Read Hebrews 13
Focus on verse 17
Leaders and followers…
No leaders are perfect, but some leaders are easier to follow than others. The same is true of followers. There are followers who are a joy and blessing to leaders, and then there are followers who cause leaders to quit leading. In today’s reading the writer of Hebrews concludes his letter with a list of admonitions among which the following is found;
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. (V. 17)
I find it interesting the he includes the final phrase, “for that would be of no advantage to you”. Having served in leadership, I can from experience assure you that it is also of no advantage to the leader who is doing the groaning. There are some people who genuinely make leadership a privilege. This is typically countered by the few who make it their calling to assure that leaders don’t have it too easy.
Having also been in the position of a follower, I would have to admit that it is not always easy to follow the leaders that God places in authority, however, it is no less important to obey and submit to them. The one exception would be when the leader is asking one to do something that God clearly forbids. I would also confess that I have not always been the kind of follower that has made it a joy for those watching over me.
It would seem then that it is not so much a matter of people being one way or the other with consistency so much as it is people just being people – whether they lead or follow – none of us are able to execute the role with perfection at all times simply because we are human. What redeems these times when leaders and/or followers fail making it a more positive experience is therefore not so much that we execute the office with perfection as it is that we are willing to confess when we fail to one another and ask for forgiveness when we offend regardless of our position.
In this case the writer is addressing specifically those who lead and follow within the church, citing that in this case the leaders have the added spiritual responsibility of keeping watch over the spiritual well-being of those who follow. This is a serious matter since the writer seems to imply that these leaders will be held accountable for souls of those who God brings under their care. As I think on this it amazes me that God would entrust the us with this kind of responsibility – and it relieves me that God has not left those who lead without the guidance of the Holy Spirit who ultimately then carries this responsibility. If it were not so – I would not be inclined to volunteer to lead, and even less to put myself under the care of one who was not under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.