Salvation is free. Discipleship costs. Leadership costs a lot more. Praise God, Jesus has freely provided all we need to be saved from our sins. Yet, He warns us that once we become His disciples, we immediately become targets of Satan’s attacks. If God calls us as leaders, we will find ourselves in Satan’s crosshairs.
Why? Because Satan knows that God uses leaders. He knows leadership works. He also knows that if he “strikes the shepherd, the sheep will be scattered.” He knows command, control, and success are always compromised if leaders meet their demise or can be distracted or disabled. The Scriptures warn us incessantly of Satan’s attacks on leaders, and church history abounds with illustrations of his work.
Leaders who are under assault need to be encouraged. One of the ways our Lord encourages leaders is through principled followers. Good leadership can be encouraged, enhanced, and stabilized through good “followership.” Good followership, like good leadership, is defined by biblical precepts and empowered by a Spirit-led life. The writer of Hebrews provides two texts that, if embraced, will not only allow followers to profit from leaders but will also allow leaders to profit from them. The first is 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.” It contains three followership principles that empower both follower and leader.
Remember Your Leaders
The imperative “remember” in Scripture is designed to promote something far beyond historical accuracy in recalling factual data (“remember the body and blood of Jesus”; “remember the Sabbath”; “remember the Lord’s deeds”). To “remember” biblically is to hold in esteem with demonstrated respect and appropriate honor.
The ordained leadership within the church, while never the object of adoration or worship, should always be treated with honor and respect in light of the glorious truth that not only the position of leadership but the leaders themselves are Christ’s gift to the church (Eph. 4). They have weaknesses and inadequacies and are sinners saved by grace, but they have been gifted with gospel progress and called by the Lord to sacrificial servant leadership. Thus, for God’s glory leaders are to be “remembered” with honor and respect, which not only exalts the Lord but encourages them.
Consider Their Way of Life
It is obvious that the text does not assume perfection in the lifestyle of a leader, but it does assume gospel progress, which should be reflected upon by followers. This, in and of itself, is an encouragement for leaders to know that those whom they lead are evaluating their lives not as critics, but as learners.