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  Bible Question: Submission can be quite a thorny issue at times. What is the biblical perspective on submission vs godly leadership? I know that we are required to submit to those in authority - to our husbands, church leaders, leaders of countries etc. What happens when the leader (especially a church leader) stands over you with a whip and causes you to become so fearful of not submitting that any form of questioning is seen as an act of rebellion and not submission. What should a Christian do if a church leader says "I submit to God and therefore you should submit to me?" How far should your submission go? Do you allow yourself to be bullied into doing things that you would normally question? What does submission really mean?
Bible Answer: God calls Christians to submit to their church leadership who are assumed to be spiritual leaders fulfilling their biblical responsibilities. That is why He gave us qualifications to use as guidelines for selecting church leaders in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 and why He told us what these leaders should be doing.
     Working Hard. They have two primary responsibilities according to 1 Timothy 5:17,
  Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. (NASB) 1 Timothy 5:17
They are to "work hard at preaching and teaching" and they are to "rule well." The Greek word for "work hard" has the idea of agonizing in their study of God's Word and their preparation for teaching and preaching. Pastors and leaders who have little depth in their message or come unprepared are guilty of not "working hard" and, even worse, they are not spiritually growing as a result of not being in the Word very much. Many pastors will admit they start preparing Saturday night for the Sunday morning sermon and due to experience, their Sunday morning messages appear good. God says the one who works hard, the one who agonizes, the one who grows tired in the study of the Word is the one who should be honored!
     Ruling Well. The second major responsibility of church leaders is to "rule well." The word literally means ‘standing before.’ It has the idea of someone being in charge. In Hebrews 13:17 the Greek words for "obey" and "submit" have the idea of "to be persuaded" and “yield, give way, or submit to someone’s authority.”
  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. (NASB) Hebrews 13:17
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. (NASB) Hebrews 13:7
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