“Shepherds and the congregation”Categories: Christian Principles
Heb. 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
In the life of each congregation of the Lord’s church, it is essential that we continue to appoint men who will lead the congregation as shepherds or elders. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 both give the qualifications of the men who are to fulfill this function of leadership in the church. As important as it is to find men who are mature Christians who meet the Biblical standards of leadership, one must keep in mind that this is only one part of what helps a congregation function as God design. Another part of having a faithful congregation is having faithful followers.
Heb. 13:17 points out that the congregation must be one that faithfully follows godly leadership. This passage teaches members of a congregation that they are to follow in such a way that they help their elders enjoy their job as shepherds. This is done in part of being good followers.
I am sure we have been in a situation at one time or another, such as at school or at work, when it seemed that there were “too many coaches and not enough players.” In situations like this, nothing can get accomplished, the same is true in the congregation. If the congregation did not have leaders to lead and followers to follow the congregation would debate every idea and situation that came along, and nothing would be accomplished.
Although it is true wise shepherds are open to suggestions, and advice, after all, Pro. 15:22 tells us, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.” But with all the counsel and advice elders may receive, they still need to make a decision and give direction to the congregation. Sometimes shepherds must make the hard choices, (like how to deal with the pandemic). It is during difficult decisions elders need the understanding of the congregation and “good followership”; Heb. 13:17 puts it “Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Of course, Heb. 13:17 is not talking about following an eldership that wants to deviate from God’s Word of truth, and lead people away from God but as an eldership follows Christ, the congregation should follow them.
Being good followers helps the church to function with unity, with a single mind, and helps the whole congregation to function in brotherly love (see 1 Cor. 1:10).
It is essential to have godly men shepherding the congregation, but it is also essential that we have faithful members following Christ and our elders as they strive to help each member on their journey to Heaven.
Written by Mark T. Tonkery