December 11

Who is Your (Real) Pastor? Part 1

Hebrews 13:17 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.

I Thessalonians 5:12-13a And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.

Acts 14:23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Rightly relating to our spiritual authorities is a matter of the heart. We may belong to a certain church with a certain pastor or group of elders, but being submissive to them as spiritual authorities isn’t a given. It’s up to us to make sure that happens.

Some things haven’t changed since the first century. God is still planting local churches, and is raising up and appointing the leadership in those churches. But we live in a wildly rebellious age. Rebellion (like deception) is like carbon monoxide poisoning; we usually don’t feel it as it’s poisoning us. While we might “feel” free in our independence, we are missing the blessing of following and rightly relating to those He has anointed in their position.

Some of us simply don’t like the concept of someone being “over us.” If we really understood spiritual authority, we would realize that pastors are accountable directly to God (not always an enviable position), and a good pastor is a servant-leader, not someone who acts as “lords over those entrusted to [them].” (I Peter 5:3a)

What can get confusing is how to relate to the pastor. There are different kinds of relating. Some will be close to the pastor, and some will be directly mentored. We may be someone whose only contact is hearing the weekly preaching, or attending the occasional teaching and seeing the pastor at a distance. We also may receive a great deal of encouragement and teaching from the many good writers and preachers “out there.” But no matter how much we may receive from other leaders or teachers, we still have to rightly relate to the pastor God’s given us.

If God has called you to a place, submit in your heart to that pastor and to the leadership team. That just means that you recognize their spiritual authority as a covering and protection over you, and that, as you bring faith to your listening, you believe God will use them to help you grow. You can continue to read and learn and watch DVDs to your heart’s content. Just place yourself, in your heart, under your pastors’ and leaders’ authority and care.

If you can’t, you’re too stubborn, too independent and rebellious, or in the wrong church.

Prayer: Lord, I recognize that You have established churches and ordained leadership in those churches. Help me to have a proper, prayerful attitude toward the pastor and leadership team in my church. No matter what contact I may have, or how much other ministry I receive from others, help me to be rightly related in my heart to the one You’ve put over my church.

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