bq. Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
p. God gives leaders to the church as shepherds, men who are supposed to “keep watch over [our] souls”. Not all elders are going to be good elders (see 3 John, for example). No elder will be perfect. Hopefully, a plurality of elders will provide enough balance that the whole church will stay on track.
Do you trust your elders? Do you think they are godly men? Do you think they regularly seek God’s will and are able to discern His voice? Do you think they are wise?
These are the guys you trust to preach and teach you and your family. They spend the money you donate. They choose lay leadership. They help put together the programs, classes, groups, etc., that you probably participate in. They make all kinds of decisions that probably have a direct impact on your spiritual life. _You better trust them._ You better think they are godly, and wise, and discerning.
If you don’t trust your elders – if you think they are so spiritually dull that they can’t tell if an idea is “straight from Hell” or not – well, you need to find a group you can trust. That probably means changing churches. But if you think they are _that_ susceptible to Satan’s wily schemes, that they will make the wrong decision when things get tough, you really shouldn’t trust them to watch over your soul. You need to find someone else.
I don’t mean to communicate a “love it or leave it” attitude. It’s certainly OK to disagree with your elders and give them feedback or input (assuming you do it appropriately). I certainly have. It’s not a question of _agreement_. It’s a question of _trust_. Do you trust them to make godly decisions, or at a minimum, not to make thoroughly satanic decisions?
If you do trust them, then trust them especially when things look scary. But if you think the only reason they haven’t gone astray is that they’ve lacked the opportunity, you probably need to leave. Because it’s not like the church lacks opportunities to go astray. And many of those opportunities are very subtle. _If you don’t think the watchman will see the full frontal assault, how do you expect him to warn of the sneak attacks?_
Our elders need our prayers, our support, our encouragement, and our submissive obedience – _particularly_ when they are making tough decisions. If you don’t trust them enough to submit even though you think they are making a bad decision, _you need to find someone you can trust that much_. I don’t know if there is a nice way to say that, but I really don’t mean it harshly.
What they _don’t_ need is for us to give them grief. Opinions, hopes, worries, questions, fears, doubts – great. But not grief.
I know that the individual decisions the elders will face are not always clearly black and white. But the question of whether or not we trust them _is_ black and white. Your church leadership should be men you trust. You should trust your elders.
Jesus said we will know people by their fruits. Good tree, good fruit. Bad tree, bad fruit. If you think the tree is good, then eat the fruit. But if you think the fruit is _that_ bad, then the whole tree must be bad to, and you shouldn’t eat _any_ of its fruit.
[Obviously we shouldn’t follow our leaders into sin. And I’m not suggesting some kind of cult-like obedience here. I figured that was obvious but I didn’t want a dozen comments alluding to Jim Jones or David Koresh.]