A little boy was badly misbehaving, and his mother finally had enough. “Johnny,” she said, “go sit in the corner right now! And don’t turn around until I tell you to.”
Johnny resisted at first but slowly walked over to the corner and sat down. About a minute passed when he turned around and said to his mother, “I’m sitting down, mommy, but I’m standing up on the inside!”
Many believers are standing up on the inside in this season. I’ve seen leaders on my team defy clear instructions privately and publicly. What’s behind this? And how do we deal with it? Simply stated, they are listening to the voice of defiance.
What is Defiance?
Defiance is a disposition to resist. It’s a willingness to contend or fight. It’s one thing to defy the devil’s plans for your life. It’s another thing to defy the authority God placed over your life. Yes, it’s another thing altogether.
When someone defies you, they are confronting you, disregarding your command, withstanding your efforts to lead, challenging your words and, at its worst, daring you to do something about it. Defiance cannot be tolerated for a moment because, left unchecked, it opens the door for strife to infiltrate an organization as people begin to take sides. Defiance destroys unity.
I love Pastor Chuck Swindoll’s teaching on this topic. In a nutshell, he says defiance begins with carnal attitudes. Before a word or spoken or an action is taken, thoughts of defiance are present in a person’s heart.
Defiance Has a Voice
The first thought, Swindoll says, is “I want my own way.” Essentially, it’s selfishness and pride, which is what got Lucifer kicked out of heaven.
Swindoll says the second thought says, “I won’t quit until I get it.” This is stubbornness, which is as the sin of idolatry. We can’t serve God and an idol at the same time. The third thought, according to Swindoll, is “I don’t care who it hurts.” That is an attitude of indifference.
The fourth voice says, “I refuse to listen to counsel.” That is rebellion. Finally comes the voice, “I am not concerned about the consequences.” That, he says, is contempt. That shines a light on one of the roots of defiance, which is familiarity
Consider the outcome, though, of defiance. Pharoah exalted himself in haughty defiance and brought plagues on his land (see Ex. 9:17, AMP). Goliath defied the God of Israel and lost his head (see 1 Sam. 17). Ahab and Jezebel openly defied God by making a big business of evil and God took them both out (see 1 Kings 21:25-26, The Message). Lucifer defied God and was kicked out of heaven.
Dealing With Defiance
So, how do you deal with defiance?
Remember that everything we see in the natural starts in the spirit. The defiant thoughts were whispered to the defiant players. You can bind the spirit of defiance, but ultimately the issue lies much deeper. It lies with the heart of a person that can be so easily swayed to openly challenge the leadership God has placed them with.
Just like with Lucifer, the root issue is pride. That pride leads to defiance, which is essentially rebellion. And rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (see 1 Sam. 15:23). Defiance must lead to discipline or it will definitely be repeated. If the defiance is public, it must be undone in public or others in the organization will believe the behavior is okay. We deserve what we tolerate.
In the best-case scenario, the person will repent for giving ear to the voice of defiance. However, they must also search their hearts for the pride that made them receptive to that voice. Proverbs 12:1 tells us, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” And again, Proverbs 15:32 tells us, “Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.”
Nobody likes discipline. It seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (see Heb. 12:11). The goal is to make disciples. Correction is not my favorite part of my assignment, but if we don’t correct rebellion we will wind up with defiant disciples who will tear down what God has called us to build.