Being a Faithful Steward in the Church
Published on March 02, 2024

As Robert thought through the situation with his Pastor, he remembered his childhood, and how his father had taught him to honor the church leadership.  “They watch for your soul” his father would say.  “They will have to give account to God for what goes on in this church”, he often added.  Robert thought about this Bible verse to which his father had alluded so often.  He silently recited it to himself from memory:

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”          

-Hebrews 13:17

As if the passage in Hebrews wasn’t enough, there was another one Dad used to quote.  “Where was that one…?”, he wondered as he reached for his Bible.  He couldn’t remember it exactly, but he knew it was around the middle of the left side of the page, marked with an asterisk…  right about…  here it is!  He was excited about his discovery as he re-read the familiar words:

“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”

-1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

It was interesting the verse ended with, “Be at peace…”.  Things had not been peaceful lately with regard to his church.  Robert knew he was supposed to submit to church leadership as those that must give account…  He knew his church leaders have a huge responsibility, and he knew he should recognize that responsibility with obedience and submission, and love…  However, his father was gone now, and Robert was leading his own family and teaching them these same truths.  But he was starting to have questions… 

You see, lately, things had not been the same at their church.  Their new Pastor was very concerned about things – but not the same things that had always been important in the past.  For a while now, the Pastor had been putting an unfamiliar slant on familiar Bible passages.  In fact, he was using the Bible less and less often, and when he did open it, he was using partial verses out of context to speak in support of all kinds of things Robert knew were just not right.  This was becoming a recurring problem.  Robert was spending the time in his drive home from church each week to correct the fallacies of the sermons to his children and explain what the verses quoted actually meant in their proper context.

Robert had brought his concerns to the Pastor, but he was surprised at the response, “We are reaching lots of new people and allowing the church to become more relevant in our town.  If we were to draw hard lines on some of the Bible passages, people in today’s culture would be offended.”  Robert then went to the other leaders of the church who only raved about the new direction of the church and added that the church had even picked up a couple new donors that were making a big difference…  “Just wait till the next budget meeting – you will see!  Things are looking great!” 

“But does all that even matter if we are no longer sharing the truth of God’s Word?”, Robert wondered to himself…  Are there limits to the verses that tell us to submit to church leadership? 


If you have been involved with churches, you have likely experienced some of the hypothetical things that our fictional character Robert is going through in this fictional church.  But the question at which Robert arrives is not hypothetical, and it is not fictional. 

Does God place limits on the authority of those He places in roles of responsibility?  We know God defines roles for authorities, and in our article, “What King Uzziah can Teach us About Jurisdictions”, we saw that there are lines even an Old Testament King was not to cross.  The Pastors of some of the best churches I have been part of would often say things like, “If I start preaching heresy, y’all kick me out of here!”

In the Scriptures, notably in the books of 1 Timothy and Titus, there are significant lists of specific qualifications for those serving in church leadership.  Certainly, when choosing a new Pastor, churches reference passages like these.  But what if they are already serving in the position, and then start breaking the qualifications?  Are we to continue to simply submit to their false teaching?  

I think the answer to that question is a resounding “no”.  I think we will find that God does not grant unchecked power and authority to men.  They are not granted the freedom to define their own message.  They are God’s ministers, and must be faithful to the message God gives them to take to the people.  When the Apostle Paul discusses his own being accountable in his role as Apostle, he says:

“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”    

 -1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Paul refers to himself as a steward, not a master.  God is the master, and the “mysteries of God” that Paul is unlocking to the people, the things Paul is sharing, are things of God.  He does not have his own truths, or his own agenda.  It is Paul’s job to be a faithful steward of the things of God.  The same is true of our church leaders today.  If they depart from the teachings of God, and head out with their own message, they are no longer performing the role of steward, and they no longer enjoy legitimacy in that position. 

In this article, we have seen a fictional example of how things could go wrong in church jurisdiction.  In the next two articles, we will look at jurisdictions of family, and civil government.  I think it will be clear that God limits power and jurisdiction of the men He places in positions of responsibility.  Indeed, we will find the Apostle’s words will hold true in all earthly jurisdictions, “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” 

Why Jurisdictions Matter

Being a Faithful Steward within the Family

Being a Faithful Steward in Civil Government


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