Pastors/Shepherd – Called to Nurture and Protect God’s People.
“11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:11-16 NIV
I read about a survey was recently done to find the perfect pastor. According to this study, the perfect pastor meets the following criteria. He will need to…
• Preaches his sermons in exactly 12 minutes
• Frequently condemns sin while never upsetting anyone
• Works from 8:00 a.m. until midnight
• Serves as the church janitor and lawn keeper
• Makes $100 per week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a nice car, and gives $50 per week to the church.
• He is 28 years of age, and he’s been preaching for 30 years
• He is wonderfully gentle and handsome
• Gives of himself completely but never gets too close to anyone lest he be criticized
• He speaks boldly on social issues, but must never become politically involved
• Has a burning desire to work with teenagers, and spends all his time with senior citizens
• Makes 15 calls daily to visit church members, visits the shut-ins and those in the hospital, spends all his time evangelizing the un-churched, and is always in his office when needed
• Prepares three or four inspiring lessons weekly from his lengthy hours in the study.
While these expectations are clearly impossible to place upon pastors, we still need to ask, what is a pastor? What should we expect from a pastor or shepherd of a church? Maybe the more important question to ask is how do the Scriptures define the calling and responsibilities of a pastor?
In the Scripture, a pastor is also known as a shepherd. If a pastor is a shepherd, this implies that the local church is like a flock of sheep. People in Paul’s day knew that shepherds did several things for the sheep.
Shepherds fed and nourished the sheep.
First they provide food that nourishes the sheep, they guide and discipline the sheep, and they protect and provide for the sheep. Shepherds are the caretakers for God’s community and they are called to nourish, nurture, and protect the spiritual maturity of God’s flock. A shepherd cultivates a loving and spiritually mature network of relationships and makes and develops disciples.
Pastors take responsibility to nurture the whole person in their walk with God. They will provide guidance and oversight to God’s people.
Shepherds are not paid by the sheep, but by the owner of the sheep.
The pastor/shepherd is a person that God gives to the church who places himself in service to others so they might become what God wants them to be. While the pastor/shepherd helps the family of God to live with transformed heads, hearts, and hands through their example, teaching, and leadership, it is important to recognize that shepherds are not paid by the sheep, but by their owner.
Shepherds are called to serve God, not the sheep.
Shepherds, in Jesus’ day, cared for the sheep, but were not necessarily the owner of the sheep. Shepherds then, were stewards of the flock. In caring for the flock, they were chosen, selected, and accountable to the owner of the sheep.
Sometimes, there is a tendency for shepherds of the church to act as if they are servants of the sheep. It needs to be understood that the pastor/shepherd is a servant of God, and must be obedient to Him. Someone once pointed out that while sheep may be cute, they do stink… and bite. The shepherd is not a servant that does whatever the sheep want him to do. Rather, the pastor or shepherd is someone who is nurtures, influences, guides, disciplines, supports, and is typically relational. He needs to realize that there are times he must say “no” to obligations and directions if it is not healthy for the flock. He also needs to know that there are some who are being nurtured now, who will grow beyond his ability and need to be freed to be fed elsewhere.
Being a shepherd is a good work… but it is work. It is clear from Scripture that shepherding the church and being a pastor of God’s people is a good work to do – but there should be no mistake made about it… it is work. The pastor’s job is not to meet every need that the congregation has, but it is their job to equip those who are a part of the church to be aligned with God and the building up His fellowship.
Heavenly Father I pray for my pastor today and for those who shepherd Your church. Empower them by Your Holy Spirit to have the courage not to be the “perfect pastor” that people think they need to be, but instead to be faithful as they feed and nourish Your people, and to serve You faithfully. Thank You for those whose hearts are given to You completely and to care for Your bride. I pray for pastors today to have a special encouragement from Your Word. I pray for their families to have a fresh touch of Your Spirit. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ, amen.