"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. 18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things." Hebrews 13:17-18
The word “leadership” brings with it a fascinating dichotomy in perspective. There is the classic idea that leadership is about bringing rescue to those in need, demonstrating courage in the face of danger, or taking charge of a desperate situation. That view brings to mind names like Abraham Lincoln, George Patton or Aaron Rodgers. And while no one would argue that, in their given contexts, these men demonstrated tremendous leadership abilities, the passage above hints at a very different view of leadership altogether.
Throughout the Bible true leadership is described as living a life of sacrificial service to others. We see the greatest example of true leadership in the life of Jesus Christ himself who came to this Earth, “not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:42-45). That humble demonstration of service set the precedent for what church leadership should look like. True leaders are called to love and serve the church; not for personal gain, but to set an example of that humble, loving sacrifice of Jesus (1 Peter 5:1-3). Furthermore, leaders are to live lives that are honorable with a clear conscience, avoiding behaviors and attitudes that detract from the truth of the Gospel
According to Hebrews, once this kind of leadership has been established, the church is to submit to that leadership. Submission in this context doesn’t mean to blindly follow. Far from it. Even the best human leadership is tainted by the effects of sin, and we are called to obey the Bible as our ultimate authority. Rather, Hebrews calls us to submit and follow the leaders of the church knowing that they are ones who humbly desire what is best for the church. Ultimately, the leaders of the church will give a personal account to God for the things that they do. Leaders will answer for how they teach, how they use their leadership, and how they treat their brothers and sisters within the church. So, with that in mind, here’s how you can pray . . .
Pray for humble, Spirit-led, Christ-honoring Leaders
As a leadership we want to be marked by humility and a desire to bring God glory in everything that we do. We want to be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit and be sensitive to His will for us, our families and our church. We want the love and grace of Jesus to drive us in our teaching and in our lifestyles. Pray that God would continue to raise up men and women in this church who would live lives of sacrificial service to others.
Pray for faithful, mindful, Gospel-focused submission
As a church we want to follow the instruction that we’ve been given to faithfully submit to Godly leadership. We want to be a blessing to our leaders knowing that they will give an account before God for each and every one of us. We want to be a thoughtful people, thoroughly devoted to the Word of God so that we don’t get drawn away by pride, error or foolishness (Acts 17:11). We want to live out the Gospel of grace in our lives- forgiving, loving, and looking out for one another.