Thursday, May 14, 2015

It Goes Both Ways: Pastor Leadership and Church Submission

Ministry is like a three legged stool*: pastoring, preaching, and leading. Most pastors are strong on at least one leg and weak on at least one other. It is rare to find a perfectly balanced minister. As such, many feel wobbly at best. To neglect one is to collapse the entire stool. I am guilty of this myself feeling more confident in both my preaching and pastoring. I have a strong sense of calling to publically proclaim "Thus says the Lord," and to hold the hand of the sick and dying bringing gospel-comfort to the suffering.

My weakest point, however, is leadership and it is a subject I have been thinking a lot about lately. I have invested in a number of helpful books (like Albert Mohler's The Conviction to Lead) and sought godly counseling from men who are strong leaders. And now I find myself in a ministry position with staff that requires leadership. My honest weakness is more evident.

Through this process a thought has come to mind worth sharing. The New Testament is clear that pastors must lead (1 Peter 5:1ff) yet equally important, the local church must desire to be led. A pastor's leadership is only as strong as the church's submission to that leadership.

It goes both ways. A pastor must lead; the church must desire leadership.

I readily confess many ministers struggle with leadership like me. I also confess that some are simply incompetent leaders. Yet rarely is a church exhorted to submit to its leaders and encourage them to lead yet this is precisely what Scripture teaches:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. -Hebrews 13:17
In the end, let us realize that a church insincere about the gospel is a church that will devour its pastors. Many pastors might be weak in the area of leadership, but they still understand they are called to lead. Any church that desires to be healthy and strong and desires to keep pastors in order build a lasting legacy and foundation must be one that submits to their pastor.

* Illustration taken from Trevin Wax in his helpful books Counterfeit Gospels which speaks of the gospel as a 3-legged stool.
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