Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

Hebrews 13:17

This is a tough verse for me to comment about; I was in church leadership for roughly 20 years, and I doubt I ever once quoted it unless I was teaching Hebrews 13:  We live in cynical times…

Over the years, there have been great leaders in the church; there have also been some who were not so great; leaders can suffer from the same issues that everyone else may suffer from. Some may be in leadership for all of the wrong reasons, some may think that being a leader in the church makes them a big shot or an important person, and yes I have met a few like that.  In my experience, many church members are critical of their leaders, no matter what those leaders do, but I must tell you that in my experience, that sort of criticism usually said much more about the critic than the leader.

This simple verse has two points to it. First is the injunction for us to submit to Biblical authority within the church. Dear reader, if we cannot do this, there will never be unity in our churches. The second is that leaders must understand that they will give an account for their leadership tenure, for it is a heavy responsibility.  It occurs to me that I should say that when I speak of leaders in the church, I refer not to leaders within a denominational structure somewhere, but rather at the local congregational level, and this is because these are the ones this verse refers to, not denominational authorities. I can say this because at the time of writing, there were no denominational structures or authorities.

To be a leader in the church is not for everyone; it means that you become the servant of all. It involves making sacrifices that few will give you credit for, few will ever even know about. It means that you will be unfairly criticized by those you serve, and it will result in many sleepless nights and lots of prayers for guidance. In short, it is possibly the most wonderful experience anybody can have on the earth… but it isn’t for most people.

It is a whole lot easier if people complain and criticize less and focus on Jesus Christ more, that’s for sure.

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

Hebrews 13:18-19

Please read these 2 verses carefully, and you will detect a heart that yearns to be with the people of the church, apparently a church in which the author has served as a leader.  In verse 18 it is clear that he fully comprehends the responsibility of leading, the parental love he feels for his people, and in verse 19 you can easily see his longing to return to them in these difficult times of testing through which they are travelling. I can tell you from experience that this is how it “feels” to have been a leader in the church.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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12 Responses to Leaders

  1. I have a general distrust in political leaders, because from what I have seen , they only do things that benefit their campaigns and their careers . Well to each his on…. I am sure there are exceptions to the rules

  2. This hits the nail on the head.. the most rewarding, but also the most scrutinized..I know when I first stepped into a role I was under a very heavily critiqued eye. Over time more acceptance came and later encouragement. That first year was hard though. When God places us in a role and our heart is in the right place he always comes through. There were times I questioned are you sure? I know I heard you, but was this right? Everything seems so hard.. but that struggle helped me stretch and grown in facing adversity as a leader . Which in turn, has prepared me 3 years later for this next chapter. 🙂

  3. Read it Don and started to cry. The burden (as I’m sure you are aware) can at times appear to be overwhelming when you are trying to balance truth with unconditional love. Your heart feels like it is breaking because you DO love God’s children and not just those claiming to be His, but His creation as well! I have been an “active” leader, behind the pulpit and such and I have been a “passive” leader, one who still must do what the Holy Spirit says to do from whatever position or place I am given. A SERVANT, you pegged it right, a servant never stops serving until the Lord calls them home and says well-done though good and faithful servant! You might feel like a break, but that calling is ALWAYS, tugging at your heart! The things you see all around you, all the time is at times more than what some other ministries such as organizations, or giver, might see. They all fulfill their ministries and faithfully, but some ministries, depending on the calling carry such a weight of responsibility and yet, I know that old saying that “those who He calls He equips.”

    Love is the key, it is always the key, but not everyone recognizes love for what it truly is. When Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me satan, for what you want is NOT the will of the Lord” (paraphrased) can you imagine the thoughts running through Peter’s mind and after he just emphatically said to Jesus that He wouldn’t die? Jesus LOVED Peter in that exchange. It was a love based on eternity and the importance of the Father’s will! I shook Peter up and he started to see the truth more clearly but I would imagine it struck him deeply!

    Great post my brother. Much needed and I truly pray as others read it, they meditate on it, take it to heart and pray for one another’s ministries/service toward each other and toward the Lord! We NEED one another and we need to remember that diversity is NOT the same as division!

    Love you and God bless you for all you do for ALL of us!

  4. A much needed post and topic for local Christian church leaders.

    On denominational leaders, it sounds like you have some healing to do.

  5. Thank you for this, Don.

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