Faithlife Sermons

Helping Leaders Lead (Heb 13:7-19 & 22-25)

Hebrews: Jesus is Better  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  48:49
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How to Follow Well

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Intro: Leadership blunders
Listening to an older sermon by another godly leader that I really appreciate. - topic of family discussion being dad’s failures. I’m not sure I’m old enough yet to divulge my family leadership blunders, but I’ll share one from my youth.
Me (a junior high macho man) leading a small group of barefoot boys out over the walls of the dorm, purchasing rotisserie chicken, climbing a small mountain we called “Mt. Baldy.” - There was a really cute girl camping out with her class up top that night.
Dad heard about my punishment, but instead of being angry and defensive, he supported the school leadership for disciplining us. That’s good leadership.
Leaders have a real privilege, I guess, but definitely a very dangerous risk too. When they screw up, they’re taking others with them. That’s why it’s pretty important who and how we follow. And why it’s paramount that we do a good job helping leaders lead well.
There’s some really good instruction for us in that regard in this final section of Hebrews. Listen actively and attentively with an ear to understand and apply God’s truth:
Read passage (Heb. 13:17-19,22-25 and PRAY.

Trust and submit to godly leaders (v. 17a)

First, let me explain the first phrase in our text, bc our translations have definitely caught the main thrust of it’s meaning, but there’s a nuance in the Greek that is actually super helpful.
- What we have translated as obey more specifically means being persuaded by, to put confidence in, to put trust in someone.
- Submission is obedient action and obedient attitudes. Submission is the inner motivation of “readiness to comply.”
- So I’ve rephrased this as submit trustingly to godly leaders.
In all seriousness, it isn’t that easy to come by trustworthy leaders. Not even in the Church. That shouldn’t be true, but it is.
And I get it, as a leader your life is often under a microscope. (especially those celebrity pastors and leaders)
Find guys who are submitting their own hearts and lives under the microscope of God’s word… help them, challenge them, encourage them, and follow them with trusting submission. (Obviously you can’t do that with leaders who refuse to be “known.” - By contrast, Paul’s words to the Thessalonian church: Just to get the effect, glance with me quickly at 1 Thess 2:1-12.)
Now never assume your leaders are flawless. Never assume your leaders have got it all together. Never assume they don’t also need shepherding. Never assume that they are automatically submitting their hearts to God’s word in every facet of life. Never assume everything they say, even in teaching, is a perfectly accurate reflection of the letter and spirit of God’s word. - But man, when you find leaders who aren’t vying for leadership by worldly methods but are humbly willing to lead bc of God’s sovereign direction, who aim to lead according to God’s will from his word, who humbly accept their need for growth and help, whose goal is to elevate Christ and see the gospel advanced in your heart and in the hearts of others… man, trustingly submit to that kind of leadership and commit to helping them lead by being fully devoted followers of Christ who pray for, support, and hold their leaders accountable to God’s truth.
When you are blessed by God to be served and supported by godly leaders who take their character before God and commitment to God’s mission seriously, give them them benefit of the doubt. Leaders aren’t perfect. And we know we need to earn your trust. But don’t burn us at the stake for every minor mistake! Give us the same grace that you would want. Follow like you would want to be followed. Submit trustingly to godly leaders.
Be persuaded by them. Put confidence in them. Have a readiness to comply. (whether they be your parents or your church leaders…) WHY? Bc their hearts are for your deepest need and highest good. And bc they are accountable to God for how they handle their responsibility to God for you.
And HOW can we HELP our leaders (with the weight of that responsibility)?

Be a joy to lead (v. 17b)

Our text adds let them do this [lead] with joy and not with groaning. And it’s to your own benefit if you that.
- The admittedly difficult task of leadership is made joyful in an atmosphere of trust and cooperative unity.
Our elders meetings are often filled with laughter. Not all the time, mind you, but often.
- Don’t be a pain. Behaving with a bad attitude is unprofitable for you. - Let me explain a little more here about our perception of other leaders and their ability to lead. - Sometimes your attitude just stinks. I get so saddened and (truthfully) frustrated when I hear people nitpicking about their leaders not handling things the way they would prefer. So you don’t agree with their organizational strategy? So what? So they don’t do things the way your last leader did, or what you grew up with? So what? So they don’t measure up to the famous leader you only ever see on TV or social media? (C’mon, that person sweats and has gas too if you’re around them enough. Right?) And most likely you don’t know how much work your church leaders do as elders bc you miss out on the majority of the conversations, corrections, comfortings, and the all around struggles with determining the best course of action for a church family.
Let them lead. - Married ladies, the most helpful thing you can do for your husband as the leader of your home is to pray for him. (which skips forward to our next point) The second is to let him lead.
And I just want to say, by and large, that certainly isn’t the spirit around here. I hope the other leaders feel it as much as I do that you guys, in so many ways, make it a real joy to serve you. Your gratitude and helpfulness make being your servant leaders a real pleasure. And for that I sincerely thank you.

Pray urgently for leaders (vv. 18-19)

It’s now the author asking for prayer for himself and his team of leaders. Paul does this repeatedly too, and I find it so refreshing. These guys want prayer bc they know they need prayer. They depend on God and not on themselves. That’s a great sign to you as a follower!
And why is praying for our leaders so critical (I mean besides the fact that God commands us to pray and that our leaders clearly need more of Jesus and less of themselves)? - Bc “People who lead churches will determine the future of the Church.” (Todd Wagner) - A.W. Tozer who said Christianity today is what its leaders were in the recent past, and Christianity is going to become tomorrow what its leaders are in the present. - I say that’s a pretty good reason for us to pray for God’s intervention.
Pray for your leaders to have a clear conscience before God, empowering them to act honorably in all things.
- So along those lines, If I may make a personal plea for your prayers: Pray for a pure heart, and for wisdom and the boldness to carry it out. In short… Pray for me to be someone worth following.
Pray for your leaders to be unburdened and unhindered by circumstances.

Be teachable (vv. 22ff)

Readily receive instruction from godly leaders. - Accept instruction, endure correction.
Their primary objective on the teaching side is to instruct in sound doctrine from God’s word. So don’t be a hardhead who shrugs off stuff you don’t like. Don’t leave the church bc these leaders love you enough to hold you accountable to a high standard (Col. 1:10). Don’t leave or be the sea urchin in the petting tank just bc you feel like you’d be a better leader than the ones God has put in place. (which of course even saying reveals a great irony — assuming you’d be better than the current Christian leaders pretty much disqualifies you from being someone wise leaders would elevate to leadership… in other words, Christians who aren’t good followers can’t be good leaders… We must humble ourselves and let God do his will in due time. I have to be content to lead in the opportunities and responsibilities God gives and follow well in the places that he has put others above me!)
(perhaps a way to summarize the points?) Look for ways to be a blessing—not just to the leaders, but to the body. (bc that blesses the leaders)
?Rich and Buzz’s example of good leadership by following and helpfulness.
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