“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
Many of you know that Hebrews is my favorite book of the Bible, and so I couldn’t let the month go by without seeing what the author had to say about obedience. These verses come from the last chapter which is titled (at least in the NIV) “concluding exhortations.” It contains a list of instructions to the church. I encourage you to read this entire chapter, as it gives a wealth of good advice, boiled down to succinct statements about how Christians should behave as part of the body of Christ.
Anyway, back to our leaders. As the wife of a Pastor, I can tell you it is not an easy job. In fact, it’s not a job at all –it’s a calling. Most of the pastors I know would not say they chose to be a pastor because it matched their talents, gave them a steady salary or earned them respect and recognition. They are pastors because it’s what God wants them to do and they can’t refuse to do it without great pain.
My husband is fond of saying that the pastor is not the CEO of the church. He is not our “boss.” God did not give him to us as a manager, or administrator, but as a teacher, mentor and leader. Submitting to our pastor and other church leaders, like submitting to our spouse, should not be what we have to do, it should be what we want to do.
Submitting to someone you are in a loving relationship with does not mean you can never express your opinions or disagree. It does not mean you cannot ask questions. It does not mean you can’t try to change their way of looking at things. I does mean you recognize that person has your best interests at heart, and you should listen respectfully and thoughtfully to what they tell you. If that person is an authority, you should obey them.
My husband (and other pastors) are not happy to have members blindly accept whatever he says. He is also not happy when members simply walk away and abandon the congregation because they don’t like something he said or did. He is happy when a member listens, and if he or she disagrees, studies the subject and asks questions. He is happy when someone who is upset with him comes to him and talks the issue over. These kinds of responses lead to spiritual growth and maturity, and trust me, this is what your pastor wants to see in you and in others!
So make your pastor joyful in his task. Learn from him. Love him. Pray for him. Obey him, because God has given to you.