Last week we looked at two ways that pastors shepherd their church (What is a pastor? Part One.) This week we will look at four more:
Pastors lead and plan. Shepherds lead their flock to places of flourishing. They are always aware of where they are taking their sheep next. If they don’t keep them moving, the sheep run out of food and water, and predators will attack. Pastors need to lead their church from where they are, to where Jesus wants them to be. This means they need to have a vision for their church. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) Pastors are not managers or babysitters. They are leaders.
Pastors protect. Shepherds protect their flock. Pastors are protectors of God’s people. Satan’s goal against the church is to cause division and isolation that leads to spiritual death. Pastors must protect the church from false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). In as much as right doctrine leads to salvation, false doctrine leads to destruction. Pastor’s must also protect their people from sin. In as much as repentance from sins leads to reconciliation with God and others, non-repentant sin always leads to division and broken relationships.
For the sake of the people, pastors will take insults, rejection, and slander. People don’t always respond well when you invite them to leave their sin behind and follow Christ. This hurts, but is part of imitating Jesus who gave up his entire life so his people could be secure with him.
Pastors feed the sheep. If a shepherd doesn’t feed the sheep, the sheep will die. It is essential to not confuse the responsibility to feed, from being the people’s spiritual food. Jesus alone is our spiritual food. Our job is to point people to Jesus, so that they can be satisfied in him.
One way we feed the people is by preaching God’s word. As Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (John 6:35) It is the pastor’s job to take the ancient teachings from the Bible and explain them in ways people can understand thousands of years later. Charles Spurgeon used to say that a good pastor will not expect his people to eat a field of corn, but will take that corn, grind it up and give his people bread that they can consume. These words will give life for the entire bible points to Jesus who is the true “bread of life.”
Pastors multiply. This may not be as obvious as the others, but if a shepherd never multiplied or grew his flock, the flock would eventually die out. Pastors are multipliers. This is the plan for God’s people from the beginning. The first thing God told Adam and Eve to do was to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28) The last thing Jesus told the church to do before he ascended to heaven was to “make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) God wants his people to multiply through the entire earth. For this reason a pastor must always have their eye on making new disciples as well as raising up new leaders to care for them (2 Timothy 2:2). This addresses the challenge and opportunity of a big church!
I hope this has been helpful in reflecting on what God calls a pastor to do. Take a moment and pray now for a pastor you know that he will grow in these things.