“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
I grew up in a conservative church. As a result, we had a lot of “rules.” Now, almost all of it was based on the Bible, but some if it was just the pastor and church elders attempting to lead a congregation efficiently and properly. For example, telling people to put put their phones away while in church (that’s certainly not in the Bible, but is a good church rule, I think!).
I am often asked how I live with all those “rules,” which even many believers find restrictive and outdated. My honest answer is that for a long time, I didn’t. Like many teenagers, I was determined to do what makes me happy.
But when God began teaching me about submissiveness, I was most convicted about the fact that the root of my insubordination was a lack of respect for God and the men tasked to lead me spiritually (my grandfather, father, pastor and deacons).
My pastor likely felt it necessary to have specific rules for our congregation because the modern expectations of how a Christian should live have been watered down to the point where churches seamlessly blend in with the world. But above all, he has been tasked with leading each member of our congregation towards the gates of heaven. It’s not an easy task.
We need rules and clear expectations. That’s what leadership is: it’s bringing order to chaos and uniting a group of individuals to accomplish a goal by working together. The only way that’s done is if each person on the team respects and obeys the person designated to lead the team. Even when you don’t agree or think your way is better. No offense, but God didn’t choose you for this job, He chose your pastor. And one day your pastor will have to account before the throne of God for you and your life.
We must recognize the authority and responsibility given to our spiritual leaders, because that is where respect is born. In turn, when combined with humility, respect blooms into obedience. As we know, there are great blessings to being obedient to the Lord!