Obey your leaders and submit to them…
Words like obey and submit have started to resonate in our ears as white noise. We often carry with us experiences that have taught us to mistrust and be skeptical of leaders, even in the church. Many have abused their power, self-promoted, and lied (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Therefore, it is easy for us to side with the mantra of our culture and push back against the historical notion of male authority (Romans 13:2). Obedience and submission have become comfortably known as obscenities.
Yet God has called his children on a different path, a historical path reaching back to the first man, Adam. From the beginning of time God has ordained his chosen people to be led by chosen men, fellow sinners who are called to serve, self-sacrifice, and shepherd the people of God (1 Peter 5:2-3). The church’s leadership has always been tasked with the weighty role of caring for souls (Hebrews 13:17). This is the work of pursuing people and problems, moving courageously toward the pain of sin, disease, and death while proclaiming the hope and joy of the gospel.
Leaders are imperfect and at times will disappoint. Jesus was no stranger to the failings and sin of his young apprentices. It is appropriate for leaders to be held accountable for their words and actions (James 3:1). Simultaneously, the author of Hebrews teaches us that church authority is not something to rail against but an advantageous gift. We the church are called to bring joy to our leaders by the manner in which we follow. There is one supreme leader of whom we will all give an account, the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ (Hebrews 3:3-6).