Why Should I Listen To My Church Leader?

By Fin Sheridan

We all handle authority differently. Some of us naturally defer to anyone with the smallest hint of being in charge. Most of us will submit readily to those we know have authority: the police, a “do not trespass” sign, etc. Some of us resent authority and find it difficult to be told what to do by anyone, even if it’s for our own benefit. Others disregard authority completely: we call these people criminals.

So which are you? Probably, it changes depending on the nature of the authority. You’ll slow down for the speed camera, but drive over the limit most of the time. You’ll cut a corner at work or university, but only if the odds are good in getting away with it. You wouldn’t be cheeky to a policeman but you’d roll your eyes and tut when your friend is telling you about how they got a fine in the post for some misdemeanour.

And what about in church? What about your pastor/elder/deacon/leader relationship? Our interactions with them can often be tricky, especially when we have defaults to rejecting or struggling with authority. We react: “How can they tell me how to live?” “Who are they to talk like that?” “If they think they can speak to me like that then they’ve got another thing coming!”

“Whether you like it or not, the Bible is clear: God is in charge of who is in charge.”

There are many tragic stories of pastors and church leaders abusing power and authority and there aren’t many things that grieve the heart of God more. However, the vast majority of pastors and church leaders do a hard job well; pouring out their time, lives, families, energies and passion to lead us, people who sometimes aren’t very easy to lead.

So here’s some things to consider next time you feel like pushing back against a sermon point or even a conversation that someone in church leadership has had with you:

Even appropriate correction isn’t fun. Just because something is hard to hear doesn’t mean it’s not true. Hebrews 12:11 says “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” If your pastor or leader has pointed out something that stings, you have 2 choices; react and refuse to listen or prayerfully think it over and maybe take on board what they’re saying. A “harvest of righteousness and peace” doesn’t sound so bad…

Trust God.“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1.

Whether you like it or not, the Bible is clear: God is in charge of who is in charge. When we submit, even when we don’t feel like it, we are trusting that God will do what is right. Ultimately, the Lord is our shepherd and will protect us. Our role is to trust his word and let him lead us, through the authority he has set up.

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