Words that Matter – Leader – Part 2
November 1, 2022
“Obey your leaders; submit to them.” Hebrews 13:17
One Way to View Church Leadership
Someone described church leadership in this way, “Trying to be a leader in this church is like trying to take a cat for a walk.”
Do you agree? How many cats have you taken for a walk? Probably not many. Cats don’t respond well to being nudged in a certain direction. Sometimes they do exactly the opposite of what you want them to do. And, at times, you know that they’re pretty frustrated or mad with you.
Power, Authority, and Church Leadership
We’re living in a time when all authority seems to be suspect and all powers assume to be corrupt. While we know that is absolutely not true, it is the predominant attitude in our culture today. Add to that a large dose of independence in American culture and throw in a dash of self-righteousness and the idea that people would submit in any way to what anybody else says, almost sounds laughable.
If it feels laughable, remember there are appropriate structures of responsibility within God’s church, the larger church.
Sheep Need a Shepherd
In John 21, Jesus calls Peter to act as a shepherd over his flock, and he hasn’t stopped calling Shepherds ever since. We know Jesus is the true shepherd (Hebrews 13:20).
That’s the point, isn’t it? Shepherds are to look after the sheep.
The shepherd isn’t meant to rule them like a dictator or use them for their own advantage? Perhaps it’s because we’ve seen too many examples of poor leaders. A shepherd is a caretaker, a guide, and an overseer. There’s a sense of compassion as well as the wisdom of shepherds.
If the shepherd’s doing, his or her job fulfilling the role, it’s really in the sheep’s best interest to follow where the shepherd leads.
God calls people to lead, teach, instruct, and warn the flock, helping congregations and Jesus followers recognize this and helping leaders who are responding to a call embody it. This is the function of church leadership.
Joy in Leadership
In verse Hebrews 13:17, we read, “Make sure that they can do this with joy and not as a burden, that would be of no value to you.” There is joy in leadership. Joy and not a burden. It brings happiness and peace and completeness.
So maybe the question for church leaders, including pastors, is where are you experiencing joy in leadership? What does joy look like in ministry right now? Does it look like people learning and leading for the first time?
Does it look like baptizing someone? Does it look like uncontrollable laughter at something that is profoundly good? Does it look like love being shared? Lives changing?
Does it look like getting up every morning and saying, I get the opportunity to meet somebody I’ve not ever met before because God’s helping me become more who I’m supposed to be?
You can think of more examples of what joy looks like. Where is the joy in ministry right now?
Church Leadership is a Blessing
Church leadership is a blessing. It’s an opportunity to not only experience God’s blessings but to share God’s blessings.
And that’s what the author of Hebrew does, offers a blessing.
Equipped for the Work of Ministry
The writer of Hebrews is praying for God to equip them fully, both outwardly and inwardly.
Why? So they can honor God in and through their service.
This may, or may not be obvious: It requires work. There’s an effort exerted in being equipped to glorify God. There’s determination, there’s patience, there’s perseverance. You just don’t simply say, Bless Mike, and he magically has everything he needs to lead.
This is part of the mystery of Christian living, Christian leadership, and Christian work for the Kingdom. You have to prepare. You do the work, you give God thanks, and at the end of the day, it’s still a mystery. It’s a mystery how God works in and through us. We just have to be available to be the instrument, and that takes work too.
Often, as Christian leaders, you step into something and you didn’t know where it was going. You had an idea of what you wanted to have happen or where you saw God leading and guiding you, but you, all you could do was take one next step and then take the next step, and then take the next.
That requires effort and it also requires you to persevere in the midst of the unknown. It’s only because of who Jesus It’s only because of Jesus, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, that any of us are able to do what we are called to do, and God willing to do it with joy.
Submit and Obey with Joy
Church leadership, regardless of how it comes to us, from the scripture, the Hebrew writer says to us, obey and submit. Do it with joy. And while it may sound cliche, you are blessed to be a blessing. Your availability to God is to lead the church. It’s a blessing and a work. It is joy.
It takes patience. It is obedience, and it is fulfilling the calling God has placed on your life. It is who you are. If you’re being faithful to the call.
We are leaders because we’re followers of Jesus. We are leaders, who lead with joy and not burden because we have a God who loves us so much that regardless of how we do it or what we say or how we act, God says, “I’m still with you and I’m still gonna love you. I still need you to lead the people.”
Whether you have a position or not isn’t the point, the point is this: Are you going to follow Jesus so that you can lead others into God’s loving Embrace? Are you gonna receive the blessing of the living God through Jesus so you can help bless others? The word blessing literally means as we’ve already started setting people on the right path.
Be a blessing. Lead with joy. Finally, understand you have to have people following you to lead. To make that possible, you walk with Jesus.