At the same time, however, the kind of trust that we are called to give to our fellow imperfect humans in this life, be they family or friends, employers or government officials, or even leaders in a church, can never finally be earned. It must be given as a gift – a gift in faith, in trust more of the God who gives than of the leaders He has given (Eph. 4:11-13).
More especially is the uniting of a faithful minister with a particular Christian people, as their pastor, when done in a due manner, like a young man marrying a virgin… It is so with respect to mutual regard and affection. A faithful minister, that is in a Christian manner united to a Christian people as their pastor, has his heart united to them in the most ardent and tender affection. And they, on the other hand, have their hearts united to him, esteeming him very highly in love for his work’s sake, and receiving him with honor and reverence, and willingly subjecting themselves to him, and committing themselves to his care, as being, under Christ, their head and guide…. When such a minister and such a people are thus united, it is attended with great joy. The minister joyfully devoting himself to the service of his Lord in the work of the ministry, as a work that he delights in; and also joyfully uniting himself to the society of the saints that he is set over, as having complacence in them, for his dear Lord’s sake, whose people they are; and willingly and joyfully, on Christ’s call, undertaking the labors and difficulties of the service of their souls. And they, on the other hand; joyfully receiving him as a precious gift of their ascended Redeemer.
1. Members should formally affirm their pastors. 2. Members should honor their pastors. 3. Members should submit to their pastors. 4. Members should pray for their pastors. 5. Members should bring charges against disqualified pastors. 6. Members should fire gospel-denying pastors.
How Does a Christian Submit to a Church by Jonathan Leeman taken from Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman, copyright (2012), Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, Summarized, p. 104-106.
In many churches today the congregation rules the leaders. This sort of government is foreign to the New Testament.
It is a serious (and all too common) thing for stubborn, self-willed people in church congregations to rob their pastors of the joy God intends faithful pastors to have. Failure to properly submit brings grief rather than joy to pastors, and consequently brings grief and displeasure to God, who sends them to minister over us. Grief (stenazontes) means an inner, unexpected groaning. It is a grief often known only to the pastor, his family, and to God. Because lack of submission is an expression of selfishness and self-will, unruly congregations are not likely to be aware of, or care about, the sorrow they cause their pastor and other leaders (Heb. 13:17).
God’s word is clear: the people in the pews are to appreciate, esteem, love, imitate, obey, and submit to faithful biblical leaders and not to cause them grief [see 1 Thes. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:7, 17].
The church cannot be expected to do its work effectively if their followers are not loyally supporting the leaders. It’s a matter of fact that we’re often slow to realize to this day that effective leadership in the church of Christ demands effective following. If we’re continually critical of them that are set over us, small wonder if they’re unable to perform the miracles that we demand of them. If we bear in mind the work’s sake, we may be more inclined to esteem them very highly in love.
Contrary to contemporary wisdom, the Bible teaches that one cannot yield to the authority of the Word without submitting to the authority of the church.
It cannot be emphasized enough that once a congregation votes a man in as an elder, they should cooperate with and submit to his leadership joyfully. Without a sincere intention and effort to cooperate with the leadership of the church, there is no point in electing elders to lead the congregation. Unless the elders are leading in an unbiblical or sinful way, uncooperative members are simply a bane to the local church and should seek fellowship elsewhere if their presence becomes divisive (Mark Dever and Paul Alexander).
A follow of Jesus Christ who seeks to lead like Jesus must be willing to be treated like Jesus. Some will follow. Others will throw stones (C. Gene Wilkes).
Sometimes pastors become pastures. The sheep feed in them and trample them, but so not follow them (Mark Absher).
When I submit to the leaders God places over me, I do so not in trust of them, but in trust of God who placed them. My trust is not that they will always make the right decisions, but rather, that God is able to work in their hearts and in my life even in their mistakes. The bottom line of submission on every level is not “Can I trust this leader,” but “Can I trust God to work in, through, and in spite of this leader?”
And who and what are ministers themselves? Frail men, fallible, sinning men, exposed to every snare, to temptation in every form; and from the very post of observation they occupy, the fairer mark for the fiery darts of the foe. They are no mean victims the great Adversary is seeking, when he would wound and cripple Christ’s ministers. One such victim is worth more to the kingdom of darkness than a score of common men; and on this very account, the temptations are probably more subtle and severe than those encountered by ordinary Christians. If this subtle Deceiver fails to destroy them, he artfully aims at neutralizing their influence by quenching the fervor of their piety, lulling them into negligence, and doing all in his power to render their work irksome. How perilous the condition of that minister then, whose heart is not encouraged, whose hands are not strengthened, and who is not upheld by the prayers of his people! It is not in his own closet and on his own knees alone that he finds security and comfort and ennobling, humbling and purifying thoughts and joys; but it is when his people also seek them in his behalf that he becomes a better and happier man and a more useful minister of the everlasting gospel.
Pastors are sinners. They have weaknesses and faults just like church members. This is not to say that they are not to live as an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3) and are not to have met certain moral qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). But we must be realistic about their sinful nature. They will continually do battle with the old nature which is still part of their lives, and will do so as long as they live. Total victory over sin will not be won in this life. Sanctification will take place; victories will occur; bad habits and sins will be overcome – but there will be many battles to fight until the day of glory… Remember that your pastor and his family constantly live in a fishbowl for all the church to see – and sometimes the sight is not going to be particularly attractive. They are humans also!
[In the eyes of some Congregants] you aren’t a human anymore when you become a pastor. You are thing. A thing that is there to baptize them, bless them, pray for them, and serve them, but if you cross them, fail them, or fall short for them they will leave you to go find another thing. No one goes to the doctor because they care how the doctor feels. They go to the doctor to get better…and once they are they will have no use for the doctor.