The following was the preach that I did at Mattersey Hall on the 16th March 2017, I have previously added preaches and such to previous blogs that I have done, so they will eventually be added on here within due time but here it is, hopefully you can be blessed reading this in some way.
Good morning everyone, it is truly a blessing to be providing God’s word for you this morning. This morning I was going to talk on the mauling of children by 2 bears in 2 Kings (look it up), but I feel that God has told me to talk on something a bit more appropriate then not calling someone “baldy” (maybe next year). This morning I’d like to start off by reading from Hebrews chapter 13 and verse 17. It reads:
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
I can remember the first time reading this and my initial reaction was ‘Well durp! That’s obvious isn’t it?’ Why wouldn’t I want to do that? The leaders that were in my life at the time were amazing, there were my parents, my pastor and tutors from school and college why wouldn’t I follow their instruction? But then someone who was in a leading role at my home church started asking me to do stuff or leading in a way that I felt was not appropriate for a leader to do, then that verse pops in my head and then through gritted teeth I’m just like “But they’re wrong”, and that’s when I realised that obedience isn’t doing something when you want to do it. It’s doing it whether you liked it or not.
I can remember when there were times in my life where people have asked me to do stuff and I didn’t want to do it, whether that’s because their attitude stunk, or it was something that I couldn’t really be bothered with.
Being Submissive Under Leadership
So the question that I want to ask is, if we are called to be in Christian leadership, how should we be obedient? How, as leaders can we be submissive? Well the first thing we need to be submissive is to God Himself. Otherwise if we don’t want to listen to what He wants us to do, then genuinely what is the point? But God always challenges us to do the things that we really don’t want to do. He called Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, he called Jonah to go to Nineveh and he called Ananias to go a pray for Saul and if you read them, they don’t go all churpy saying “Alright God! Whatever you say!” They don’t do that, they either question Him, or in Jonah’s case he does a runner and heads in the opposite direction. But God just tells them all that what he has in store is all a part of his amazing plan and they all say in one way or another, “You’re in charge God, I guess” As what Ananias and Moses says to Him, we need to make ourselves open for God to move in us, when God calls us by our own name we need to say to Him, “Here I am.” Making ourselves open to serving God for His kingdom and to continue glorifying His name.
So being submissive to God is the first and foremost of what we should be doing, but what about being submissive to our leaders? Well with that we can look at is from the Old Testament, with David and King Saul. Now we all know that Saul was the first king of Israel, started not listening to God and so Samuel (under God’s authority) anoints David and is to succeed Saul as king of Israel. Now imagine you’re David, this old guy has come up to you and has said ‘Oi! Shepherd boy! You’re going to be king after this geezer, he’s not up to scratch with the G-Man!’ and then you’re then serving under him. If I was in David’s shoes, I’ll be like Simba in the Lion King, dancing around telling people what to do, going to elephant graveyard’s… Hakuna Matata, etc.
But David isn’t Simba. David served under Saul and did the things that he wanted him to. Even when Saul is trying to kill David. David was still servant-hearted to Saul. It says in 1 Samuel 24, when Saul is trying to kill David, it says that David cuts off a piece of Saul’s robe and Saul leaves the cave, then this happens:
Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ – 1 Samuel 24:8-10
You see, David had the opportunity to become king of Israel, he had his supporters and he himself has been anointed by God also, he saw that. But what he also saw was that God anointed Saul, and he submitted under his authority. Now when Saul tried to kill David, he defended himself but when he saw what he did he went out and bowed down in submission. Now what can I say about this? If there was ever someone that needed to get a new leader, it would be David. If I was in David shoes and my king was trying to get rid of me, then I’d be gone! But David stuck and served Saul because that was where God wanted him to be. So when it comes to us in our training to be Christian leaders, we need to have the same servant heart that David has. Now, let’s say your pastor wanted to murder you, I wouldn’t say ‘Oh serve him with all your heart! Polish that knife for him!’ No! I would tell you to phone the police, but if God has placed you in a position with a pastor or someone in leadership that you may not get along with, that leader is still God’s anointed whether you like or not. There’s an old saying in the army: ‘When saluting a general, you salute the uniform and not the one who wears it’ And not only do we as leaders in training have to serve and be submissive to whoever is in our leadership, but we need to love them also, because that is where true submission lies.
Being Submissive in Leadership
But as we grow into leadership we can’t drop the submission like the mic. So as students training in Christian leadership we need to look to Jesus, not only as he is, the head of the church and we follow every single thing that he says, but also the one that left God’s kingdom and again, not only became like us but served us! As we see in John’s Gospel, we see Jesus who is personified as the Word becoming flesh literally lowering himself down and washing the disciples feet:
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them…”
– John 13:12-17
The whole discourse is Jesus telling his disciples that he is going back to the Father and he is preparing them for the great outdoors, to start building the church! And he starts this by lowering himself and doing the work that no one wanted to do, and washing the disciples feet. Like even when Jesus comes to Peter, Peter freaks out he says “Jesus! There’s no way I am letting you wash my feet!” To which Jesus tells him simply “If I don’t wash your feet, then you’re not going to be apart of what I’m doing! Which is for you not only to serve me, but to serve others!” So if we’re to believe that the same words that Christ said to the disciples all of them years ago in that room are applicable to them who were to build the church, then they are still applicable to us as Christian leaders who’s job description is exactly the same as theirs.
So as we draw to a close and we begin to start our day of learning what can I challenge you all to do? Well the first that I can think of which is probably the most important, is to serve God with all your heart. If you don’t do that then truly what is the point of being here? If God has placed you somewhere or has challenged you in your own personal life then you need to say to him “You’re in charge God, you do what you want!” As C.S. Lewis wrote in ‘The Great Divorce’
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” – C.S. Lewis
I don’t want God saying that to me, not going to lie. So full submission to what He has in my life is vital to do the things that He wants me to do for His glory.
And finally, I encourage you to not only serve, but to love your leaders that are in your life right now and for the years to come, not just because when ourselves are in leadership we would like the same, but also it pushes forward with the Kingdom building that God wants us to do, but it also that no matter what happens in our own lives either through our ministry or through our personal lives, we can still lift our eyes and give praise to God.
Lord God I thank You that you gave your beloved son Jesus to show us how to be leaders for Your kingdom, I just pray that whether we are right now in leadership roles or under leadership that we can learn to be submissive to not those that we serve, not only to the ones that we will serve but to You also. Thank You Lord for the leaders that are in our lives right now and I pray that you bless them as they teach us to grow to become more servant hearted and more loving like You.
In Jesus’ name.