The earth was not given to us simply to passively enjoy. Part of our mandate as image bearers of God is also to subdue what he has given us. And this calls for an active engagement of our strength throughout our life and relationships.
Perhaps this is easiest to see in farming, as the farmer must tame and bring his livestock under the realm of his influence – allowing them to participate in his efforts to cultivate more life and goodness. He cannot effectively farm if his animals remain wild. He must subdue them for his farm to thrive. And, of course, this does not mean he gets to be harsh or otherwise selfish with them. But it will require some degree of force and effort to be successful.
And this is true for the work God has given us as well. But all too often we simply comply with the expectations of others rather than actively subduing the earth God has given us. For instance, we pursue the safe major, job, and career path rather than seeking to understand and harness the passionate desires God has placed within our soul. As such, we remain ineffective and impotent – like a farmer who never actually farms.
To be sure, subduing is not a passive process. It calls for us to actively conquer and make subject what God has given us, which will demand a good bit of sweat equity. But this effort is a clue we’re on the right path – making our talents, gifts, abilities, and desires work for us in cultivating the unique goodness that is ours to bring into the world.
In the end, don’t be surprised or grow weary when it takes effort to cultivate the realm of your influence. Making an impact for good will require you to subdue the earth God has given you to rule.