17 Obey your leaders. Put yourselves under their authority. They keep watch over you. They know they are accountable to God for everything they do. Obey them so that their work will be a joy. If you make their work a heavy load, it won’t do you any good. 18 Pray for us. We feel sure we have done what is right. We long to live as we should in every way. 19 I beg you to pray that I may return to you soon.
Having a healthy relationship between yourself and someone who is in a powerful position is easy – in theory! Here Paul outlines the simple 3 things we should all do for our leaders:
1) obey them
2) submit to them (without grumbles)
3) pray for them
In context here, Paul is almost certainly writing about how we are to relate to Godly leaders, but I don’t feel like that means that this is still an easy command.
For me, I have had quite a journey with my own ability to submit to leadership. As a teenager, I had a very low regard for authority and I believed that even Godly authority should only serve to guide and counsel rather than lead or instruct. I particularly disliked authoritarian figures and I often found myself plotting ways to undermine their power through humour.
Over time I have personally learned that I need to encourage myself to respect leaders and see their vision and perspective, and this helps me to be able to obey and submit.
Praying for our leaders is more of a habit or routine. For me It needs to be scheduled to make sure it happens.
Lord, help us to be better at joyfully and faithfully submitting to our leaders and obeying them. And God, help our leaders – especially help them to put up with me!
Written by Justin Ware