In 1st Clement 1, Clement continues enumerating the good qualities of the Corinthians' Christian lifestyle. One thing he notes can be a bit confusing. I mean listen to what he says here:
"For ye did all things without respect of persons, and walked in the commandments of God, being obedient to those who had the rule over you, and giving all fitting honour to the presbyters among you."
He says 1) the Corinthians did everything with no respect of persons. That means they didn't hold any one person or type of person to be more important than another. But then he says 2) the Corinthians were obedient to the rulers of the church and gave honor to the presbyters, or the church officials.
How can the Corinthians have done everything without respect of persons but then given respect to the people in charge of the church? And why are there people in charge of the church anyway? Have you ever thought about that? Why do we need pastors and priests and church leaders? Why can't everyone just be on the same level in the church "without respect of persons"?
Clement, as a church leader himself, would have known two things that help to explain his statement here. First, he would have understood that no person is better than another in God's eyes and that as Christians, we are all equally important and equally valued both by God and by the Body of Christ in general. But he also would have understood that God gives us different talents, different spiritual gifts, and different responsibilities.
Some people, God has given the talent to be doctors. I don't have that talent or training. So when I go to a doctor, I don't view the doctor as being a better person than I am, but I do respect the doctor's authority in his or her field of expertise. I view that doctor with no respect of persons, but with respect for their talent and position.
It's the same thing in the church. God has called some people to be church leaders. And so we view them without respect of persons, but with respect in accordance to the duties they've been chosen to perform.
In society, and especially in the church, we need to understand that we're all the same - we're all equally valuable - but we need to respect each others' unique fields of expertise.