If you're like me, then you love your pastors. If you're like me, you admire these men and respect them greatly for what they are doing and the walk they have with God.
But if you are like me, then there have been times you haven't liked what your pastors have asked of you. I can recall a few times in my youth group years when I was a new Christian that my pastor told me to throw away some of my CD's. (CD's are old things that people used to play music by the way) For a while, I disagreed and didn't listen and I held onto my Eminem and Insane Clown Posse CD's.
Back then, I also remember reading this verse (no my pastors didn't throw this verse at me, I read it on my own). I remember realizing that my pastors were going to have to stand before God one day and give an account for my life. They wanted to be able to tell God they did everything they could to help me grow and guard me from sin and temptation. Back then, for that reason, I remember eventually throwing out those CD's, having that meeting, and submitting in other areas as well. But I do remember that at first, I put up a fight on a number of occasions.
Before I was a pastor, this verse was a little annoying. It meant I needed to obey my pastors even when I didn't want to and even when I might have disagreed a bit.
Now that I'm a pastor, this verse is scary. This verse is a threat to me. It reminds me that one day, God is going to call me before him and ask me to give an account for all of the people he placed under my care.
As a pastor, there are warning signs and things I see in some of my students that I pick up on. I may notice they are watching vulgar shows, listening to bad music, dating a non-Christian, or whatever. When I see these things, I have two choices. I can choose to do nothing about them because I don't want to be annoying and tell them to stop doing something. Or I can talk to them, warn them, and ask them to stop that behavior. Either way, I will have to stand before God and give an account for my choice in those moments. I am scared to even think of what it would be like to tell God that I didn't act on the warning signs I saw because I didn't want to be the "bad guy" who told someone to stop doing something.
As a pastor, I am deeply encouraged when I warn a student about something they are doing and they flat out obey and heed the warning. And I am deeply grieved when a student has an attitude that completely disregards my advice without a care and continues to play with fire. I am grieved because I am worried for both them and myself when I give an account for them.
Let me be honest with you. There were times when I was younger when my pastors told me to do things or give up things that I still to this day don't think were necessary. I was told not to play certain video games because they contained a demon bad guy and good guys using magic. But you know what? Most of the times my pastors were right. Most of the time, their advice and warnings were crucial to my growth as a Christian and I am grateful I listened to them. For the times when they were perhaps wrong, I really don't miss the little bit of freedom I gave up in order to stay far from danger and ease my pastor's concern for me.
Now, as a pastor, I long for my students to have that same kind of understanding. When I give them advice or warn them about things, I am doing so out of concern for them. I'm not trying to rob them of joy or fun but help them follow Christ wholeheartedly with minimal bumps along the way.
So think of some good advice your pastors have given you in the past that you are glad you took or regret that you didn't take. Think hard about the things your pastors are warning you about now or asking you to change. If you disagree with them, have a serious talk with them. In light of this verse, are you willing to obey God and listen to your pastors? Even if it costs some of your freedom? Even if you disagree? If you were in their position, how would you want yourself to respond? Are you a joy to them or a source of groaning?