Why Obey?

Paul in the New Testament  would not use his position as an apostle in order to get people to obey him or support him financially.  Paul knew that his work was bigger than anything he as a human could enforce.  Paul wanted people to choose God on their own.  We see this example in his letter to Philemon with Onesimus.  Paul stated clearly that he could charge Philemon with a duty, but instead, he says “I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.”[1]  Paul pleaded with Philemon that he would do the right thing, but did not command him.  Our charge of leadership is the same as pastors.

We can command if we choose, but that type of obedience is likely to be shortsighted.  Commands that are obeyed are often done out of fear.  Requests that are honored are often done out of love and trust.  I think of this issue in one other area and that is at home.  I have children and I want them to obey, because after all one of the requirements of a pastor is that he has obedient children.[2]  The mistake that we make as leaders in our home is the same mistake that we can make as leaders in our church or in our Bible study or in any area of life where we are tasked with leading individuals—obedience without question.

For people to want to obey they must understand why they are obeying.  This is why Paul pleads with people and explains himself to people.  He does not arrogantly say to “do what I say because I said so”.  His humility shows us that our number one goal is not to be obeyed, but to win people over so they want to follow us—so they trust us.  Trust will make someone be there for you even when you don’t ask.

[1] Philemon 1:14 (ESV)

[2] 1 Tim. 3:4

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