Pastor David Preaching Photo_editThe role of a pastor is filled with challenge and commitment. It requires a lifetime pursuit of development in loving, learning, and leaning on the Lord. Many congregations believe, as one commentator facetiously stated—“pastors are supposed to lead and challenge people, with visionary preaching and careful administration, into uncharted wildernesses to discover new promised lands, flowing with milk and honey.”[1] If we attempt to live up to that expectation than a proper biblical understanding of pastoral ministry is critical.  There are many roles that the pastor is responsible for performing. However, for the purpose of this blog, I would like to examine five biblical responsibilities of a pastor.

First, I will begin with the Pastor’s Proclamation.

According to II Timothy 4:2, the pastor is to: Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”[2]  As Dr. John MacArthur argues, “The office and function of the pastor has a key role in this ministry to proclaim the mystery of godliness. His functions are associated with the church, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15–16).”[3] The pastor is called to the ministry of proclamation so that the world may know the glory of Christ’s story of love and redemption for man. Paul contends that the world needs the preacher’s proclamation—“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14.)

The second role is the Pastor’s Protection.

The pastor’s protection is seen in the term “shepherd” in the Bible. Paul Karleen points out that, “The figure of shepherd is used in Scripture to represent Christ as caring for, feeding, and protecting those who belong to Him (Jn. 10:7); shepherding is the spiritual gift used to care for those in the Body of Christ; Eph. 4:11; 1 Pet. 5:1–4.”[4] The pastor is to protect against dangers, division, dissension, and distortion of God’s Word. He is to guard and guide the flock of God as he gives them the Word of God for spiritual health and growth.

The third role to reflect on is the Pastor’s Purity.

Paul reminded Timothy that he was called to be an example in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Dr. MacArthur reminds us that, “All battles for the integrity of Scripture are ultimately in vain if the church’s preachers are corrupt and the sheep no longer follow their shepherds as models of holiness. The church must have leaders who are above reproach. Anything less is an abomination to God and spells disaster for the life of the church.”[5] We have heard the horrific stories of God’s men falling to the power of temptation. The pastor’s fall will have an effect on every facet of his environment. Yielding to the Spirit in prayer, hiding the Word in his heart, maintaining strengthening relationships, and placing boundaries around his ministry, is essential in the development of the pastor’s purity.

The fourth role to consider is the Pastor’s Passion.

I speak of passion here in relation to people. I have often heard pastor’s jokingly state, “I would love pastoring if it were not for the people.” This statement may bring a chuckle; however, it is not correct. If the pastor is not in the ministry to equip, encourage, and evangelize, then he needs to find something else to do. Again, Dr. MacArthur exhorts, Being compassionate precedes the modeling aspect both in time and in importance. In the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus noted that the Samaritan “felt compassion” first, then he “took care” of the wounded traveler (see. Luke 10:30–37). Like the Lord Jesus, the shepherd must be a man with deep compassion for those in need. Only then can he set the right example.[6]

Last of all, the fifth role of the pastor is the Pastor’s Prayers.

The Bible teaches that all believers are to pray. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” Writing to Timothy, he states in 1 Timothy 2:8 “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” With an examination of the early church, it is easy to see that, “Prayer was an important part of the church’s life (Acts 1:14; 3:1; 4:23–31; 6:4; 10:9; 12:5, etc.). The church prayed for its leaders (6:6), its missionaries (13:3), its sick (James 5:14–18), governing authorities (1 Tim. 2:1–2), and just about anything one could think of (Phil. 4:5–7).”[7]

Although all believers are called to pray, the pastor is called to the ministry of prayer. With all that the pastor has to do, it is amazing how much is done without prayer. The Apostles stated that in everything that was required of them, there were two essentials that stood above the rest. Acts 6:4 provides us with those two essentials—“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” The ministry of the Word and prayer was the main business of their pastoral role. They knew that prayer changes things and moves the heart of God. They had learned this from Christ by watching His prayer life. They never asked, “Lord teach us to preach.” However, they did ask in Luke 11:1, “… Lord, teach us to pray…” By watching Christ in His relationship with His Father they understood that there was power in prayer!

In closing, let me say that although the pastor will never reach perfection in his role, what he gains in trying to do so is excellence. Does not our Lord deserve our very best? Then run the race before you striving for excellence in your ministry. When the Lord returns in the brightness of His glory you will be glad that you did.

 

Missional Until He Comes,

Dr. David Sampson

Psalm 96:3

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            [1] Cedar, P. A., Hughes, R. K., & Patterson, B. (1991). Mastering the pastoral role. Mastering ministry (8). Portland, Or.: Multnomah; Christianity Today, Inc.

            [2] The Holy Bible: King James Version. All Scripture quoted is from the KJV unless otherwise cited.

            [3] MacArthur, J., F., Jr, Mayhue, R., & Thomas, R., L. (1995). Rediscovering pastoral ministry : Shaping contemporary ministry with biblical mandates (Electronic ed.). Logos Library Systems (34). Dallas: Word Pub.

            [4] Karleen, P. S. (1987). The handbook to Bible study : With a guide to the Scofield study system (359). New York: Oxford University Press.

            [5] MacArthur, J., F., Jr, Mayhue, R., & Thomas, R., L. (1995). Rediscovering pastoral ministry: Shaping contemporary ministry with biblical mandates (Electronic ed.). Logos Library Systems (89). Dallas: Word Pub.

             [6] Ibid., 221.

             [7] Ibid., 81.

 

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