The joy in the ministry
Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit. Hebrews 13:17 NLT
In a recent article from US News and World Report (USNews.com-May 7, 2021), it quoted the study conducted by the Barna Research Group about the growing number of pastors contemplating to quit the ministry exacerbated by the pandemic; “‘29% said they had given ‘real, serious consideration to quitting being in full-time ministry within the last year.’” One factor that causes this is the dwindling number in church attendance and volunteers. The writer of Hebrews provides an encouragement as to how to address if this problem in the church becomes persistent. He calls on the congregation to defer to their spiritual leaders for their “work is to watch over your souls.” The pastors referred to in this passage understand that their role is to be conscientious pertaining to the needs of the church members for they are “accountable to God.” There is a sense that the position the pastor has carries with it a higher responsibility. “Not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). Since everyone will give an account for the work that God entrusted to us, therefore we should not take lightly this responsibility. “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Christians will not be judged anymore for their salvation for there is no condemnation (see Romans 8:1) for those who were saved by grace because they had placed their faith in Christ (see Ephesians 2:8-9). But each one will give an account as to the quality of their work that should withstand the test of fire (see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). While everyone will face the judgment seat of Christ, church leaders will undergo a stricter accountability before God. This is why the congregation is admonished to help the leaders to have a reason doing their task “with joy and not with sorrow.” Christians are called upon to be discerning in what they hear when the Word of God is being expounded. They must never immediately accept that something is true just because the church leader says so. But when they find the teaching to be biblically sound, they must show respect. The ministry can lead to sorrow but the rewards can be enjoyable when members are cooperating with the leaders and are growing in their walk with the Lord. Paul expressed such joy for the church in Philippi for he saw how the believers are growing in their relationship with God and he refers to them as his “joy and the crown I receive for my work” (Philippians 4:1). When the congregation and the leaders are right with God, the church will move in the direction God had set for them to take.