Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
Having A Heart Of Submission To Shepherds
Authority has always been the under-girding foundation of the word of God. In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve sinned when they failed to submit their will to the authority of God. All men have been subject to the will of the Father and salvation has been determined based on obedience. The New Testament church is built upon the authority given to Christ following His resurrection in its pattern, worship, organization and mission. Leadership has always been a part of God’s plan. Within the framework of the church there is an authority that comes from Christ being the head and men being subject to Him. In the New Testament writings there is clear indication of God’s pattern of authority given to men who are set aside as shepherds of the local flock exercising leadership and guidance of the souls under their care. These men are called bishops, elders, overseers and shepherds. Each term is descriptive of their role as they guide the saints of God. In the final admonitions of Hebrews, a direct admonition is given to Christians to obey those men entrusted with the care of their souls. Accountability is placed upon the saints to obey and submit to the rulers as they fulfill their role of watching out for the souls of those entrusted to them.
The pattern of the New Testament for those who rule the local congregation is a multiplicity of men. There is never a hint that one man should be the sole ruler of a congregation as a ‘pastor’ often seen in churches of men. God’s design includes men who are specially set apart by qualities that suit them for the work of leadership. Not everyone can be a shepherd of God’s flock. Their work is based upon a diligent study of God’s word so they may know how to care for the people of God in a manner suited to the will of the Lord. All men will stand before the judgment bar accountable for their lives but those men who take on the mantel of leadership in the local congregation will be judged in a much harsher manner. The work of a shepherd is to look out for the souls of those entrusted to him. This will cause deep reflection upon those who desire to be shepherds of the flock. Men of great faith will rise to the occasion serving well the work of shepherds who watch out for the eternal destinies of every member.
An important part of the organization of the church is men who serve as shepherds and members who obey and submit their souls to their leaders. The command is direct and forthright. There is no mincing of words. In a world that resists the idea of authority the word of God is clearly established that saints are to submit themselves to those men who serve as elders of the local congregation. Obedience and submission is full. It is not a matter of obeying only in the ways that appeal to the member. God has given authority to specific men who have passed a rigorous test of character in being chosen to serve as leaders and the members are to obey and submit to their rule as servants of the Lord. Guided by the word of God shepherds seek the will of the Lord in the work of the church. This is not blind devotion but working together to accomplish what is found in the word of God based upon the authority of the will of God. Harmony will bring unity to the local congregation when men lead under the care of Jesus Christ and members submit their lives to the rule of God being submissive to their shepherds. The pattern of the New Testament church is a marvelous testimony to the creation of God. Jesus is the head of the church. Shepherds guide the local congregation under His headship. Each member can know that God’s grace is found in these men who seek their spiritual welfare guiding them to an eternal home. Submitting will be a joyous following of souls who work together for the glory of the Father.