There is great confusion regarding what an evangelical is and what is meant by leadership. Many have added psychology, sociology and culture to the definition of the church. The modern and contemporary church has lost its way. Ministry has become man’s centre and people share little thoughts instead of proclamation of God’s Word. Many churches seek for entertainment and emotionalism; they are not centred on following God’s divine plan. As believers in God’s Word we must be God-focused and biblically defined. What does the Bible say? Times change, cultures change, philosophies change and the church moves around them. However when God changes things He never contradicts his Word.
WHAT IS A CHURCH LOOKING FOR IN A PASTOR?
We have become very secular in our views of what we want in a pastor. We leave aside the scriptural view for our own. We want a 35-45 year old multi-talented married man with children. His wife should be able to play the piano, lead the women’s meetings, children’s works, mother and toddlers. His family must be models of behaviour always in church, never run around in church or get angry when he is called names.
The Pastor should know and understand fundamental doctrine sin Scripture. Some churches believe he should have a College education. (This may be helpful, however many self-taught men have been given the gift of pastor/teacher been tremendous in their pastorates. They may have had an extensive experience in all areas of church life.) He needs to be at all the meetings, all the various activities, be a great evangelistic preacher, teacher and leader. He must not preach longer than 20 minutes and his messages must be always uplifting and stimulating and not give reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. He must be available 24 hours a day, give advice on personal problems, leadings, financial problems, marriage guidance counsellor, want to dedicate babies, marry people, and bury them. He must administrate all the affairs of the church including building and grounds as well as office work. He must be a fundraiser, appeals officer, missionary expert, and make sure the church meets the budget.
He must visit the sick, nursing homes, and hospitals, visit members, give people a ride to help meet hospital appointments and doctor’s appointments. He must be aware of new laws pertaining to child abuse, sexual harassment, abortion, homosexuality, building codes and insurance, marriage laws and divorce laws and procedures. This is what some people want the pastor to do. However, the Bible puts the emphasis upon gift and character.
WHAT DOES THE PASTOR/SHEPHERD DO?
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Ps.23: 1
Shepherds during David’s times were no hirelings-they owned the sheep they cared for, they were acquainted with all their sheep, and were quick to discover and supply their individual needs. Each morning he would lead his sheep out from the fold to find good pasture for them. He needed to be familiar with the territory to know the special places where good pasture could be found; to find quiet water where they would quench their thirst; and shady places to protect them from the hat of the noon day sun. He had to defend his sheep when they were attacked by their enemies, protecting them against ravages of wolves and bears that were lurking near some of the best feeding places, preying especially upon the weaker sheep. For that reason he would carry a ‘rod’, a club–like stick with which he would ward off the predators. It was his duty to seek out straying sheep and bring them back to the fold. That was the purpose of the ‘staff’; to nudge the lamb on its side when it wandered off the path, or with the crook, pull it back by its legs. Often the shepherd would carry the weak lambs in his arms and tenderly lead those who were footsore.
When the day was done, before darkness set in, the shepherd led the sheep back to the fold. At the door of the sheepfold the shepherd stood, and carefully, inspected the sheep as they passed by one by one before him into the fold. He had his horn filled with olive oil and a supply of ‘Cedar-tar’, anointing a knee bruised by the rocks, or a side scratched by thorns. If one of the sheep was simply worn out or exasted, he bathed it’s face and head in the refreshing olive-oil, and took the large two-handled cup that hangs by his side, filled it brimming full from the water he has brought for that purpose, and let the weary sheep drink. The day’s toil was over and the Shepherd settled down to guard the sheep overnight.
God is the heavenly Shepherd who cares for all the needs of His sheep. Even though they may wander, be awkward, and stupid He loves each one individually. Psalm 23 and John 10 give us great insight to a Shepherds heart. The good Shepherd calls them by name (John 10:3), he ‘knows them’ (John 10:27), and goes out to seek the ‘one which is lost’ (Luke 15:4). He provides rest, food, water, encouragement ‘restoring the soul, he leads (not drives) and guides them; he instructs and disciplines them in the right way. ‘I will fear no evil’ gives them security and protection’, He is with them and lays down his life for them. Christ is ever the Chief Shepherd, the Head of the Church, pastors and elders are the under-shepherds and labourers. (Acts 20:28) There are other places in scripture where the Lord Himself is our Shepherd. (Isa.40: 11; Ps.80: 1; Heb.13: 20; 1 Pet.2: 25)
‘The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.’ Ps.23: 1
God is the heavenly Shepherd who cares for all the needs of His sheep. Even though they may wander, be awkward and stupid He loves each one individually. Psalm 23 and John 10 give us great insight to a Shepherds heart. The good Shepherd calls them by name (John 10:3), he ‘knows them’ (John 10:27), and He seeks the ‘one which is lost’ (Luke 15:4). He provides rest, food, water, encouragement ‘restoring the soul, he leads (not drives) and guides them; he instructs and disciplines them in the right way. ‘I will fear no evil’ gives them security and protection’, he is with them and lays down his life for them. Christ is ever the Chief Shepherd, the Head of the Church, pastors and elders are the under shepherds and labourers. (Acts 20:28)
The Christian pastor (poimen) is to follow the Chief and Great Shepherd of the sheep (1 Peter 5:4; Hebrews. 13:20) to shepherd God’s flock so they do not lack. This word is mentioned nine times but the Bible deals mostly with the ‘qualities’ rather than the duties and responsibilities. He leads by example. He meets their needs. He is a pastor/teacher (Ephesians 4:11) he preaches and teaches the sheep God’s truth and has a close relationship with them. He is an elder (presbuteros), bishop (an overseer) which involves the overall needs of the flock. Shepherding is not restricted to feeding alone but rather to the complete care of congregation.
The longing to ‘aspire’ or stretch oneself apart out in order to touch or grasp something, to reach out for something, comes from the Greek word meaning ‘a runner lunging for the finishing line’. It is to set one’s heart after, to desire. (1Timothy 3:1) The motivation must be for God’s glory not for selfish reasons or seeking position. Examine yourself, your lifestyle, your habits, how you rule your own household, your integrity, your standards, your family life, faithful on the job and can be trusted with timekeeping and not time stealing, do you set a good example to others, what do they see you doing, saying or acting? Is your character and conduct good, are you a man of the Book. Remember you are a model for the rest of the church.
Are you striving for the characteristics ‘to be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money…manage his own family well and…have a good reputation with outsiders’ (1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus).
THE SHEPHERD LEADS HIS FLOCK
Moses, Jeremiah, even a Pagan king was considered to be shepherds of God’s people. (Isa. 63:11, 44:28; Jer. 23:4) In the New Testament the elders (Pastors) were to lead the sheep also. (Heb. 13:7,17) Pastors may never be stripped of their leadership role but may be disciplined or asked to leave because of immoral behaviour or conduct that is unbecoming to a leader of God’s people. It is not committees, or deacons who make spiritual decisions for the sheep but the pastors. If he goes beyond scriptural bounds he must then be confronted and corrected or disciplined.
THE SHEPHERD FEEDS HIS FLOCK
‘Woe to the shepherds who take care of themselves! Should not the shepherd take care of the flock? You eat curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock’. (Ezk. 34:2-3) He goes on to say the diseased were not strengthened, the sick were not healed, the broken were not bound up, those that were driven away or lost were not sought, but they ruled them with force and cruelty. (Ez.34: 4) In the New Testament the pastor feeds the sheep by ‘teaching’ them because he is a pastor/teacher. (Acts 20:18; Eph.4: 11; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Pet.5: 2).
Jeremiah said ‘ And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding’. (Jer.3: 15)
Paul links both, pasturing and teaching as imparting God’s truth, pastoring involves the broader life of the flock. He combines both ‘the gospel (teaching) imparting our own live also’. (1 Thess. 2:8) Paul admonishes the elders at Ephesus to ‘shepherd the Church of God’ (Acts 20:28) the flock belongs to God. Peter tells his fellow elders to ‘shepherd the flock of God among you’. (1 Peter 5:2)
The Shepherd Oversees His Flock 1 Timothy 5:17, Hebrews 13:7
Overseeing involves ruling. They rule as servants and do not lord it over the people. (Matthew 20:25-26; 1 Peter 5:3) They follow Christ’s example.
Two things mentioned that the church should do (a) obey the leaders, (Hebrews 13:17, (b) greet the leaders (Hebrews 13:24).
HOW DO YOU SHEPHERD THE FLOCK? Acts 20:29-32
Paul gives instructions to pastors on how to pastor the sheep.
Vs 29. Deal with the enemy attacks, the Devil wants to get into the church.
Vs 30. Protect the sheep from wolves within the flock, remove them from the flock.
Vs 31. Be on the alert, the enemy will try and divide and scatter the flock.
Vs 32. Entrust the flock to God and pray for them.
Vs 32. Assurance of growth comes through study of the Word, it builds you up.
THE SHEPHERD PROTECTS HIS SHEEP
‘And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they become meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered’. (Ezk.34: 5; Jn. 10:8-12) The shepherd exercises good care for the sheep; he lies down at the entrance of the sheepfold and demonstrates his care and protection of the sheep.
THE PASTOR SEEKS THE SHEEP
‘My sheep wander through all the mountains, and upon every high hill, yea my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them’. (Ezk. 34:6,16) Jesus told how the shepherd left the ninety-nine and went after the one who was lost (also Matt. 9:36). The true shepherd cares for his sheep who are scattered and, and he does what ever is needed to find and restore lambs.
Paul links both, teaching is imparting God’s truth pastoring involves the broader life of the flock. He combines both ‘the gospel (teaching) imparting our own live also’. (1 Thess. 2:8) Paul admonishes the elders at Ephesus to ‘shepherd the Church of God’ (Acts 20:28) the flock belongs to God. Peter tells his fellow elders to ‘shepherd the flock of God among you’. (1 Peter 5:2)
THE CALL OF LEADERSHIP
God calls and gives gifts to certain men to serve as leaders of the church. They lead in worship, preaching and teaching, shepherding, evangelism, discipleship and counselling. The latter helps him to develop other young men for the ministry.
The Holy Spirit works internally and draws a man to this desire to minister and serve externally. The man becomes assured and knows he is acting in obedience to God’s will. He is confident of heavenly support and knows that God has employed him for ‘the work of the ministry’. The ministry, the desire, and the competencies from God and by his providence he provides the means, the time, the place and entering the work. It is God who soveriegnly provides leaders for the church. God opens a door for the man but he will meet obstacles and frustrations. (1 Corinthians 16:8-9) The man must ask ‘Do others recognise my gift?’ ‘Do they ask me to serve in a leadership capacity?’ ‘Am I asked to teach and preach?’ The answers only come through active involvement in the local church.
1. The first thing the man should know is that he has been saved and has assurance of his salvation.
2. The man must have the assurance that God has called and gifted him.
3. There must be a deep longing to serve in the ministry.
4. The man’s lifestyle must be characterized by moral integrity.
5. The call is to be confirmed by others. Friends and experienced ministers counsel him in case he may be self-deceived. (Proverbs 12:15; 13:10; 15:20).
6. The Christian community (church) confirms the inward call and external ability and it’s consent is given. It was the body of believers who chose and set apart leaders to serve. (Titus 1:5) They recognised the qualified men.
7. God confirms the call through providing the gift, the circumstances of providing a place in the ministry.
THE TASK-TO EQUIP THE SAINTS Ephesians 4:11-16
Vs 11 God gives the gift of ‘pastor/teacher’. God gives the gifts to certain men and then gives these men to the church.
Vs 12 ‘For the perfecting of the saints’, pastor/teachers are given for the perfecting (bring to maturity) of the saints. This is so that the church may be brought to full maturity.
Vs 12 ‘For the work of the ministry’, means to equip the saints for service of the ministry. The called men must be equipped themselves. Training and education must go hand in hand with spiritual giftedness from God. It is not a matter of natural talent, love for God, or doctrine but a gift from God. He has already received this gift at conversion but needs to develop and train it. He must learn how to use it. Every man is a minister and a priest, no man has all the gifts. Don’t expect the pastor/teachers to do it all. Pastors are to teach and train you.
Vs 12 ‘For the edification (building up) of the body of Christ’, the people of God must be fed and built up in their faith.
Equipping means to mend the saints, to get them ready for service. (Ephesians 4:12)
Complete (1 Thess.3:10) is to furnish and finish completely what he started. It also means to ‘mend or restore’. Paul uses the word in Galatians 6:1 to restore a sinning brother.
Proclamation, exhortation, admonishing and comforting are included in the ministry. Teaching may be public or private. Either way he must be able to teach. (1 Timothy 1:7) A leader must be able to ‘teach, exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict’. (1 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 13:7)
THE SERVING FLOCK
We are all called to serve God and it is both a privilege and an obligation. The church is ‘created for good works’ (Ephesians 2:10). In Israel priests were selected from one tribe only but today there is only one priesthood that God recognizes this is the priesthood of all believers who are chosen from every tribe and nation. All believers are chosen as priests in the church it is the catholic (universal) priesthood. As priests we offer our lives as living sacrifices to God. (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9) The Holy Spirit gives each of us abilities at the point of salvation. (1 Corinthians 12:11). These gifts are for the common good of all the church and not to be used for selfish reasons. (1Cor.14: 7) God leaves no believer out we all have at least one gift. (Ephesians 4:7) We are given sample lists of gifts in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30; 1 Peter 4:10. We are to understand that there is diversity in gifts but unity in the body. We are to endeavour to keep that unity. (Ephesians 4:1-6) Each believer is called of God and should be involved in ministry. Every person should minister but not every person should lead, pastor and teach the flock.