What Is Surrender Anyway?



Tisha is a cute baby girl. Curly jet-black hair, dimples, and a smile that lights up a room. She also has a grip like a bear trap, and when she gets hold of a toy, she won’t let go. Her young vocabulary is limited, but one word she has mastered is “Mine!” Daddy and Mommy are trying to teach her to share, but she finds it much more natural to cling on to everything for herself. This skill was not taught; it seems to come naturally.

Gerrit is nine and loves soccer. His coach has explained to the whole team (and the parents) that this level of soccer is all about learning the game and not about keeping score. But Gerrit and the other kids on the team are good at basic math and they tally every goal in their minds.

They quietly whisper, “We are ahead by two,” or “That was my third goal,” and with clear disappointment, “We lost by twelve goals today!” No matter what the coach says, these kids keep score, want to win, and never wave the white flag.

Ashleigh wants to be on the homecoming court. She is not conducting a formal campaign; that would be too obvious. What she is doing is exerting all of her charm and social skills to get the other kids to like her enough to cast a vote in her direction. She is leveraging every friendship and relational connection to tip the scales in her favor and help her wear that sparkling crown at halftime during the upcoming football game.

Sure, kids act this way because they are still in that formational time of life when they are learning how the world works. Once we become adults we cast aside childish ways and live with humility, gracious generosity, and natural surrender. We spontaneously and naturally serve people, put God first, and stop expecting and demanding our own way.


Wrong! The truth is, grown up people can look just like bigger versions of Tisha, Gerrit, and Ashleigh. We want what we want.

Winning still matters. We navigate ways to get the crown, end up first, and gain the praise of our peers.

Living with humility does not come naturally to any of us. Willingly putting ourselves second or third does not seem to make sense. Surrendering to God’s will is a learned skill that takes a lifetime to develop. If we are honest, the idea of surrender can seem foreign, unnatural, even unattractive. At this very moment, you might even be wondering, Why am I doing a five-session study about surrender?

The more we take our lives and place them before God, the more we will be changed from the inside out.


Tell about a time in your childhood, teenage years, or adult life when you were not willing to surrender. As you look back, how was this effort to resist surrender a good choice or poor choice?


What moved you to choose taking part in this study about surrender?

We think we know what is best so we ask God to help us with our plans on our terms.

Watch Session One: I Give Up


As you watch the video teaching segment for this session, use the following outline to record anything that stands out to you.

An invitation to surrender

We like to be in control

What is surrender and why do it?

Unexpected, uninvited, and unavoidable surrender

A powerful biblical example of surrender: the apostle Paul

What is your “every situation”?

There are moments when our careful plans are wrecked and our detailed blueprints for the future are tossed out the window.


Read each question and take time for group members to give honest and thoughtful responses.

  1. What comes to your mind when you hear the word surrender? What are some possible negative connotations and what are some possible positive meanings?

A decision to study God’s Word is an investment in your spiritual life and an active choice to nourish your soul.

Select volunteers to read the following passages aloud to the group and discuss the questions with each:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will. — Romans 12:1–2 NIV

  1. What does it mean to renew our minds so that they are not lining up with the ways of the world that are relentless and all around us? What is one way you have learned to renew, change, or reorient your thinking to line up with God’s ways of thinking?
  2. What are some of the things that clamor for your time and attention that keep you from reading the Bible regularly and growing deeper in your faith? What could you do to control or tame some of these things so you can spend more regular time reading God’s Word and growing in faith?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. — Ephesians 2:8 NIV

  1. What are some of the things you surrendered, gave up, or quit when you received the grace of Jesus? This surrender was not an effort to gain God’s grace by works, but a humble response to God’s free gift of love, friendship, and forgiveness. How has your life been better because you surrendered one of these things?

When we let go we discover that our plans for the future, security, and certain health were all a façade.

  1. Tell about some of the ways you try to be in control of your life, your present, and your future. How can these attitudes and actions be dangerous for your life and faith?
  2. What is the difference between asking God to bless and affirm what we want and humbly surrendering to His will for our life? Give an example of what this can look like in our lives. We like things our way. We like to be in control.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. — Philippians 3:7-8 NIV

  1. Laura shared her story of uninvited, unexpected, and unavoidable surrender. Tell about a time when your plans were wrecked or your blueprints were tossed in the paper shredder. How was God present with you through this season of your life?
  2. What is one area of your life where you need to surrender and let go of your will and your ways? What is the circumstance to which you are holding so tightly? What is in the center of that clenched fist? What do you struggle most to let go of? The first step toward the Savior is always surrender.


Spend time in your group praying in any of the following directions:

  • Pray for your group members as they seek to surrender in a specific area of life that they had the courage to share with you.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to show you areas in your life where you need to surrender, give up, and bow down to God’s will and ways.
  • Thank God for how He has been near you (and your group members) in times of uninvited and unavoidable surrender.
  • Celebrate the beautiful reality that God is on the throne. Rejoice that even when we feel desperate, fearful, or uncertain, He is in charge of the universe and all the details of our life. When we let go we actually gain something we could never find if we hold on to what we have.

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Your Turn

Let us know what you thought of the first session of I Give Up. What does surrender look like in your life? Come share on our blog.

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