Treatment of Followers

by Pastor Jack Hyles

(Chapter 6 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, How to Treat Different Types of Church members)

Ephesians 6:5-9, "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him."

Ruth 2:4, "And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee."

In the New Testament there are three titles given for the main position in a New Testament church. One is the title of pastor; another is the title of elder; another is the title of bishop. All three of these titles represent the same position.

I Peter 5:14, "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."

You will notice in these verses, all three of these titles are mentioned. They all deal with the same office. Each of these titles represents a unique treatment that the leader is to give to his followers. For example, the title of elder represents experience and wisdom. The leader is to give to the follower access to his wisdom. This could come through preaching, teaching, counseling, etc.

Now consider the title of pastor. This is another word for shepherd. The leader of the church is to give his followers the protection that a shepherd gives to the sheep. He is to warn the followers of things that would harm them even as the shepherd did to the sheep, and he is to stand vigil over them to keep these things from doing them harm.

The third title is that of bishop. This word means overseer. This means the pastor is the overseer of the follower. For the good of the follower, the pastor is to oversee all of the work of the church and be sure that it is done properly and that the follower may have the kind of church that he needs in order that he may be all that God wants him to be.

Much is said about the way the follower should treat the leader, and this is right. Not enough is said concerning the way the leader should treat the follower. Oh, yes, the follower is taught to obey his spiritual leader. Hebrews 13:7, "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." He is likewise taught to submit himself to his spiritual leader. Hebrews 13:17, "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." These are words that include having faith in, yielding to, giving in, following, etc. There are other places in the Bible that remind us that God's people are to follow the pastors.

Then there are Scriptures that remind the pastors regarding their treatment of other pastors. The New Testament church had a multiplicity of pastors. Each church would have several pastors, just as is the case in the First Baptist Church of Hammond. There is a certain way that these pastors are to treat each other. I Timothy 1:1-2, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord." I Timothy 5:17, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." Read these verses carefully. Paul is writing to one elder, or pastor, Timothy He is telling him how to treat other elders or pastors. In I Timothy 5:19 he reminds him that he is not to believe an accusation without witnesses. He reminds him of the respect and honor that he is to give to other pastors. Many pastors preach and teach from these passages in an effort to teach their people how to treat the preacher. I do not think in so doing they do an injustice to the Scriptures. I do believe, however, that the pastor should pause to realize that the primary teaching of this verse deals with the way pastors should treat each other, not only pastors within the same church, but pastors of churches within the same community, state, nation, world, etc.

Concerning this subject, I always defend the pastor. When I hear something negative about a man of God, I do not believe it! When there is a battle between a pastor and laymen, I defend the pastor! I am not always right in this, but I am right more times than wrong, and I'm right more times than if I use my own judgment and intuition. It has been my policy through the years to defend God's man and God's men. Sometimes I have been proven wrong, but I have never been sorry for the policy.

I will not counsel or give an appointment to a member of another area fundamental church without a written note from the pastor of that church requesting that I counsel with his member.

I will not visit nor allow my staff or members to visit the home of the member of another fundamental church in the area. This is true even if this person brings his family to visit our services. This is also true even if he checks the little square at the bottom of the visitor's card, signifying that he is interested in joining First Baptist Church of Hammond. I am for God's men! I know they are not perfect, but I believe the finest group of men in the world is that group which composes God's men. I am glad that it is still news when one goes bad. This means that most do not!

Not only does God admonish us concerning the way the follower should treat the pastor and the way the pastors should treat each other, but it admonishes us concerning the way the pastor should treat the followers, or for that matter, the way any leader should treat any follower.

1. The leader should give the same loyalty to the follower that he expects from the follower.  Much is said about loyalty from the bottom up. More should be said about loyalty from the top down. Oftentimes leaders come to me expressing their dismay and disdain because of disloyal followers. Loyalty, however, is a two-way street and should go from the leader to the follower as well as from the follower to the leader. This chapter is being written at the time of the Congressional hearings and the questioning of Colonel North, Admiral Poindexter, Mr. McFarland and others. I will not attempt to go into the pros and cons or to be provocative concerning these hearings, but concerning the matter of loyalty, I have been very impressed with the loyalty to each other by the men being questioned. Subordinates have appeared to be extremely loyal to leaders, and superiors have been extremely loyal, in my opinion, to subordinates. This is the way it should be.

2. Leaders should accept followers as equals. A man is not necessarily a leader because he is superior to someone else. A man is not necessarily a follower because he is inferior to another. The art of following is just as great as the art of leading, and a leader who expects loyal followers should be a loyal leader and should stand by his followers in the same manner that he expects his followers to stand by him. The leader should certainly not look down from a pedestal to the follower, and he should respect the art of following as much as the follower respects the art of leading.

All of us are leaders and all of us are followers. This is as it should be. To be a good leader, one must be in some area of life a follower so he can know the heartbeat of the follower. To be a good follower, one must be in some area of life a leader so he can know the heartbeat of the leader. A man may be a leader at home, as he heads his family, and then a follower at work; or a man may be a leader at work and a follower at church, or a man may be a leader at work and a follower at work. Perhaps he is a foreman who has a superintendent for whom he works and laborers who work for him.

I have a wonderful man who works with me named Randy Ericson. Randy is in charge of the maintenance of the many buildings at First Baptist Church. He has several custodians who work for him, and Randy in turn works for me. When we come to church, I am the leader and Randy is the follower. When he takes me down to the boiler room to look at a problem in the heating system, he is the leader and I am the follower. There is no place in any organization for big shots and little shots. Everybody is important. All of us should look at the rest of us as equals.

3. Each of us should purposely be followers in some area. There is hardly a week that passes without my receiving a call from some pastor concerning trouble in his church. It is almost always the same trouble. Somebody in the church who is a leader everywhere else he goes wants to run the church and take the pastor's position. Here is a man who owns a business, is president of a civic club, a leader in politics, who comes to church. It is difficult for him to follow, but it is good for him to do so, because obedience is a quality that gives one the right to be a master. Luke 15:25-32, "Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found." This is the story about the brother of the prodigal son. This is the brother who stayed at home and worked for his father. Notice the two things that the son said in verse 29. What a wonderful pair of statements! Now notice later on in verse 31 the father says, "Son, all that I have is thine." Note that the father said to the son that everything he had was his. How did the son get this mastery over his father? He got it because he said, "Neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment." He said, "Dad, I never disobeyed you." His dad said, "Then all that I have is yours." Obedience is the way to mastery. Obedience causes the one who is the servant to be the master over the one who is the served and makes the master a servant to the servant.

Obedience is the key that unlocks the door to authority For example, I am now driving a car through the mountains of northern California. I got in the car and the car said to me, "Obey me. Put the key in the place prepared for it and turn the key to the right. If you will obey me, I will let you master me." Now I could have said to the car, "Nobody is going to tell me what to do. I don't believe in obedience." The car would have said to me, "Then you will never master me, for the way to master me is to obey me. You put the key where I say to put it and twist it like I say to twist it, and you may have me as your servant." I did this in obedience to the command of the car. Immediately I became master of the car. I am driving it now. I am turning to the right a little bit. I decide which way the car turns. I can play the radio if I want to. I can turn it down; I can turn it up; I can turn it on; I can turn it off. I can turn it to any station that I choose. I can turn on the air conditioning. I can set it where I want to set it, or I can turn it off, or I can turn on the heater if I choose. I can turn on the outside lights, the inside lights, the parking lights, the flashing lights and do as I will. I can make the car go faster or slower, or I can stop it. I can turn it to the right or I can turn it to the left. How did I get this command over the car? By obeying. Obedience is the way to mastery.

A wall socket in the house says to me, "Obey me, and I will serve you." I say to the wall socket, "Nobody is going to tell me what to do." The wall socket says, "'Then I will not give you my power." I finally decide to yield and obey the wall socket. When I do so, it will play a radio for me; it will operate an electric shaver, waffle iron, television, iron, washing machine, dishwasher, or whatever I decide. All I have to do is obey the wall socket, and then I become its master. Obedience is not the bad word that our generation has made it. It is the way to mastery, not the way to slavery.

Read. Psalm 1:1-3, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

God gives us five things here that will make Him a servant to us. He says if we walk not in the counsel of the ungodly and do not stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful but delight in the law of the Lord and meditate therein day and night, He will see to it that we prosper. He says, "You do these five things in obedience to Me, and I will obey you."

II Chronicles 7:14, "If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

God says to us that if His people, called by His name, will humble themselves, pray, seek His face, turn from their wicked ways, that He will hear from Heaven, forgive their sins. He says, "If you will obey Me, I'll obey you. The way to mastery over Me is to obey Me."

John 15:7, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."

God says to us, "Abide in Me; let My words abide in you. Then I will obey you. Ask what ye will." God reminds us, "Command ye Me."

Psalm 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."

God says, "Delight yourself in Me, and I'll give you the desires of your heart." Ah, what a blessed, blessed truth! Obedience is the way to mastery. Followship is the way to leadership, and no one should lead who hasn't followed; no one will lead successfully who has not followed; and no one can be a master until he has obeyed.

Matthew 28:19, 20, "GO ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world. Amen." Notice the words in verse 18, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." This is followed by a command, "Go, teach, baptize, and teach others."' These commands are followed by a promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."' What a blessed truth! He goes back to that "all power" before the commands. He says, "All power is given unto Me. I will give you that power and give you the right to have that power if you will obey Me. In other words, you obey Me, and you can be the master." Obedience is the way to mastery.

The earth says to the tree, "Obey me. Place in me your roots, and all of my wealth will come to your growth." The teacher says to the student, "Obey me, and all of my knowledge will be at your disposal." The parent says to the child, "Obey me, and all that I have can be yours," such as is seen in the story of the prodigal son's brother in Luke 15.

4. The leader should try to learn the needs of each follower. Bear in mind that the leader has access to powers not accessible to the follower. These powers should be used in order to help the follower, so the leader should be very sensitive to the follower's needs.

5. The leader should try to meet the needs of each follower. What a blessed truth! Since the leader has the wherewithal that the follower often does not have, and since the leader is supposed to have discernment concerning the needs of the follower, he then should use that wherewithal to satisfy the needs that are known by his discernment.

6. The leader should get ideas from the follower. My definition of leadership perhaps is oversimplified, but here it is: A leader is one who goes to all of his followers to learn from them; he compiles a list of all he has learned and gives each follower a copy As has been said, preaching is pouring back to the congregation in a flood what the congregation sends to the preacher in a vapor. Leading is collecting the knowledge of the followers and making each follower aware of the knowledge of all the rest.

I travel every week. I go to every part of the country. I learn everywhere I go, and then I take what I learn from each part of the country and try to teach those who look to me in some way as a leader.

7. The leader should give strength to the follower. This is much the same as the preaching. Each follower gives a little strength to the leader, making him stronger. The leader then uses this strength received from the followers to give strength and security to the followers who made him strong.

8. The leader should be a servant of the follower. Did not the Master say that the servant is greatest of all? The way that we become leaders and have the right to be leaders is by serving. In so serving he convinces his followers of his sincerity, concern, willingness and ability to lead. Coerced followship is dictatorship. Earned followship is leadership.

Earlier in this chapter mention was made about loyalty. Loyalty is one of the most misunderstood traits and graces. In concluding this chapter, I would like for you to consider the following about loyalty.

Loyalty is not the absence of disloyalty. It is a positive trait, not the absence of a negative one. In other word, a person is not necessarily loyal because he is not disloyal. There is some ground between loyalty and disloyalty. Perhaps we could say there is loyalty, aloyalty and disloyalty. Disloyalty criticizes, aloyalty is silent, but loyalty defends! Both loyalty and disloyalty are vocal. Aloyalty is silent. Loyalty never allows one word of criticism about the leader. It is complete defense and support. It not only never says, "Did you hear about . . . ?" but also it does not listen to, "Did you hear about ?" It does not participate in criticism with the tongue or the ear. It does not give itself the satisfaction of criticizing nor does it give a sympathetic ear which gives others the satisfaction of criticizing.

Everyone cannot be talented; everyone can be loyal. Loyalty is one trait that is attainable by all. Disloyalty is the one trait that is not excusable! It is the unpardonable sin! It is the most detestable and deplorable trait that a follower can have. It has caused heartbreak to many leaders. It has caused heartbreak to more followers. It has ruined the reputation of many leaders. It has ruined the character of many followers. To those who possess disloyalty, it has become a terminal cancer and professional suicide.

Loyalty is the complete support and defense of a leader. There are several reasons why it should be given.

1. Respect for the work.  A few days ago I received a call from a pastor whose church operates a grade school and a high school. This pastor told me a sad story about his principal becoming disloyal. He had gone from class to class announcing his resignation and giving the reasons why he was leaving.

Many years ago this pastor bought some property and began a church. He cleared off the property with his own hands and with blood, sweat and toil. Over many years he had seen the church, under his leadership, grow to a membership of several thousand, while the school had grown to an enrollment of several hundred. The pastor then employed this principal. The pastor gave to the principal the buildings which he had helped to build with his own hands, pupils whom he had won to Christ, supplies and equipment purchased with money that he had raised and much of which he had sacrificially given. Hence, the principal assumed responsibility over children whom he had not won in buildings he had not built using equipment he had not purchased. He had no moral right to damage the work on the altar of his own hurt feelings. If and when he felt he could no longer work happily in the situation, he should have courteously resigned and never offered or listened to any criticism of the pastor.

2. Respect for success. When one is a follower to a successful leader, the very success of that leader should command loyalty. For example, I am on the board of the SWORD OF THE LORD, a weekly publication edited by Dr. Curtis Hutson. I have been on this board for many years. Now suppose that I disagree with Dr. Hutson on some issue. I feel and have always felt that as a member of the board I should prefer his feelings above my own. I have never edited a newspaper; he has been an editor for many years. His success measured by the one third of a million subscribers, or by almost any other criterion, should lead the wise follower to have complete confidence in the wisdom of the leader.

It is amazing how that in this revolutionary generation young people who have never built a chicken coop rebel against master builders, who have never led a squad think they can lead an army, who have never had a savings account think they can run a bank, and who have never been a dog catcher think they can improve the presidency, have absolutely no respect for success!

At this writing I know of a young man who has just assumed the responsibility of becoming principal of a school operated by a church and led by a pastor who founded the school, was its first principal and has overseen the work for years. This young man who is fresh out of college feels that the diploma he holds in his hands has given him the right and equipment to know more about Christian education than this pastor of many years' experience. He is manifesting a disloyalty which is disgraceful. Someone in school should have taught him "Loyalty 13:1, "and if for no other reason, this loyalty should be manifested because of respect for the success of the pastor. He should be seeking the pastor's counsel instead of shunning it. He should be asking for the pastor's counsel instead of abhorring it.

3. Respect for knowledge.  There are some things that the leader knows that no one else can know. This not only pertains to facts, talent, etc., but it also pertains to knowledge of people and circumstances which he, for obvious reasons, cannot divulge to the followers. In other words, the follower does not always have all of the facts. There are some things that only a leader can know. Hence, it may appear to the follower that the leader is taking a wrong course of action, causing the follower to oppose him vehemently However, if the follower knew the facts that the leader cannot divulge to him, he would no doubt arrive at the same conclusion to which the leader has arrived. This means that the follower should trust the leader even if his judgment seems unwise, realizing that the leader possesses many facts that only he knows and that if he, the follower, were acquainted with the entire case, he would probably arrive at the same conclusion.

If, for any reason, the follower cannot give this trust and confidence to the leader, he should never under any condition rebel or revolt. He should very quietly and ethically tiptoe out. He has no right whatsoever to talk to anyone about his differences with the leader, and he should leave without causing as much as a ripple on the water.

4. Respect for the system.  To be sure, we are all human beings stranded on a planet whirling through space. Since there is no one here but us, we have to govern ourselves. This means we have to choose leaders who will govern us. This is why in our system a country has a king or a president, a state has a governor, a city has a mayor, a family has a father, a church has a pastor, and an employee has a boss. Someone must be at the top. The system itself should require loyalty from the follower to the leader. When this system breaks down, anarchy follows the breakdown, and chaos follows the anarchy. This is why we are reminded again and again in the Bible to respect our leaders, obey those who are over us and follow those who lead us. Oftentimes the leader is not of God, but the system is of God and the position is of God. This is why God admonishes children to obey their parents, servants to obey their masters, wives to obey their husbands, citizens to obey their governments, etc. The system is God's plan. We must not rebel against it.

5. Respect for your future.  Disloyal followers are seldom given loyal followers when they become leaders. Disloyal followers make poor leaders.

I have known hundreds of assistant pastors, music directors and education directors to be disloyal and to cause trouble in the church by trying to unseat the pastor or spread rumors about him. I have known very few who have won, and in practically every case, the damage to the disloyal follower is far greater than the damage to the criticized leader. Criticism always hurts the critic more than the criticized. Hatred always hurts the hater more than the hated. Gossip always hurts the gossiper more than the one about whom he gossips. The disloyal follower always stands to lose more than he takes from, the accused leader.

There is also a law of sowing and reaping. In the Bible we are reminded that everything is reproduced after its own kind. Over and over again in the book of Genesis we find everything has in itself its own seed to bring forth its own kind. Ibis is true not only in the physical but also in the emotional, in the personality and in the character. The pastor who criticizes other pastors will have people who criticize him. The teacher who criticizes the principal will have pupils who criticize him. God has a way of "letting our chickens come home to roost."

Not only does the subordinate usually lose, but he is also forming a habit of being disloyal that will hound him the rest of his life. Look at Abraham and Lot. Lot and his herdsmen became disloyal to Abraham. Lot chose for himself the best land, but look at the life of heartache that followed. I have lived long enough to see how battles turn out. I have watched young men become disloyal to leaders. I have watched these young men become middle aged men. I have scrutinized their careers carefully When as a follower one is disloyal, he is usually as a leader suspicious of those who work under him, for he has developed a life pattern which leads to failure and stifles success.

It has also been interesting through the years to watch the development of the children of disloyal people. It is interesting, tragic and almost unbelievable to see how disloyalty in the life of a parent affects the children. Through the years I have made surveys of the children of people who have become disloyal and have left churches that I have pastored. In not one case has a single child gone into full-time service for God, and in most cases, they have become adults who do not even attend church. A part of this is because of their secret and maybe even subconscious disgust for the disloyal parents. Part of it is because the kind of churches chosen later by these people does not turn out the best product. A part of it is God's judgment and the law of sowing and reaping doing its work.

6. Respect for the unsaved.  When Abraham and Lot and their herdsmen had trouble, there is a statement which is brief but arresting which says simply, "And the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land." (Genesis 13:7b) In other words, others saw the strife. They heard the bickering. They observed the disloyalty. One wonders how many people will spend eternity in Hell because of disloyalty which results in bickering, gossip, slander, criticism, vindication, retaliation and other traits spawned in Hell by Lucifer and his angels.


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