Do I have to obey a human discipler? I have heard Hebrews 13:17 quoted to tell me I need to be humble and follow advice. But sometimes it feels like I am following orders, especially when I don't agree with the advice. Please help me.

No, we are not obligated to obey human disciplers. To begin with, there are no "disciplers" in the New Testament. Instead, we find the "one-another passages." There are dozens of them. If you are not familiar with these scriptures, use your concordance or skim through the New Testament, and they will leap off the page at you! This does not mean that we do not all need instruction, or that we should disregard advice. "Victory comes through many counselors" -- which I take to mean we all need a number of "disciplers."

Hebrews 13:17 does not give carte blanche to a leader. I believe the passage most likely refers to elders. At any rate, there is not enough information in this one passage to enable us to decide how much "authority" a leader has in the life of a "non-leader." Leaders cannot bind their advice or opinions on others. (Maybe a good way to understand the scope of obedience to leaders in the New Testament is to study Acts and the letters to notice the sorts of things leaders told others to do.)

In short, advice should be weighed. It should be considered. We are under no obligation to follow it. The word of God, on the other hand, is not to be "considered." It is to be obeyed. Humanly speaking, there is a strong tendency to confuse God's word with our guidelines and suggestions. This is dangerous (Mark 7:1-9).

This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only.