Responsibilities of Ministers & Disciples
By Pastor J.D. Link
Heb 13:7, 17 says, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. … 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.”
Though all Christians are to be ministers (servants), we will use it in the traditional sense of the five-fold ministry (Eph 4:11); and though all Christians are to be disciples, we will use it to mean those Christians who are not called into the five-fold ministry. “Pastor and flock” may be substituted. God’s Word will be the basis of what these responsibilities are, and not pop culture or men’s tradition.
The five-fold ministry is a calling. It is God who chooses. Therefore, we should not desire it unless we are called, for they will receive the greater judgment (Jam 3:1). They must give an account (Heb 13:17). However, this does not relinquish the personal accountability to God that every person has (Rom 14:12, 2Cor 5:10-11).
Disciples are to be submitted to their ministers (Heb 13:17, 1Cor 16:15-16). This cannot be forced, but must be from the heart of the disciple. This ruling (Heb 13:7) is not to be a “lording over” by the minister, but rather to lead by example (1Pt 5:3). The disciple is to emulate the minister only to the degree they imitate Christ (1Cor 11:1). Christians are to esteem ministers very highly in love for their work’s sake (1Thess 5:12-13). Those who labor in the Word and doctrine are to be counted worthy of double honor (1Tim 5:17). They are to be held in reputation by the saints (Philp 2:29). Why?
The genuine minister (him actually called) is anointed and appointed by God to their position (Ezk 3:17). He is to say what God says. He is to blow the trumpet (Ezk 33:2-7). What the disciple does with it – they will give an account to God for. The Holy Spirit makes the minister an overseer, and they are to feed the flock of God the Word (Act 20:28, 1Pt 5:1-2). God commits the task of preaching to his ministers (Titus 1:3). They are allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel, and their business is only about pleasing God, and not man (1Thess 2:4, Gal 1:10-11, 2Tim 2:4).
This is important. Some disciples think it’s the minister’s job to please them. It is not. It is the minister’s job to please God through faithfully teaching His Word. This does not mean the minister goes out of his way to offend people, but that is not his concern. He cares about pleasing Jesus. Sometimes this requires a rebuke (Titus 2:15, 1Tim 5:20), but it is done in love, as Jesus Himself rebukes those He loves (Rev 3:19). To be offended or resist this is not to simply snub an earthly man. It is rebellion against God (1Sam 15:23). If the minister is just telling jokes or peddling his own philosophy, the disciple is under no obligation to listen. However, if the minister is preaching God’s Word, the disciple has every obligation to listen and obey.
Disciples are to humbly submit to the Word of God, as if it was God speaking to them, and not man (1Thess 2:13). If the minister is proclaiming God’s Word, then to reject the minister’s word is to reject God, and not the minister (1Sam 8:19, 7). By rejecting Samuel’s word, Israel rejected God’s Word – which God said was rejecting Him.
From the Scriptures we have referenced, we see the minister’s responsibility is to rule (oversee); admonish; to labor in the word and doctrine; to lead by example; to study; to be a watchman; to blow the trumpet; to feed the church of God; to speak, to exhort, to teach, to warn, to rebuke. They are also to pray (1Tim 2:1-4), and to mature the saints for the work of the ministry, so the body of Christ may be built up (Eph 4:11-15).
The disciple’s responsibility is to follow; to submit; to love, highly esteem, honor and hold in reputation the minister; to humbly receive correction; to receive the preaching of God’s Word as God speaking to them; to obey and not resist God’s Word – and to stay away from so-called Christians who do (2Th 3:14).
Like in the husband-wife relationship (Eph 5:22-33), we should be more concerned with fulfilling our God-given roles, than focusing on the other. If you’re a minister, be focused on doing what ministers are supposed to do; and if a disciple, be focused on doing what disciples are supposed to do. Then everyone ends up blessed – just like a marriage where the husband focuses on fulfilling his role, and the wife focuses on fulfilling hers. Selah.