Let Your Leaders Lead

8 02 2010

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”   – Hebrews 13:17

We live in a culture that rejects authority.  Our children naturally reject the authority of their parents.  Parents and other adults naturally reject the authority of others in their life (i.e. government positions, etc.)  What’s alarming today is that this rejection of authority also carries over into the church.

Many people may not realize that God has actually established authority within the church.  In  1 Timothy and Titus (as well as in a few other places) Paul uses the Greek word “episkopos” to refer to what we call a “Pastor”.  This word is usually translated as “overseer” and carries the general connotation of one who is in charge.

Time and again I hear people say things like “That pastor is just trying to run things around here.”  They mean this in a negative way, but really according to Scripture, that’s what the pastor is supposed to be doing!  I obviously don’t mean that the pastor is to be overbearing, or use his authority negatively, but the word of God says that pastors “will have to give an account” for their actions because they have been called by God to keep “watch over your souls.”  I honestly believe that many churches would be in better shape if they trusted their pastor more.  This is not to take away from the pastor’s responsibility to listen to and love his flock.  The pastor will also be wise to take counsel from some of the members of the church regarding certain matters.  But, honestly, how many flocks of sheep have you seen controlling their shepherd? So many churches have it backwards and actually feel like the pastor is under their authority, when in fact, he is under the authority of God.

Remember too that this verse is a direct command.  In fact it contains two imperatives: Obey and submit.  It’s not just suggested that church members obey and submit to leadership in the church, it’s actually commanded in Scripture. 

So to keep this short there is twofold application.  #1 church members must remember that pastors have been appointed over them by God to equip them for the work of the ministry and to keep watch over their souls.  This applies by not running down the pastor to other members of the church and especially outsiders.  This applies by listening to the pastor instead of just discrediting him because he is too young or too old or too black or too white, or too whatever.  This applies by serving God, by serving alongside your pastor in work for the Kingdom.  This applies by church members acknowledging that to not submit and disobey is a sin (obviously if the pastor is saying something against the Word, this command is lifted).  And finally, this applies by church members acknowledging that they were not put into the church just so they could critique the preacher!  God will critique your pastor and work on His heart to make the changes needed…#2 Leaders should remember to serve with joy and not groaning.  This applies by not running down your church.  This applies by understanding the privilege and responsibility you have as a leader and using it for the honor and glory of God. This applies by leading in such a way that your followers can follow you!

God’s church is a beautiful establishment.  He has set it up in a perfect way (even if it is filled with imperfect people!).  Let’s get back to a biblical model for ecclesiology, which begins by letting God’s leaders lead us.