Pilgrim’s Keyboard

March 11, 2009

The Pastor

Filed under: Some Famous | Some Not So Famous — pilgrimskeyboard @ 4:04 pm

 

 

 

February 22, 2009
Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2 – The Pastor
Dr. Mark Dever

We are seeing a changing role for the pastor today a new kind of leadership. Gone is the older model of scholar/saint the one who knew his flock and how to tend it. Now we see a new celebrity style a leader who works by manipulating the feelings of the audience. Management follows the pattern of a CEO. Pragmatic any technique is OK if it produces the desired result.

Why do we need to know what a pastor should be? If you’re a Christian, knowing this can help you to understand your pastor/elders. It can help you to pray for them, and how to do a good job choosing them.

I. The Number of Shepherds.

The same folks are referred to by different names in the Bible. Leaders, elders, pastors, and ministers are all similar. There is not a distinction between “bishop” and “elder.” All bishops are elders are pastors, etc. The senior pastor is generally responsible for care of the body as a whole.

Does the Bible teach a “senior pastor”? Maybe. It does not teach it directly, but not all elders function in exactly the same way in the Bible. Some move from place to place. Others are indigenous to one place. Others, like Timothy, came from outside the community to become one of the elders and one who seemed to be a senior pastor. Some are supported full-time by the flock others are not. Interesting to note that Paul wrote to Timothy alone in I and II Timothy, not to the elders as a group. Timothy appears to be a senior pastor, among other elders. The letters of Jesus in the Revelation to the churches are each addressed to the messenger, singular as though there is one person leading the church. Leadership by multiple elders has great benefit rounding out the senior pastor’s deficiencies and providing continuity when the senior pastor leaves.

II. The Nature of a Shepherd.

A faithful pastor is an awful weapon in the hands of a Holy God. (Spurgeon)

Where does this image of a shepherd/pastor come from in Scripture? Old Testament folks were an agricultural people. We see this in Genesis 47, 48:15, 49:24.

Moses prays for a leader to bring the people out so that the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd. Joshua became Moses’ successor to be a shepherd over them. King David is described as the shepherd of God’s people Israel. The Bible often employs the image of God’s people as sheep without a shepherd. It is meant to be a pathetic image bringing to mind a flock wandering aimlessly to their destruction.

The image is also used in the Bible to show compassion. Zechariah 10:2 speaks of false prophets, resulting in people wandering, scattered, like a people oppressed for lack of a shepherd. Jesus uses the scattered sheep image. In Mark 6, He had compassion for people who were like sheep without a shepherd. He tells the disciples they would scatter when the shepherd was struck. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to come and Himself shepherd His people. Matthew 2 speaks of fulfilling the prophecy of Micah of a shepherd over God’s people. The Shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd (John 10:11), who lays down his life for the sheep.

Peter writes to Christians (I Pet 2:25) who were like sheep going astray, but who now have returned to the Shepherd of their soul. John writes in Revelation 7:17 that the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd and wipe away every tear.

A shepherd, a pastor, is one of the good gifts God gives His church. What does it mean to serve as a pastor or elder? Peter charges his fellow elders (I Peter 5:1ff) to shepherd the flock of God so they would receive the unfading crown of glory. In Acts 20, Paul meets with the elders from Ephesus and exhorts them to keep watch over themselves and all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers. Elders or bishops or pastors are commanded to be shepherds.

III. What are the duties of a shepherd?

1. The shepherd should feed the sheep.

Peter becomes the prototype shepherd in John 21:15 feed my lambs. This is the main work of the elder. This is why I Timothy 3 presents the only qualification for elder not expected of all Christians as being apt to teach.

The pastor is supposed to declare God’s word to his people. The elders here at CHBC want to sincerely avoid “not feeding” the sheep. That’s why we generally use expositional preaching here. Ambrose of Milan in the fourth century saw the most central task of the elder being biblical instruction and teaching. Such feeding is the duty of every elder. A pastor can do a lot of things but He must preach the word. Everything else is secondary to that responsibility.

Do you feed on God’s word? This is how you mature in Christ. CHBC is known as a congregation that loves God’s word. We seek to raise up men who can faithfully preach that word. We are to live not on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from God. Feeding this congregation is the joy and privilege of the pastors.

2. The shepherd should know the sheep (John 10:14; Ezek. 34).

How did Jesus “do” discipleship? He called the disciples by name and cultivated personal relationships. The shepherd cares for the one who wanders off. Some congregations are too large for one pastor to know all the sheep. That’s why we try to encourage discipleship relationships. And we have multiple elders to help with the task of knowing the 680 sheep here. Every pastor should follow the example of the good shepherd.

Members, do not hesitate to ask elders for personal help. If you don’t inform elders, they won’t know and they are commanded by God to know you.

3. The shepherd should guide the sheep.

The shepherd walks the path first, so that the sheep know the way to go. Shepherds are called to watch over themselves so that they will be able to lead others. They are called to be examples to the flock. Hebrews urges members to pray for the elders and imitate their faith. They are called to be an example and to be humble. A good pastor shares his life. Exemplary living is a duty of every elder/pastor. Pray for the pastor’s life and wisdom. Pray that the Lord would help members to seek and submit themselves to their godly counsel.

4. Guard the sheep.

Sheep are not a stationary commodity. They must be guarded and watched. They are prone to wander. The shepherds are to protect sheep even from their own wanderings. It takes courage to correct these sheep; particularly because these wandering sheep are the least likely to listen to the elder. Pray for the elders in this matter. Pray that wandering sheep would have ears to hear, and elders would have courage to correct.

5. Protect the sheep from attackers.

Wandering is not the only problem of the sheep. Some seek to snatch them away (John 10). The sheep need to be protected, even from attackers within even from elders. The Ephesian elders are warned of false teachers who will come in and not spare the flock. Paul instructs Titus that an elder must hold firmly to the trustworthy message and refute those who oppose it.

6. The shepherd loves the sheep to the point of laying down his life for them.

Contrast the good shepherd to the hired hand in John 10:11. The elder’s heart should be set on being a servant of the sheep. The elder must not be selfish. He must have selfless love and combine authority and love. Not love for the “honor” love for those over whom the elders are required to exercise authority. This authority is to be a blessing for the sheep in their care.

If you are not a Christian, I hope you see something in this message of the love that should characterize Christianity. In Romans 5:6 we read how Christ died for the ungodly for sinners those in rebellion against God. God has taken upon himself, in Jesus Christ, the punishment we deserve for our sins. Laying down one’s life for sheep is a picture of pastorly work.

Why should a shepherd do all this? Because he loves the Savior. All other motivations will not do. Because we are grateful to him the good Shepherd who has laid down his life for us. We delight in Him as the one whom we must love “better to be with Christ, Christ is best.” Pastors are humbled when they think of the great Shepherd. They remember that shepherds must give account for the sheep in their care. The sheep belong to the Lord, not to the elders. The Lord tells Peter of “my” sheep. The pastor does not own the sheep; God does.

Pastors are humbled when they think of themselves. Like you, our shepherd is the Lord. Any good pastor exercises authority knowing that he himself is under the authority of the great Shepherd. The pastor is only doing what he has been called to do laying down his self for the church.

Remembering what God has done for us focusing on the cross. At the cross, we find our motivation, our foundation. This is true for pastors, elders, all Christians.

Contact Us:
Capitol Hill Baptist Church
525 A Street, N.E. | Washington, D.C. | 20002 | (202) 543-6111
chbc@capitolhillbaptist.org

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