Support Our Leaders: If a church leader makes a mistake, should we still support him or her? That is the question at the heart of our discussion today.
Questions to Discuss.
- The implications of full equality. In the story of James and John asking for top position is the kingdom (Matt. 20:20-28), Jesus articulates a doctrine of full equality for the church. In the light of his teaching about the church, what is the proper role of a leader? What is the responsibility of the group to call a leader to account?
- Coming to equality may take time. In Galatians 3:28, Paul expresses the clear ideal for those who follow Christ, i.e. all authority relationships are leveled in Christ: Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female. In the course of Christian history how long has it taken for each of those “subjugations” to be put right? Which ones are most troublesome in today’s world?
- Trying hard to get along. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul gives counsel to the believers on a variety of issues. His counsel regarding relationships with leaders is worth noting, especially as found in the Contemporary English version:
“My friends, we ask you to be thoughtful of your leaders who work hard and tell you how to live for the Lord. Show them great respect and love because of their work. Try to get along with each other.” (1 Thess. 5:12-13, CEV).
That fact that leaders may have to tell us what to do can be a source of anger or irritation. In light of that rebellious impulse in fallen human nature, should a leader avoid giving orders as much as possible?
- Imperfect leaders. Psalm 51 describes the crooked impulses of a penitent but still sinful heart, one belonging to a “leader.” What is the believer’s responsibility toward an erring leader, toward one who does not recognize his errors, toward one who recognizes his errors but refuses counsel, toward one who admits and confesses his wrong? Should the repentant leader continue to receive our support? Are their exceptions?
- Flawed leaders, flawed church? At what point should believers withdraw support from the church in light of the sins of its leaders? Or should the church always stand above its human components and thus escape criticism?