“Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit” (Hebrews 13:17 NLT).
In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, Paul the Apostle wrote the following message to the New Testament-era church at Corinth: “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (NIV).
In one sense, the imagery employed by Paul within that passage is reminiscent of a manager. Just as a manager is responsible for supervising others, Paul saw his ministry as a stewardship that was entrusted to him by Christ. That responsibility involved overseeing, and caring for the church, the household of God (1 Timothy 3:15).
A modern-day pastoral minister is similarly accountable for overseeing those who are entrusted to his care. While every Christian is individually responsible to manage his or her God-given talents, skills, and opportunities, these spiritual leaders are tasked with the added responsibility to oversee others as well as themselves. With this in mind, we would do well to reflect upon the the kind of accounting that our spiritual leaders offer to God concerning us. To borrow a phrase from our text in Hebrews 13:17, will they do so with joy, or with sorrow?
That obligation represents a weighty responsibility for any Pastoral leader. Thus, our awareness of that responsibility is one that should influence our relationship with these congregational ministers. Consider the realistic, common-sense counsel offered by the following commentator on this subject…
“In the end, obediently submitting to our leaders by living lives of faithful graciousness in the church is a commitment of faith in God because He has placed these leaders in your church. By submitting to God-appointed authorities, we submit to God. No, the pastor isn’t perfect. No, he doesn’t always get things right. Yes, he too is a sinner—just like you. But when we know this and submit anyway, we give God glory and our pastor grace. This is good for us. We may not be immediately interested in our leaders’ joy, but if we are interested in our own spiritual advantage, we will repent of our selfishness and seek our leaders’ joy.” (1)
(1) Jarad C. Wilson, “Encourage Leaders With Faithful Graciousness” Tabletalk Magazine, May, 2014 [pg. 67]