Sadly, few who are in leadership positions in our churches actually lead our churches. Spurgeon noted in his Lectures to My Students that the pulpit is often called “Coward’s Castle.” This is true. Yet, with a false sense of humility, many pastors hesitate to lead from the pulpit. Part of the problem is giving in to the culture’s hatred and hesitancy of authority figures, especially in the church. Part of the problem too is that pastors need to show the same type of leadership and personality in the pulpit as well as outside of it.
In an age where prevalent and influential preachers reject the mantle of “preaching the word” as a herald and would rather have a conversation with the congregants as a way to connect, we can see why the church has turned into a wishy-washy institution with little power but a whole lot of opinion and conjecture.
The commentator John Jason Owen elaborates:
Teaching is a part of the duty of the herald of salvation. Not only are men to be taught the way of salvation, and thus be brought to Christ, but also after conversion, they are to be instructed in the duties and obligations of the gospel, and prepared for usefulness on earth, and the enjoyment of Christ in heaven.
What are these pastors to do with Hebrews 13:17 when the writer urges the Jewish Christians to:
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.
Obey? Submit? Yes! God has established authority in the church for the good of our souls. Pastors, you are going to have to give an account for your souls. So does the Apostle Paul tell Timothy, “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2)! That’s a command — an imperative! They follow you as their leader not due to your leadership abilities, but based on what we see in Hebrews 13:7:
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
Pastors must (1) speak the Word of God through teaching and preaching, (2) live out what they preach. At our church, we remind each other that “Monday through Saturday counts just as much as Sunday.” That’s not just a slogan passed down from the preacher to the parishioners. Preachers need to heed this as well.
Lead, pastors! Lead! Study! Pray! Praise! Thank! Compel! Motivate! Urge! Plead! Implore! Exhort! Rebuke! Challenge! Love! Model! Live it! Just read the pastoral epistles and see! Don’t shy away! Spurgeon says again in his Lectures:
The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, and therefore you can leave the word of God to wound and kill, and need not be yourselves cutting in phrase and manner. God’s truth is searching: leave it to search the hearts of men without offensive additions from yourself.
Trust Christ! Trust His Word! Jesus is enough to provide the strength and courage to do so.