17Obey 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.18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things
This passage, along with many others, shows the great tension found in church leadership. Elders in the church are to be people of character, maturity, compassion and courage having a responsibility before God for the spiritual condition of the church. But ultimately church leaders are like any other member of the church. They are people striving to serve as the body of Christ for the body of Christ. Far from being supermen they are simply stewards who have a responsibility to care for the church. A true leader is to be a disciple of Christ and is to follow his example to serve and sacrifice for others.
As such it is vitally important that we, as a church, consistently spend time in prayer for our elders and church leaders. Regardless of the area of ministry each leader is integral to the function and heart of the church. We ought to pray that God would protect the hearts and minds of our leaders; keeping them from the sin, pride, self-reliance and religiosity that can so easily distract. We ought to pray that God continues to raise leaders from within the body of Christ: men and women devoted to the Word and to the church. In all these things we should pray that our leaders fulfill their responsibilities with joy and grace as a reflection of God’s love and mercy on us. Finally, we must all consider where God would have us serve His mission. No one is exempted from the call to serve, and true leadership is service.