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.
I love the story about the brand-new pastor who was excited to start his ministry. His first day in the office, his predecessor dropped by. The former pastor had left the church under a cloud of controversy, and he came by to encourage his successor. He said, “If you run into difficulty, I left three envelopes in the top desk drawer for you if you need some encouragement.”
Well, the new pastor had not been there a week when he got accosted in the hallway by a member who was furious over his Sunday school classroom being too warm. And the new pastor was so discouraged, he slithered back to his office and pulled out the first envelope. It said: “‘Be not fearful or dismayed. I am with you,’ sayeth the Lord.” That made him feel better.
A few weeks later, he got a notice that the deacons were calling a special meeting to discuss the declining church attendance, and they wanted him to answer for it. Well, this discouraged him again, so he remembered there was a second envelope to open. It said: “Behold, I am with thee wherever thou goest.” And that promise from the Lord encouraged his heart.
About three months later, the church called a special business meeting to fire the pastor over declining attendance and declining finances. He was at rock bottom. But he remembered there was a final envelope. He went to his desk drawer, opened envelope number three, and read: “Prepare three new envelopes.”
We all know or know of pastors who have gone to the extreme of becoming dictators in the church, or who have fallen into immorality, or who have led the church into financial ruin. But some churches go to the opposite extreme–they treat their pastors as nothing more than hired hands to do their bidding and to keep the temperature right in the Sunday school class. Neither extreme is biblical.
In Hebrews 13, the writer had some words to say on the role and responsibility of the spiritual leaders in the church, and some advice for us on how to treat the spiritual leaders in our lives. His audience was Hebrew Christians who were experiencing persecution and thinking about giving up their faith. So the writer was saying, “God has given you somebody to encourage you to stay on track in your relationship with Him.” And that is the spiritual leader of the church. It is his job to encourage you to stay on track.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How To Treat Your Next Pastor” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org