April 18, 2022

Prefer to Defer

Written by Boyd Bailey

Devotion to one another in love is not passive, but active and intentional in praying and looking for ways to honor others above yourself.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – April 18, 2022

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

I am learning to love well is to prefer to defer to others. In marriage that is to do more of what my wife wants to do, instead of subtly scheming to do what I want to do. Recently, Rita and I signed up for eight private dance lessons. Mario, our instructor, may be one of the most patient men in town. He is helping me unlearn my early dancing days of freestyling by teaching us the Foxtrot, Rumba and East Coast swing. I am learning to like dancing because my bride loves dancing. In her words, “This is an activity only the two of us can experience, 45 minutes of focused intimacy, no phones, holding hands and smiling.” Both of us captivated in an infatuated youthful gaze!

The apostle Paul was a relational genius. With Holy Spirit inspired words, he gives very practical application to Jesus’ words of how to love as He loved us. Jesus modeled prefer to defer by submitting in the Garden of Gethsemane to His Father’s will. He prayed for another way, yet not His own will but for the Lord’s will to be done. Death is the ultimate deference—death to self, even physical death if necessary. Devotion to one another in love is not passive, but actively and intentionally prays and looks for ways to honor others above ourselves. The definition of honor in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary reads, “To show dignity, respect, treat with deference, submission and service.

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:35-36).

Oswald Chambers rightfully shares how Paul is a bondservant of Christ indebted to serve others: 

I am not a superior person among other people— I am a bondservant of the Lord Jesus. Paul said, ‘…you are not your own…you were bought at a price…’ Paul sold himself to Jesus Christ and he said, in effect, ‘I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the gospel of Jesus; I am free only that I may be an absolute bondservant of His.’ That is the characteristic of a Christian’s life once this level of spiritual honor and duty becomes real. Quit praying about yourself and spend your life for the sake of others as the bondservant of Jesus. That is the true meaning of being broken bread and poured-out wine in real life.” Love is our unending debt!

Chambers is spot on with his humble remark, I am not a superior person among other people.”  At work and home, who can you joyfully prefer to defer to? Maybe your child is obsessed with a hobby. Invest time with your son by experiencing his interests with him and grow more familiar with his passions in life. Invest in what your child loves, learn how to like what she loves! Deference grows trust and opens the door to influence in her life. At work create a collaborative culture—invite everyone to bring solutions, ideas and innovation into the conversation. Preferring to defer many times takes longer, but over the long term creates the most relational health. Be devoted to and honor God. He will show you how to be devoted to and honor others! 

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11).


Heavenly Father, show me meaningful ways to prefer to defer to others, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name, amen.


What does it look like at work and home for me to be more collaborative than directive?

Related Reading

Proverbs 3:9; Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 1:22; Revelation 7:12

Worship Resource

Katy Nicole: In Jesus Name (God of Possible)



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