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.
– Hebrews 13:17
As a pastor texts like Hebrews 13:17 are difficult for me to preach and teach. I am always afraid, if I am not careful, that I will come across as power-hungry or arrogant. Through Jesus Christ, I am not, but I still worry. Nevertheless, these are God’s words and if we are to be a Biblical church, we must know them and submit to them.
The reason I want to draw your attention to this passage is that just a few hours after you receive this, much of the leadership of our church will gather for the purposes of prayer, discerning God’s will for our church, and strategically planning for the future. During this time we will have two main groups of people in mind: you and those God is calling us to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On behalf of our elders, staff, and ministry team I want to tell you how seriously we take our calling. In particular, the end of that first sentence in Hebrews 13:17 weighs heavily on us. As those who lead God’s people we will one day give an account for your soul.
Secondly, we are told to undertake this work with joy, not groaning. The reason for this is that it would not help you if we did not enjoy our work. For the men and women that will gather, our ministry is both a delight and a burden and we carry it joyfully. It is our privilege to serve you in the ways we do.
Finally, you may have noticed that I have yet to challenge you to obey your leaders and submit to them (the beginning of this command). That is because I believe this obedience and submission must be earned through Godly, servant-leadership. In fact, I believe if we as leaders remember that we will give an account for other souls and approach our tasks joyfully, you will find it easy to submit to that kind of leadership. So, according to this way of thinking, even though this is a command to those under leadership, it is much more a challenge to leaders to serve humbly and faithfully.
As we prepare to retreat together this weekend, I want you to know how much respect and admiration I have for the elders, staff, and ministry team of our church. They are men and women of Godly character, compassion, and they are servant-hearted. As we gather together, our deepest desire is to glorify God and serve Him. We covet your prayers on Friday evening and all-day Saturday. As God leads you, please pray specifically for these areas:
- Pray that, first and foremost, our time together would be worshipful to God and centered on His Word.
- Pray for humility, fellowship, and unity among our leadership.
- Pray for discernment of God’s will and desire as well as the courage and boldness to pursue it wholeheartedly.
- Pray for wisdom and vision in our leadership of others to pursue joy in Jesus Christ.
Thank you in advance for your faith-filled prayers. As for this week, I am excited to begin a new series of messages that will communicate and call our church toward a renewed sense of purpose and vision. The series is called Committed with the subtitle, “What defines us.” Beginning this Sunday, I will unpack a slightly revamped Purpose Statement for our existence as a church and then, in the weeks following, identify four Commitments that drive everything we do. Along the way, I will also highlight five central Values that make Our Saviour Evangelical Free Church a, somewhat, unique place to belong.
Please pray for these things as well. These are very exciting times at OSEFC, however, we must be mindful that they are not exciting because of our strength, but because of God’s abundant provision. To Him be the glory forever! Sunday will be an exciting day. I will see you there.
For the sake of His name,