Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Leadership, submission, respect


Hebrews 13:17 (page 853) February 13, 2011


"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."

Our theme for 2011 is "The Next Step: Following Jesus into the unknown" and as we've said, "Every one of us has a next step. For some it might be the first step of surrendering their lives to Christ, but after that step every single person who calls themselves a Christian is expected to grow, to become more mature in Christ, and that growth cannot happen if we are stuck in one place, complacent or apathetic in our spiritual lives. Growing in Christ always involves a "Next Step."

The key to that truth is that "disciples are made" by following in the footsteps of leaders. Jesus modeled this example with his disciples and expects His church to practice that same model for discipleship and growth.

Jesus was a leader who was close enough to his followers they could relate, but was far enough ahead to motivate them. He understood that people are changed not by coercion or intimidation, but by example. He understood that there is a huge difference between a "Boss" and a "Leader."

Every Jew in Jerusalem lived under a boss. Rome occupied Judea. Rome had its laws and its soldiers to make sure they were obeyed. It’s the exact reason Jesus says to his disciples…

"You know that the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them" (Matt. 20:26)

Basically Jesus says "The bosses of the world love to tell you what to do…and love making you do it from behind their desks."

And then Jesus says, "Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant".

Robert Greenleaf said, "Good leaders must first become good servants."

We teach what we know. We reproduce what we are. Jesus was a servant – leader, that is what he sought to reproduce.


Fern Creek Christian Church is filled with servant leaders. Some of them have titles, many don't. But all of them understand good leaders are good servants and that we reproduce what we are.

The writer of Hebrews knew that leadership the church is extremely rewarding, filled with the joy of seeing lives changed, but also extremely difficult if not supported and encouraged.

It's why he says…….


"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority"

The difficulty in this is "authority"….every single one of our hearts raises the "A" Anarchy flag of rebellion. (If you don't know what the Anarchy Flag is ask a teenager).

Disobedience was chosen by our spiritual parents in the Garden of Eden as they ate the forbidden fruit, and that nature inhabits every single person's soul.

We didn’t like it when our parents sat down rules….we don't like it when the government tells us how fast to drive, we struggle when we see and encounter "church policies" and "power struggles". When someone in leadership promotes their interests over someone else's…why are you telling me I can't do this?

George Barna has a new volume called "Moral and Spiritual Anarchy”. He flatly states that moral anarchy has arrived and rules our culture today. The argument hinges on….

a substantial amount of attitudinal and behavioral evidence: record bankruptcy levels, frivolous lawsuits, the rapid growth of the pornography industry, highway speeding as the norm, income tax cheating, computer hacking and viruses, rising levels of white collar crime, rampant copyright violations (movies, books, recordings), terrorism and intimidation tactics, net-based plagiarism, emotional comfort with lying and cheating, increasing rates of co-habitation and adultery, and so forth.

Moreover, Barna takes the argument farther and suggests that the United States is now in a state of spiritual anarchy as well. He mentioned that millions of people's faith activity is no longer affected by parameters such as church loyalty, respect for clergy, acceptance of absolutes, tolerance of Christianity, reverence for God, a desire to strive for personal holiness, sensitivity to theological heresy, and appreciation of tradition. The rejection of these elements has created a void that has been filled by the customized spirituality that lacks biblical moorings. Obey and submit are not two words that find an easy place in our rebellious hearts. In a climate where we mistrust leadership…sometimes because they've disappointed us with their character or their direction…whether it be preachers or politicians….we become cynical of motives…and the cynicism brings about judgment and criticism.


I'm not going to say a great deal about those outside the church because that is not who the writer of Hebrews is dealing with in our text. Paul tells the Romans "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1).

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