“What was he thinking?” “Why in the world doesn’t that coach pull that guy?” “Why do they keep running the ball instead of passing it?” “Those players are terrible, they have no idea what they are doing!” “Cut Roy Williams and Alex Barron!” Sadly, I have said all of these statements about the beloved Dallas Cowboys at one time or another. My wife constantly laughs and says to me, “I know honey; you would do a much better job of calling the plays because you have put in years of playing Madden NFL on the PS3!” (Susan is right by the way…)
Susan recently was asked to be the keynote speaker at a ladies function at church. For several weeks, I watched her work extremely hard on her two sermons. It was a very surreal experience for both of us. In fact it was a complete role reversal. I am normally the one who would come home and run my sermon by her but instead she was the one running her sermon by me. Even though I didn’t hear her present her lessons at the ladies function, I heard glowing remarks and I could not have been more proud of her. When the experience was over, I recall Susan sharing how much more respect she has for preachers because “preaching is harder than it looks.”
I began to think about all the times in my life that I sat “on the sidelines” and was critical of others because after all that is the easy thing to do. Personally, I do get tired of being around people who constantly complain. They complain about the not having any rain and then when God blesses us with rain they complain because it interferes with their personal plans. People complain about the coaching/playing of their sports teams and often are never privied to what is happening in the locker room or personal lives of those players. Even more importantly, I am saddened by the number of Christians who say negative things about leadership: elders, deacons, ministry leaders, preachers, etc. I often wonder if all the “armchair quarterbacks” were put into the positions of the “players” would they have more respect for the hard work and effort of others?
In the book of Hebrews chapter 13 we four principles about how to treat those in leadership positions.
(vs. 7) “REMEMBER your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” As Christians we are told to remember those who influenced our spiritual relationship with Christ and have now gone home to be with the Lord. We need to reflect on how their lives deeply impacted our faith and we need to display faithful living to all of those around us.
(vs 17) “OBEY your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden for that would be of no advantage to you.” Here the Hebrew writer is specifically discussing the role of elders. Elders have the oversight of the congregation. Christians are to obey them and submit to them. Elders are to look after the spiritual life of the Christian as a shepherd looks after his sheep. If Christians obey and submit to the elders, their work shall be a joy. If not, the elders’ work will be grief. Elders desire that Christians live faithful lives. They must do all they can to assist and guide Christians because elders will give account of their work before God.
(vs. 18) “PRAY for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.” The word of God teaches that we need to continually pray for one another because it is good and effective.
(vs. 24) “GREET all you leaders and all God’s people…” Here the Hebrew writer concludes the epistle by sending greetings to the leaders and elders and all the Christians.
What would happen in the church and in the hearts of every believer if we began to meditate and put into practice these four principles? Do you believe that there would be more peace and joy within your life and within the lives of those in leadership? Personally speaking…those of us, who have dedicated our lives to serving the flock, do it wholeheartedly. We are striving to put our spiritual gifts into practice to glorify God and to serve others. Far too often, leadership hears nothing but criticism by the flock because the flock feels they have all the right answers. Is this the attitude that God longs for His children to display in their lives? Is this the type attitude that Jesus displayed? We all need to be more uplifting and encouraging to others but more importantly we need to stop serving as armchair quarterbacks and put ourselves in the game by actively serving our Lord Most High.
A few years ago I remember Kyle Bolton sharing a statement that I have written in the bottom of my Bible. “When a servant of God is in the will of God; teaching the Word of God; the people should submit.”
May God bless us as we strive to become more like Jesus.