The Heart of a Pastor Part II
Continued from last week
Informing Our Understanding of Pastoral Care and Practice
With such remarkable characteristics of the ideal pastor (Jesus), it is anticipated that there would be an impacting, an influencing, and an informing of how today’s pastors function. As we have already seen, the Good Shepherd is fully committed to the well-being of His flock, and the hireling has no interest except for himself. Accordingly, this remarkable example of Jesus should challenge today’s pastors to go the extra mile, serve with distinction and sacrificially. His example should spur on pastors to be fully committed. To do otherwise is unacceptable as seen in Ezekiel 34. Writes Ezekiel, “Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them’” (Ezekiel 34:2-4, NKJV). Certainly, these actions do not speak of a pastoral heart of love and concern, whereas “the Latin word ‘pastor’ means a shepherd and comes from ‘pasco,’ to feed, whence comes also our word pasture” (Ball, C. F., 1949, The Minister as Pastor, Bibliotheca Sacra, 106, 465).
Conversion Is Essential for Effective Pastoring
No wonder Ellen White says, “unless the ministers are converted, our churches will be sickly and ready to die. God’s power alone can change the human heart and imbue it with the love of Christ. God’s power alone can correct and subdue the passions and sanctify the affections. All who minister must humble their proud hearts, submit their will to the will of God, and hide their life with Christ in God (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 143). On the other hand, she adds, “Christ will be with every minister who, although he may not have attained to perfection of character, is seeking most earnestly to become Christ like” (Ibid). She contends, “Such a minister will pray. He will weep between the porch and the altar, crying in soul anguish for the Lord’s presence to be with him; else he cannot stand before the people, with all heaven looking upon him, and the angel’s pen taking note of his words, his deportment, and his spirit” (Ibid). Such a minister will possess a pastor’s heart based on his/her attention to spiritual growth and nurturing.
Embracing the Good Shepherd Model
It would be fair to say that no pastor wants to model the “hireling,” but truth be told it is easy to look out for self. While some persons are more given to being sensitive and caring, not everyone is. Nevertheless, the example of Christ in John 10 and elsewhere in the gospels in relating to His disciples calls pastors to a higher standard of ministry. It calls pastors and by extension, the priesthood of all believers to love and have compassion for one another. However, unlike Jesus, one is not called to lay down his life in order to provide salvation. For Jesus did that once and for all as noted in Hebrews 9:11, 12. “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (NKJV). Therefore, as observed by Nathan H. Gunther, “Broad scholarly support exists for the assertion that Jesus fully intended that His description of the ‘Good Shepherd’ should be understood as a template for future leadership among God’s people” (The Journal of Applied Christian Leadership, Volume 10, NO 1, Spring 2016 “For The Flock: Impetus For Shepherd Leadership In John 10,” Nathan H. Gunther).