We can find stacks of books and online resources regarding leadership. Each author has a unique way of communicating and explaining to us what leadership is. Almost all of these books suggest or imply that we must become followers first to be great leaders. This wisdom reverberates in many secular books and almost all Christian books. And this beautiful nugget of wisdom is rooted in the Word of God. If we truly understand what leadership means and what it means to submit to our leaders, then the Bible should be our standard.
Should I submit to leadership? As Christians, the answer to that is a resounding Yes. In (Hebrews 13:17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.), Paul said that we must obey our leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over our souls as those who will give an account. What can we learn from this verse? First, the word and the action of leading a group of people or organization are real. Leadership truly exists. And not only does leadership exist, but it is essential to the organization, protection, and preservation of the social structure. The second thing we can learn from the passage is that our leaders exist to watch over our souls.
Submitting to leadership is a gain for us. We do not submit to our leaders for them to be exalted and placed on a higher pedestal. But we submit that they may keep watch over our souls (Hebrews 13:17). Submission is a beautiful world, and its concept has been repeated several times in the Bible. Submitting to our leaders means that we are giving someone the responsibility to take good care of our souls and well-being. Paul added, “let them do this with joy and not grief, for this would be unprofitable to you.” If we are to submit to our leaders, we need to make sure we submit joyfully.
The Bible tells us that we are not only to submit to our leaders but that we also need to submit with joy and cheer. The fall of the leader is the fall of the organization or institution. Bad leaders generate bad followers, and bad followers achieve nothing. But if we put joy, enthusiasm, positivity, faith, and trust in our God-given leaders, we can rest assured that our goals, missions, visions, and desires will be fulfilled. Remember that obeying our leaders, especially Church leaders, is also obeying Christ. Submission to church leadership is also submission to Christ Himself.
But what if the leader is not a Christian? What if the leader is not following a moral compass that is powered by the Word of God?
In Romans 13, God tells us that we are to submit to governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established. It is even said in Romans 13:2 that rebelling against authority is the same as rebelling against God himself. But then again, what if the leader is not good or benevolent? The Bible clearly states Christians should “hold no terror for those who do right.” The Bible is also very clear in 1 Peter 2:15, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” The instruction continues in verses 17-21, “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing when mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (ESV)
The Bible says that we must respect our leaders, not only the good and gentle leaders but also the unjust ones. Even if our leaders are selfish, unfair, insensitive, or do not believe in God, still, as Christians, we are called to show them respect, honor, and love. Submitting to a leader, regardless of their beliefs, is good, and God is pleased with this. It is our opportunity to represent Christ and show the world that we Christians are not rebellious by nature. Submit to your leaders but don’t compromise your faith. We are to speak in truth and we should be bold about it. But remember, when we speak truth to our unbelieving leaders, we need to make sure that we speak the truth inlove (Ephesians 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,).
Obedience and submission to God’s commandments should extinguish our murmurings, complaints, and dissatisfaction. Let us proceed in life with faith and trust in what the Lord has commanded us. His ways are definitely not our ways, but His are always the best and always for our good. By becoming a good representative of Christ – by becoming followers of Christ and submitting to our leaders – we are obeying what the Lord has commanded. Let us submit to our leaders and trust in the Lord, for God wishes us to live life to the fullest (John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.) and be able to enjoy His promises of eternal life (John 3:16).