'm just going to get run over."

Mary: Yes. Exactly. The doormat.

Nancy: I'm going to get hurt.

Mary: I don't want to be a doormat. And that's how this whole submission concept is presented that makes women into a doormat and inferior to men. And there's nothing that could be further from the truth.

Nancy: Which is why we want to say, "What does this word mean from a biblical standpoint?"

Mary: Exactly.

Nancy: Not to get our meaning of it from the culture or how others use it. But what's the biblical concept of submission. And let me say, we'll get to this, but singles don't want to tune out at this point. Because it talks here specifically about women being submissive to their own husbands. But there are some applications here that are important for those of us who aren't married as well.

Mary: That's for sure. Submission in the marriage-specific application is the soft amenable female disposition which is very precious in the eyes of God. So we'll talk more about that later. But I think that we need to address submission.

When we start to understand submission, we need to understand it from the perspective of not only of what is submission but what is authority, because the two go hand in hand. If you don't have a proper understanding of what authority is from a biblical perspective, then you'll have a real tough time understanding the meaning of submission.

Nancy: Yes, the actual word itself in the Greek is hupotassó. And let me just say, we're not Greek scholars. We use tools like others can who are studying God's Word. It's a compound word. It's a military term, and it has to do with troops arranging themselves in an orderly fashion to follow the leadership of whoever is the commander in that situation.

Mary: Yes. It's to put oneself under voluntarily; to understand that there is a proper authority and that the authority is a good thing, or it ought to be a good thing. That's why we need to start talking about what authority means. But there is a proper order, and that order makes everything work well and is for everyone's blessing.

Nancy: We see that order illustrated in the Trinity—the relationship between God the Father and God the Son [and God the Holy Spirit]. They are co-equal. They are co-eternal. One is not inferior to the other. But  Scripture teaches that Jesus for the sake of the redemption story voluntarily placed Himself from eternity past through eternity future under the authority of God the Father. They love each other; they are One; they are one in spirit; they are one in mind; they're one in heart; they don't contend with each other. This is not a struggle. This is not a battle.

Mary: There's no power pull. There's no 50/50—oh, you're in charge now, I'm in charge now. There is a distinct division of responsibility there. And we see it so beautifully, and it does create the oneness that we know God is three in One.

Nancy: So you have the loving wise authority of the Father and the gracious, humble, voluntary, willing submission of the Son. That's what marriage is supposed to picture.

Mary: Exactly. Exactly. But the authority part of it, we talked in our last session together that God is ultimately kind, that there is nothing that characterizes God as much as God's love, His kindness. He is a kind Father.

So when it comes to how He exercises authority, the Father teaches us a lot about authority. Actually, Jesus teaches us about authority as well, because Jesus is both in a position where He submits to His Father and He's also in a position of authority as the Head of His Church. So depending on which relationship He assumes a different position. Jesus teaches us about that.

And Jesus teaches us that authority is for the purpose of service. He said it so eloquently to His disciples. "Listen you guys, don't get it wrong. Authority isn't for serving you. Authority isn't about you being in charge or getting your needs met or making demands or you sitting on the throne. Authority is about getting down on your knees and serving someone."

Nancy: There's no place for anybody being a control freak, whether it's a husband with a wife, with parents, with children, in the workplace. It's, "How can I serve?"

Mary: Exactly. I think it's so grievous to the Lord when He sees people abusing authority—whether it's police officers or governmental authority or authority in the home. It is incredibly grievous to Him when authority is abusive, because that's not at all indicative of how God exercises His authority and the authority of Christ.

Nancy: And yet I know there are a lot of women doing this study with us who are in situations where they say, "Yes, God's a loving authority. Jesus is a loving authority over His Church. But that's not what I'm living with."

We've heard you and Brent talk about your relationship with each other. Brent is a loving leader in your home, and that's a blessing. I know you know it is.

Mary: It is a blessing. And I must say, it's easy because it sets me free to be who I am, and he is who he is, who God created him to be. There's such a harmony and oneness. But you're right, that is not always the case.

Nancy: We've known a lot of women. We hear from them here at Revive Our Hearts. You do through your ministry who are saying, "Look, I'm living with a harsh tyrant, a difficult man, and how am I supposed to respond to an ungodly type of authority?"

Mary: It's not an easy question, because he is not conducting himself in the manner in which God would have him conduct himself.

Nancy: I think we want to say that submitting to the authority even of a difficult husband, as difficult as it may be, doesn't mean submitting to abuse. It doesn't mean passively resigning yourself to be run over. God has given means and ways for a woman to make an appeal.

Mary: To appeal to outside authorities.

Nancy: Right. If there's something illegal being done, if there's abuse taking place, then that needs to be reported. It's why it is so important that women, all of us, be in a local church, a community of faith where there are those who can step in and speak truth where it needs to be spoken.

Mary: You know, Nancy, I have been involved in situations. I remember the day that a girlfriend came to church with a black eye and trying to cover it up with sunglasses. I just remember just feeling so angry and so, so caring for her. Because that is just not what God intended. To have a husband who fails to love and protect and serve his wife but who beats her is just a travesty.

The elders of the church and the women went over to her home, and we moved her out and got her to a place of protection and safety, got a restraining order, and helped her financially. And our wish and our desire was for that marriage to be restored and for there to be repentance.

Now that didn't happen in this particular situation, but it was such a sad situation. And yet, to me it was such a model of how the community and how the authorities that God has placed in our lives can step in and help and really remedy something like that.

Nancy: And of course, there are a lot of situations that aren't that intense but where there is just in a good marriage, there can be disagreement. I was asking you the other night about what are some of the biggest things that you and Brent have disagreed on over the years.

Mary: Restaurants. Which restaurant to go to.

Nancy: So it can be actually little things that can become a burr in the saddle of a marriage. But you were sharing with me how important it is as a wife that you express things in a way that is conducive to oneness in the marriage. Talk a little bit about what that can look like.

Mary: Well, I think that a woman can challenge her husband. I believe that we are heirs together, and God has made us co-heirs together in that there is a oneness and a partnership in marriage and a unity that goes alongside this authority structure in marriage.

Brent is not only my husband, he's also my brother in Christ. And so, it behooves me to be a woman who will challenge him for godliness. So if there's something in his life, there's something inconsistent with God's Word, there's some behavior or some habit that concerns me or that hurts me, then it's my responsibility to speak to him about that. But it's also my responsibility to do that in a way that is kind, in a way that is extremely respectful.

And in the lessons in 201, we talk about the story of a woman who does that so well. She's a steel magnolia. She has a soft spirit, an amenable spirit, a submissiveness about her. But she lives with a boorish man, and she is able to somehow hold that together where she challenges the behavior. She doesn't forget the behavior, but she still has a respectful spirit about her.

Nancy: She's a courageous woman with an amenable, sweet-spirited disposition. And that makes such a difference in the way the input is received—not just in marriage but in the work place, in other relationships. Because resistance is most often going to meet with resistance, and I think that's true in relationships in general.

Mary: It certainly is true in relationships. I know in my marriage, just my respect for my husband over the years has earned me a lot of respect. So when I speak, when I bring up something in his life that I see and I do it in a gentle way . . . You pick your times, and you're careful about when that is.

Nancy: And you pick your battles.

Mary: You pick your battles and say, "You know, Sweetheart, I am so concerned. I see this in your life, and it worries me." And be truthful speaking it but in such a respectful way. I know that when I speak, it carries so much weight in Brent's life.

Nancy: Part of that is because you don't bring up everything and place equal weight and value on it.

Mary: That's right. It's few and far between. You know, the way he slurps his soup? Well, I am probably not going to change that for our entire marriage.

Nancy: So you're going to live with it.

Mary: I'm going to live with it, and not resent it. But sometimes I'll slurp mine louder.

Nancy: Okay. This whole attitude of respect of a disposition. This is what we come to. It's not just submission to authority as an act, but it's an attitude that goes so contrary to what is promoted in our world for women. Now, what's the kind of woman who is held up as somebody to be admired and follow today?

Mary: Well, you know the answer to that question. Our world just pushes this model of womanhood where the women are crass and bossy and in your face and in charge and take control. And even now in dating relationships where it's the woman who's the aggressor, the woman who's the pursuer. And our culture presents this as that's fine, that's equitable, that's fair, that's how it ought to be. Men have had their turn for far too long. They've worn the pants. Now it's woman's turn.

Nancy: And this is nothing new. You see in the book of Proverbs 7 with this foolish woman who actually ends up in an illicit sexual relationship. But it describes her. I think these two words are so compelling. It talks about her being loud and defiant. Isn't that a picture of modern womanhood?

Mary: Well, it's two sides of the same coin. The loudness saying, "You do it my way. You better do it my way." And the defiant being, "I am certainly not going to do it your way." So this resistant spirit where there's just a defiance that I'm in charge, I'm in control, and there is no way I'm going to listen to anyone else.

And that is so contrary to what the Lord wants for us here in the book of Titus where the curriculum for womanhood mentions this soft, amenable disposition that shows up in marriage, in a woman's submissiveness toward her own husband.

Nancy: I want to unpack that disposition a little further. There's another passage that I think really helps us on this. But first let me just back up a second and say that this loud defiance isn't always loud in terms of the decibels. It's not always overt and in your face. I think that some women who have a quieter personality can still have that loud and defiant spirit.

Mary: Sort of a passive resistance.

Nancy: Yes. It's more the attitude. It's not how loud you talk. And conversely, some women who are very gregarious and outgoing and effervescent that doesn't mean that they are violating the spirit of God's Word in terms of having a soft disposition. It's not a matter of volume.

Mary: It's not a matter of personality.

Nancy: Right. Because I know in past years I've looked at some women who are just quiet women and I say, "If that's what it means to be a godly woman, I have no chance."

Mary: Me, either.

Nancy: Neither of us, right?

Mary: That's right.

***Nancy: We're talking about an attitude of the heart. Peter talks about this in 1 Peter 3. We talk about this verse a lot, but it's one I need to come back to again and again. It's also in the context of submission.

He says, "Wives be subject to your own husbands." He talks about the power of that submission, "…so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure behavior." These are things we've been talking about in Titus 2.

And then he says verse 3 here of 1 Peter 3, don't let the focus of your energy and your efforts and your time be on your outward beauty. We're going to talk about that in an upcoming session here. But he says instead, "…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a [and here's the term] gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God [in the past] used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands."

So here you see the bringing together of the submissive spirit, this gentle spirit, this quiet respectful spirit. And it's kind of a constellation of qualities that start in the heart that are affected in marriage, they're effective in life and they're beautiful to God.

Mary: They are beautiful to God. And that is an amazing phrase there that are so precious to God. And it's precious to God because that's the characteristic in Christ that won salvation for us - His submission to the Father.

But there's something here also. I mean we've talked a lot about submission in marriage. But I think we need to talk about how it works out in the life of a single. You're not married and yet this applies in that there is a disposition. There is a womanly disposition. There's a difference in the sexes in terms of how God created us, who He created us to be. And there's a disposition that's mentioned here in 1 Peter 3.

It's this quietness and gentleness of spirit - not saying one personality type - no cookie cutters here. We can have a gregarious woman who has this type of disposition. But there is a soft amenable disposition. And again, the marriage-specific application of that is submission. But that doesn't mean…you single women need to understand that this also applies to you. God wants you to become a woman who is soft and amenable in spirit.

Nancy: And a leadable spirit. A responsive spirit. Not being a control freak. Not being harsh or resistant but being compliable, easy to work with. And Mary, that's one of the things I so appreciate with you. You've been an incredible model to me in this area of having an amenable, a "yes-spirited" disposition.

And I think a key to this, and you see it in 1 Peter, too, is the willingness to trust in God. My willingness to submit to God-ordained authority, my willingness to have a gentle and a quiet spirit is not because a woman can trust her husband or the people around us. We all fail. But we trust that God is bigger and greater than all that. Proverbs 21 says the king's heart is in the Lord's hand. He turns it wherever He wants.

So I can say even in difficult situations, "Look I'm not in charge of the world. I'm not God. God is God. He is sovereign. He hasn't gone to sleep in this situation. He knows what's going on and He is able to turn this authority's heart. He's able to turn this situation. So, Lord, I trust you." And that's why I don't have to be manipulating or conniving or scheming or controlling or freaking out because I know that He's in control. And I trust Him to do what's right and good.

Mary: This is not talking about women being weak willed; about women saying "yes" to everything or being wimpy. Because we've talked about women not being weak-willed, about having the discernment and the will-power, the self-control to say "yes" to what's good and right according to the will of God and to say "no" to what's wrong or evil according to the Word of God. But again, this is standing up for what's true but doing so in a way with a gentle and a soft and a quiet spirt.

Nancy: And as we do that we as women shine a spotlight on the "submissive to God" part of the Jesus story. Even as men are called to shine a spotlight on the "loving servant head of the church" part of the story.

Mary: And I think that's why it says here in 1 Peter 3 that this disposition is so precious, so precious to God the Father because that's the disposition that He saw in Christ - this "Yes, Father. Not my will but Your will be done." That's the type of disposition that He loves that disposition.

Nancy: I'll tell you what comes to mind as you're saying that is in Luke 1 where Mary says to the angel who comes to tell her, "You're going to have this child. Your life is being turned upside down. You're engaged to be married to this man but you're going to have God's…"

Mary: Who knows what's going to happen.

Nancy: Who knows what's going to happen. But her response is actually my life verse. Luke 1:38. Mary says to the angel about something that she cannot begin to comprehend or control. She says, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."

What she's really just saying is, "Yes, Lord. I'm available. I'm responsive. Lead me. Rule my life. Control my life. What You want. You are sovereign. You are good. You can be trusted. I submit myself to You." And when we submit ourselves to God then it's not so threatening or difficult to submit ourselves in situations that He brings into our lives.

Mary: That's right.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian. They've been talking about what biblical submission is and what it isn't. They'll be right back to pray.

To follow up today's discussion I hope you'll get a copy of the new workbook Nancy and Mary wrote called "True Woman 201: Interior Design". They'll show you how to display beautiful biblical femininity from the inside out.

We'll send you a copy when you send any amount to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Your gift will help this podcast continue and you'll be helping us develop apps and other digital resources to help women find freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.

Ask for the workbook "True Woman 201" when you call 1-800-569-5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We'll send one workbook per household.

Well, it seems like everybody has trouble connecting in mentoring relationships. Younger women can feel like older women aren't available. And older women can feel like younger women aren't interested.

Tomorrow Nancy and Mary will show you how to connect in mentoring relationships and why those relationships are so important. Now they're back to wrap up today's discussion on becoming more amenable.

Nancy: Mary, let me ask you to pray because all of us listening to this have need of God's grace in our lives to develop this more soft amenable womanly spirit that is beautiful to the Lord. And many women struggling in a marriage as to what submission should look like, how to live that out.

We could not possibly in a session this length cover all the situations and give all the caveats that are necessary. But let's just pray that the Spirit will give wisdom as to how to apply this and then the power and the grace to live it out.

Mary: Yes. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for Your Word. I'm so grateful for Jesus. I am so grateful that He modeled for us how to have that soft amenability that willing disposition and that it was that disposition that secured our salvation. Thank You also that He models for us what authority is supposed to look like. So, Father, I just pray that You may help us. I pray for every woman who's listening in knowing how to apply this to her life and her situation; for those women who are single, knowing how to keep that softness of spirit about them and not just taking on the harshness of woman hood that is often promoted by the world.

I pray for women in marriage that they may know how to be submissive to their own husbands in a way that is wise, in a way that's winsome, in a way that's truthful, in a way that deepens the partnership and the communication and the oneness in marriage and doesn't insult it, in a way where husband and wife are drawn together to reflect the unity and the oneness and the love and the beauty of what we see between the Father and Son.

Thanks for this time together. We pray that we may become women who mirror what we see in Jesus in terms of that soft amenability and the beauty of submission. In Jesus name, Amen.

Leslie: Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.