Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 1 Thes. 5:12-13 NIV 1984
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. Hebrews 13:17 NIV 1984
The Apostle Paul and the author of Hebrews both recognized the leadership hierarchy and corresponding authority in the Kingdom. Whether is was a local assembly (Ephesus) or a scattering of believers (Hebrews audience) there were leaders in place who were tasked with shepherding the flocks entrusted to their care.
The Ephesians are instructed to be sure to treat their leadership with respect and hold them in highest regard in love. The final note to live at peace with each other assumes that we will not always agree with our leadership and their decisions. Whether we agree or not, we are still to respect and hold in highest regard those over us in the Lord.
The audience of the Hebrews letter got an even more pointed exhortation. They were told to obey their leaders and submit to their authority. Note the assumption that to disobey or rebel against spiritual leadership (see v. 7) could be a common mistake. The reason for submitting to and obeying spiritual leadership is that it is for our own advantage. If their leadership of us is a joy rather than a burden, the resulting actions and decisions will be to bless rather than burden us. Would you rather be led with a carrot or a stick?
We are to honor and hold in highest regard our spiritual leaders “because of their work.” Kingdom leadership is voluntary and those who serve in these roles do so out of obedience to Christ’s personal calling. It only takes a short time after accepting any leadership role before the realities and responsibilities of the job outnumber any preconceived advantages. Leadership is hard work!
So, how’s your attitude toward your spiritual leaders? Are you submitting to their authority? Are you treating them with respect? Are you holding them in high regard because of their work?