The Heart of a Pastor

The Heart of a Pastor

heartofpastor
 
Expectations of A Pastor
Many of the places I have visited have certain expectations of pastors. Some are realistic while others are unrealistic. And without question, they include given to honesty, preaching certain doctrinal and prophetic sermons, being sincere about pastoral ministry and manifesting a sincere and caring disposition toward members. Of course, there is more, but these would seem to top the list. However, are these expectations fair, or are they going over board? Do they comport with Scripture and today’s best practices? A serious look at Scripture would seem to concur that pastors should be upright, for the Apostle Paul says, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach” (1Timothy 3:2). Also, Paul calls for pastors to preach constantly and relevantly. He says, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2, 3). The Scripture also emphasize that pastors should be sincere and caring- among other things (Ezekiel 34, John 10, et al).
 
Attitude of Members Towards The Pastor
On the other hand, it would be good to consider what should be the attitude of members toward pastors, notwithstanding their expectations.  For starts, the Scripture calls for members to respect their spiritual leaders (2 Kings 2:23), and even when there are questions regarding them, at least respect the office or their calling. David asked Saul, “’Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’? Look, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed’” (1 Samuel 24:9, 10). Now, the required respect toward pastors is not intended to excuse pastors from being accountable for their actions but to accord them and their office of service a level of respect. Nevertheless, I return to the main focus of pastors relating to their flock. The members’ response is likely to be considered in a future article. Accordingly, the following points are posited with the objective of helping pastors see and understand what should be their modus operandi by examining the life and example of Jesus especially in the context of John 10.
 
Consider the Example of the Model Pastor
For a balanced understanding of the pastor’s role in relating to his members, it is only fitting that one begins by looking at the ideal pastoral model. And for this writer, that is clearly outlined in John 10 which is referred to as the “Good Shepherd.” In fact, Jesus employed this term to aptly describe Himself by declaring, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11, NKJV).  The term which is recorded just three times in the entire Bible in just 2 verses (John 10:11, 14) constitutes the supreme pastoral model. On the other hand, the term “shepherd” is recorded some 55 times in the New King James version of the Bible. However, the significance of this is that in each of the three instances employed, Jesus qualifies “shepherd” by attaching the adjective “good.” According to the Greek language, the idea of excellence, ideal, and better is conveyed, but that is not surprising since the term as already noted refers to Jesus as the perfect shepherd and pastor. So looking at the context of John 10, we see Jesus as the “Good Shepherd” standing in contradistinction to the “hireling,” who has no sense of ownership, commitment and service. For him, it is just a job. Whereas the Good Shepherd “gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11,NKJV), the hireling, “who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees” (John 10:12, NKJV). Furthermore, “The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep,” but the Good Shepherd knows His sheep and is known of them (John 10:14, NKJV). The Good Shepherd is also interested in the potential flock and goes after them. Jesus contends, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring” (John 10:16, NKJV), but no mention is recorded of the hireling’s attitude towards these ones. It would seem that the hireling reasons: “There is nothing to be gained ,” but the Good Shepherd willingly lays down His life for His flock (John 10:17, NKJV). Indeed, Jesus is the Good Shepherd! What more could He give? What more could He do? He is the model! He is the epitome of pastoral practice and ministry! He is the perfect example! There is no other that equals or comes near Him. So it does not make sense to consider another or settle for another example. His example is superior to all others and should be embraced and applied by today’s pastors. Admittedly, while serving as a full-time pastor, I visited my members regularly and endeavored to preach solid biblical sermons. However, if given the opportunity to do full- time pastoral ministry again, I would spend more time training my parishioners, according to Ephesians 4:12, to identify and use their gifts/talents for the work of ministry, in addition to visiting regularly and preaching sound biblical messages. Continues next week