The Art of Yielding

Yield-signs If you drive a vehicle of some kind, you've seen the signposts with the upside-down triangle. Sometimes yellow, sometimes red and white, and sometimes they have specific wording or symbols.

It's a yield sign. It tells drivers to yield, to slow down and allow other drivers to proceed before entering the other road. Many drivers don't seem to understand this. Instead of giving way to other drivers, they seem oblivious to the oncoming traffic, or even think they have the right of way. I've seen honking, frustrated drivers who have to give way to them.

Which driver are you? Are you the one who has to give way to the ones who ignore the yield sign, or the one who ignores it? Or, have you been both at times?

Why is it hard to yield to others?

Why do we have a hard time yielding to others on the road? Is it ignorance of driving laws, or a symptom of our cultural tendencies, a sense of entitlement? What I see on the roads of America, I see in our culture. It also permeates the church culture of America.

I can't speak of this based on research or with polls to back it up, only simple observation. We Americans don't seem to be good at yielding to others. I'm not speaking of driving habits, but daily life. This isn't a condition of one generational age or another, or one denomination or another. It's a human condition.

Perhaps it's easier to see on our roadways, but I've seen it first hand in many ways and in many places. I've also seen it in myself, and I'll bet, if you're honest, you've seen it in yourself, as well.

[bctt tweet="Why do we have a hard time yielding to others"]

What's the problem?

So, what's the reason for this? And don't give me the glib, "because we're sinners." There's a deeper issue here. This goes to the core of who we are when we claim to be Christians—Christ-followers. And Jesus knows this is our problem, all of us. He addressed it many times with the disciples.

What was the final teaching expressed by action that Jesus did before He went to the cross? What was the subject the disciples argued about with each other that prompted some of Jesus' most poignant teaching?

When the disciples argued about who was the greatest among them, Jesus exhorted them about servanthood (Mark 9:33-37). What did He do to them on the final night He was with them? He washed their feet, then exhorted them to do the same (John 13:1-17).

His admonition for all of us who want to be His followers gets to the crux of it all.

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me." (Matt 16:24 NLT)

How can we change?

How do we turn from our selfish ways? I trust you've found this is not so easy. Yes, Jesus gives us the supreme example, but any attempt to be like Jesus in our own strength, by our own will and determination, is bound to fail. Paul the apostle spoke to this in Romans—

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. (Romans 7:18, 19 NLT)

[bctt tweet="How do we turn from our selfish ways? Why is it so hard?"]

The apostle Paul helps us with this dilemma in his epistle to the Philippians. He connects our difficulty with yielding to others (because of selfishness and self-centeredness) to the example of Jesus.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. (Phil 2:3-6 NLT)


Reading the larger context of Paul's admonition in Philippians 2:1-9, it's clear that we are to think of others in a similar way as Jesus did. He let go of His rights as God (the Son) and became human. He humbled Himself, emptied Himself, and died for our benefit.

General William Booth wanted to send a telegram of encouragement to his leaders, but could only afford one word. What word did he choose? Others. This was the focus he wanted his Salvation Army leaders to have.

[bctt tweet="The key to yielding is considering others and their interests above our own"]

This is the key to the art of yielding. When we consider others and put their interests above our own, we express the nature of Jesus. As Jesus said in another dialog with His disciples—

"But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45 NLT)

Yielding to others

So, whether you're driving, or at a supermarket, waiting in line somewhere, or in a discussion with others—think about them. Consider them. Put yourself in their place. Give way to them, even when you think you're right or have the right of way.

[bctt tweet="Think about others, consider them and put yourself in their place"]

If we all did this just once a day, it would change our lives, and probably begin changing the lives of others around us. It may not be a lot, but it's a start. It's a start in the right direction—away from just thinking of ourselves.

Here are some questions to consider and act on—

When was the last time you yielded—gave way—to someone else in some way?

When was the last time you didn't insist on being right in an argument?

When did you last do something to bless someone else without any expectations?