Respect for leadership is a concept that appears to be losing momentum in today’s world. The church is no exception. To that end, the author of Hebrews provides six very practical commands for Christians to consider regarding leaders in their faith community:
Remember the leaders who have preached the word of God faithfully in your life. It can be easy to forget how much time and effort goes into proclaiming the truth of the Bible in a clear and compelling fashion. Don’t take that for granted. Remember those leaders.
Carefully observe the way your leaders live. Pay close attention. What do you notice? What can be learned from their example?
Imitate the faith of the leaders in your community. We know from earlier in Hebrews that “faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” How do your leaders handle adversity? Doubt? What do they say or do, or how do they think, that is worthy of imitation?
Obey and submit to the wisdom and instruction your leaders provide. To obey means you comply with the wishes of another, while to submit means you yield to the will of another. The author of Hebrews reminds his readers that, as was the case with the high priests of old, the leaders in a Christian church community have been entrusted by God to care for the people.
Pray for your leaders. While there are, of course, exceptions (“don’t be led astray…”), your leaders generally really do want to live honorably and make wise decisions. Pray for them!
Sandwiched between these instructions about spiritual leadership is a review of some of the specific encouragements and warnings the author has already covered in his letter. He starts with the simple and powerful truth that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” exhorting his readers not to stray from their faith. He reminds his readers that the Jewish sacrificial practices of the old covenant have been replaced and made better because Jesus “suffered outside the gate” on our behalf. Finally, he celebrates the reality that for those who are followers of Jesus, all that is “required” is for us to call on the name of Jesus in praise.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Old Testament References
- Exodus 29:14
- Isaiah 62:6
- Micah 3:10
- 1 Timothy 5:1-2
- 1 Peter 5:1-14
- Titus 2:1-15
- Who are some Christian leaders you have carefully observed? What qualities have you been able to imitate?
- How do you respond when you hear the words “obey” and “submit” to your leaders? Why is it important for Christians to take these commands seriously?
- The author says we should not neglect the practice of “offering up to God a sacrifice of praise.” Is this a practice you’ve neglected? How can you be more active in praising God this week?
Find out the names of the pastors and other key leaders in your church community. Make a commitment to pray for them by name each day this week. Pray specifically for each person on your list to have a clear conscience, and to be able to conduct themselves honorably in everything they do. You might also send them a quick message, asking them how they specifically would like to be prayed for.
[expand title=”Life Group Questions”]
- Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Hebrews 13:7-25. What truths about God can be understood from these passages? What observations can be made about people? What questions come to mind?
- In what areas of your life do you serve as a leader? In what areas are you a follower?
- Who is a leader who has a faith you’d like to imitate? What specific qualities do you admire about that person?
- What kind of leader are you? What parts of your life would other people do well to imitate? Do you exhibit Godly conduct? Are you humble? Do you ask for prayer? How can you grow?
- What are some specific ways you can “greet the saints” this week? Who would you like to reach out to via text or phone call? What group of people would benefit from a virtual hangout?
- We’ve finished the book of Hebrews! What impact has our study of Hebrews had on your belief and on your faith? How has your perspective changed? How do you intend to think and act differently going forward?