“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 ESV).
From the perspective of a church leader, Hebrews 13:17 carries special importance in light of the following reminder: “They keep watch over you as men who must give an account” (NIV). This accountability is something that lays heavily upon an honorable minister.
One day God will call every spiritual leader to account for his or her life and ministry. That accounting will involve an examination of the minister’s teaching, doctrine, finances, and lifestyle. God will also examine every leader’s use of their time, ministry endeavors, and interactions with those who were entrusted to their care. Those responsibilities are clearly reflected in the following Biblical passages…
“And now beware! Be sure that you feed and shepherd God’s flock– his church, purchased with his blood– for the Holy Spirit is holding you responsible as overseers” (Acts 20:28 TLB).
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).
“Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you” (1 Timothy 4:16 NET).
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3 NIV).
For these reasons, we should recognize the burden that Pastoral ministers carry. For instance, a Godly minister must live with the knowledge that even sincere and well-meaning leaders can cause spiritual and/or emotional damage in the lives of others. One indiscretion, one moment of frustration, or one poorly worded response, no matter how small, may serve to discredit years of productive ministry.
In addition. Pastoral leaders are often on call 24 hours a day to provide spiritual and emotional support to others. They must respond graciously to the criticisms of those who hold unrealistic or unattainable expectations, as well as the personal attacks that often accompany an online presence. In light of the great accountability that accompanies a leadership position within the church, there is a mutual responsibility that exists between congregations and their leaders. We’ll examine that mutual responsibility in greater detail next.