What Scripture Says About Honoring Our Leaders

As worship vocalists, it’s imperative that we walk in honor toward our leaders. Hebrews 13:17 says to “Obey your [spiritual] leaders and submit to them [recognizing their authority over you], for they are keeping watch over your souls and continually guarding your spiritual welfare as those who will give an account [of their stewardship of you]. Let them do this with joy and not with grief and groans, for this would be of no benefit to you” (AMP).

For many years serving on my worship team, I know I brought my leaders “grief and groans.” I was unsubmissive, I grumbled and complained behind their backs (and to their faces), I had an edge in the way I communicated, I had many opinions and wanted things done my way… you get the picture. 

Could they have led better? Sure. Did they always do everything right? No. 

But was it my place to judge? Did I have a right to complain? To speak to them with disrespect? To gossip and slander them to other team members? Absolutely not. 

In fact, the Bible teaches us to do exactly the opposite. 

Philippians 2:14-15 says to “Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (NASB).

In 1 Thessalonians 5:12, we’re told to “honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance” (NLT).

No one showed honor more than Jesus. In His life on earth, He was constantly submitted to His Father, desiring to please Him and bring glory to Him. Listen to some of these statements Jesus made: 

  • “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28 NKJV).
  • “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28 NKJV).
  • “I always do those things that please Him” (John 8:29 NKJV).
  • “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me” (John 6:38 NKJV).
  • “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49 NKJV).

When it comes to walking in honor, Jesus is our model. 

Jesus is the ultimate example of obedience, servanthood and humility.

And we are to follow His example! We know from Romans 8:29 that God’s plan for us is to be “conformed to the image of his Son” (NKJV),and in 2 Corinthians 3:18 it says that as we behold the glory of the Lord, we are “being changed into His likeness” (RSV).

It’s a high bar, but it is truly God’s ultimate plan for you: that you model your life after His Son.

Do you think obedience and submission was always easy for Jesus? No! He was fully God, but He was also FULLY man. He was 100% deity, and 100% human. (We don’t have to understand it—this is part of the mystery of God—but it is true!) 

Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (NASB).

Just let that sink in—Jesus can sympathize with every temptation and weakness that we feel, because He wrestled with the same things that we do. And yet, He did not sin, and it wasn’t because He was God… it was because—as a human—He relied completely, in every single moment, on the power of the Spirit of God on the inside of Him. 

There are so many areas of our life that we need the power of the Spirit to overcome sin. But as worship vocalists, I want to draw attention to this specific area that is of UTMOST importance as you serve in a ministry capacity: honor.

Choosing to honor the leaders God has placed in your life will dramatically impact your success as a worship leader. Please don’t get me wrong here—I certainly do not mean “success” in the way the world defines it (more opportunities, bigger stages, etc.)—what I mean is that in order for God to accomplish His kingdom purposes in and through your life, you must learn to honor. 

In order for you to have longevity in ministry, you must learn to submit yourself under authority. You must learn to walk free from offence and unforgiveness. 

Did you know that sin blocks our prayer life? Isaiah 59:2 says that “your wrongdoings have caused a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (NASB), and in Psalm 66:18 we read that “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (NKJV). In the Amplified version it says, “If I regard sin and baseness in my heart [that is, if I know it is there and do nothing about it], The Lord will not hear [me].”

This is sobering—oh Lord we want Your ears to be open to us! Let us not fall into the trap of sin! 

When we dishonor our worship leader or pastor in any way, big or small (by disobeying them, judging them, talking back to them, complaining to them or about them, carrying offence, thinking we could do things better, etc.), we are walking in sin. We are disobeying the Word of God. We are not acting Christ-like. 

As worship leaders (if you serve in a worship ministry, no matter your role—you’re a worship leader!), our private lives matter. Our character matters. We have a high bar of responsibility to walk in holiness and unity. So if you think a little “attitude” when it comes to how you think about your leader isn’t a big deal, think again. The ramifications of dishonor won’t stop with you—your worship team and your congregation will be negatively impacted by it. 

But when we do choose honor… oh the joy! The unity! The glory! The move of the Spirit that is poured out! 

Choosing to submit to and honor our leaders is certainly not always easy—“small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life”—but it is absolutely so worth it. 

Friends, there is so much mercy and grace for this. If you know you have walked in dishonor, take a moment now and repent to the Lord for how you have acted. Ask the Holy Spirit if there are people you need to apologize to. Make things right. 

Cheering you on today as you pursue the prize of the upward call of Christ Jesus—as you commit to a life of being transformed into His likeness… humble, lowly, obedient, gentle, meek.

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    1. Hi Charmaine,
      Just wanted to say thanks for a very thought provoking blog, you certainly don’t pick the easy stuff to write about and that’s fantastic! Where do you sit on following leaders when they’re wrong? My first thought was that Martin Luther would then be in sin and then I’d have to convert to Catholic (which is a bit cheeky… no offence meant)!

      1. Hey! It’s a good question! What I’m talking about here is honoring the leaders that God has placed us under in a specific season. Lead pastors, worship pastors, etc. We don’t need to follow every leader in the world, although respect and honor is still due to keep unity in the body of Christ. Even when we don’t agree, there’s no place for slandering others! That sort of thing is rampant online these days, and I am not in agreement with it at all.

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