Hebrews 13:17

Clive Urquhart comments on the need to allow leaders to lead

Clive Urquhart
Clive Urquhart

'Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.' Hebrews 13:17

Obedience and submission are not popular words in 21st century society. We live in a 'Just Do It' culture where 'Me, Myself and I' is at the centre. Obedience and submission are easily mistaken for control, manipulation or restriction. Many people think obedience and submission is someone else trying to lord it over them or run their lives for them. It's true there have been some negative examples of how churches have gone way too far in how leadership has been exercised in telling people what they can and can't do, but that is not the kind of leadership, obedience or submission the Bible speaks of.

The word 'obey' in this verse means to agree, be at one with. The word 'submit' means to yield, to work with or alongside.

Leaders are there to lead; to give direction to the church; to watch over it; to build and encourage believers to grow and mature so they take responsibility for their lives; to mobilise the church into effective mission and witness and to win and make disciples so that the great commission is fulfilled.

The Bible speaks of the church being the body of Christ of which He is the head. When you give your life to Jesus you become part, or a member, of His body. Each member has its part to play so that the body functions, moves and fulfils what it is purposed to be and to do.

God raises up leaders and delegates' authority to them to lead the church so there can be clear direction from Him, the head, as to how He wants all the members of His body to work and move together in agreement as one. He knows this is the best way for His will to be accomplished on earth.

Many people take offence and get upset about things that can happen in church. So often people aim and take pot shots at their leaders and begin to blame them and be negative about them and the church. People can take their eyes off the bigger picture of what God wants to do and get caught up with what has become their focus.

The writer to the Hebrews understands this and knows how destructive it is, so he encourages us not to get caught up in the stuff that can so easily undermine the church, but instead he says obey (agree, be at one with), submit (yield, work alongside) your leaders so that they can focus on leading and moving the church forward in the way God intends, instead of being burdened with negativity or offence.

Being the leader or a leader in a church is not an easy task. The church is a volunteer army made up of people like you and me who have responded to God's call and have chosen to be part of it.

Let's choose to make it a joy for our leaders to lead. How? Pray for them, encourage them, ask what you can do for them, look for ways to honour and bless them. If it goes well with them, it will go well with you and your church. CR