Follow the leader (part 1)
When the Scriptures give us a direction, it’s always best that we pay attention. If we observe God talking about the same subject more than once…well…then He’s putting down some emphasis that we need to linger on.
Twice in his closing statements and encouragements, the author of Hebrews mentions how the church body should be acting toward our church leaders. The first one reads as follows:
Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.
When looking for a mentor, role model, or Godly example, those who lead in the church should be at the top of our list. However, the author does not give his approval to cast a wide net and grab ahold of any church member in any leadership position. He says to focus on the ones who have spoken God’s word to you. Does your preacher teach from the Bible, or does he only teach from pop-psychology to keep the audience engaged? When you ask a question, does your teacher point you toward God’s perspective, or she rely on feel-good statements and stories?
The leaders who have spoken God’s word to you are the ones worthy of observation and imitation.
Learning to be like Jesus is a lifelong journey. We’re not going to figure out whose lives and faith are worth imitating by only checking them out at a surface level. It will be impossible for us to evaluate the outcome of a leader’s relationship with God if our only interaction is by watching him online or reading her books. This is why it is best to be involved with our local church. Find a leader there who is worth partnering with and learning from.
Once you’ve found a good example, how should we follow them? Notice the author says to imitate their faith. Now, let’s be clear – he doesn’t tell his readers to act out their faith in the same way their leaders have done. They don’t also have to be preachers, teachers, worship leaders…instead they should be trusting God as they use the gifts He has given them.
They are to imitate the leader’s character and reliance on God – not to try and do the exact same skill in the exact same way their leader operates. This is why the author says to carefully observe the outcome of their lives. When we are able to watch closely, we can see the strength of their faith in God…which drives their ability to lead (instead of us guessing about their relationship from afar). We must also keep in mind there are many ways to exercise our faith and demonstrate our reliance on Him. God does not expect us to be carbon-copies of our pastor, teachers, and other leaders.
So, the first part of following church leadership looks like this:
· Stay local
· Find a leader who points you toward God’s Word and God’s perspective
· Observe their lives
· Imitate their faith in God as you act out your own