“God has given you leaders responsible to guide you by convincing you to obey. Submit yourselves to that leadership role.
The Bible says that we should obey people positioned in God-designed leadership roles. We should obey because they convince us to follow, not because they dictate or demand.
Of course, that pretty much means that people not convinced will not obey. That is so obvious that a discussion seems a waste of time. Right? But, this verse has become a rally cry for both sides of the discussion. One side says it tells us to follow along if feel good about it. The other side says it commands obedience for no other reason than the leader says so.
- This verse communicates obedience and submission. It is impossible to remove that meaning from the Greek words Holy Spirit inspired.
The discussion centers upon obedience and submission to someone given a role. The leader stands in a position God designed. The leader has a role within the relationship. The relationship between leader and God’s people defines the responsibilities of the leader.
Leadership is a God-designed fundamental of all relational dynamics. Yet, leadership is not the same in the kingdom as it is in the world. Both the world and the kingdom have established orders. They have structures for culture. They define relationships in opposite extremes.
God has an order for kingdom culture. God designs the relationships. The relationship designs have roles and responsibilities. In every instance, the role in the relationship defines the responsibilities. God designed relational leadership roles and responsibilities for marriage, family, kingdom, and government.
This verse speaks to kingdom leadership.
- The phrase that speaks with greater power to the intention of the write says, “They watch for your souls responsible to give an account.”
The inescapable point is accountability. The leader gives account to God. The people give account to the leader. Healthy relational dynamics will produce joy in accounting. Dysfunctional relational dynamics will produce grief in accounting.
Jesus applies the shepherd motif to leadership. He says, “Shepherds are responsible for wandering lambs. Shepherds first secure the ones who are not wandering. Then, they seek the one lost.”
Notice the relational dynamic Jesus describes in the leadership He designs. The convinced sheep follow. The convinced sheep obey voice commands. They recognize the shepherd. The convinced sheep submit to direction.
The verse raises our eyes to see eternal accountability. We look up to Heaven and see that God has designed leaders to make us accountable. We also see that God watches the leaders, as the leaders for watch our souls.
- To empty these words of leadership, obedience, or submission requires dishonesty. That is, a person can do so if they please. Doing is dishonest. The words mean what they mean. The verse commands what it commands.
It is important to begin with what God says to determine what God means. The verse says leaders watch for souls in a role that answers to God. This inescapable conclusion remains obvious. The issue is not and cannot be about obedience and submission. The issue is about how this obedience and submission comes about.
Hear Jesus in speaking of the shepherd say, “The authentic shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The role of a kingdom leader makes the leader vulnerable, not the sheep.
What is best for the sheep remains the highest call for obedience and submission. Demanding obedience and submission has no place in kingdom leadership.
4. The leader answers to God for his watch. The leader answers for what best for the souls of those he leads. The leader also answers for the ministry he leads because the ministry has an assignment.
The people following do not determine the assignment or the leader. They obey and submit because based upon convincing persuasion. The revelation of the leader communicates the purpose of the assignment. The people either obey and submit to producing that assignment or not. The leader can gather in wandering sheep only by persuasion. That persuasion can be firm but not dictatorial.
The leader stands by to watch the soul rebel at times. That is why the verse says, “With joy not grief.”
Kingdom Leadership Protocols
No one has an authentic role of leadership to usurp, lord it over, control, manipulate, or intimidate another kingdom citizen in family, ministry, or government. This is contrary to the Bible.
The Bible does presuppose trust as the foundation of shared passion. Shared passion is the basis for submission. Submission is the basis for obedience.
Shared passion says, “I am convinced of your leadership so much that I will sacrifice my passion. My motivation will be the motivation you share with Jesus. In this way, the passion of the Father that burns in Jesus will be my passion.”
As a kingdom leader, you cannot force anyone to obey or follow. You are not looking for slaves but sons. The convincing will be the most tested aspect of your relationship with people. This the make or break of your leadership, but the issue is never completely in your hands.
People may choose to remain unconvinced. People may choose to short-circuit the process of preparation that deepens trust. People may choose to wander or quit. People may choose to limit trust, spurn shared passion, and diminish submission. People did all these things with Jesus.
Jesus experienced leadership short-circuits. Jesus did not fail as a Leader with the crowds or the disciples.
People refused to trust Him, share His passion, submit to His assignment, and obey His leadership strategy. People caused Him both joy and grief by their responses.
Jesus remains our Leadership Model. His leadership was perfectly consistent with Hebrews 13:7.