The gift of pastor
Ephesians 4:11 (NIV) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
The gift of pastor is the ability to assume a long-term personal responsibility for the spiritual welfare of a group of believers.
The responsibility to pastor
John 21:1517 (NIV) When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
Everyone who loves Jesus should also extend this love to Jesus’ flock. Pastoring is therefore not only extended to those that has the gift of pastoring.
The meaning of the word pastor
The word pastor means shepherd.
Jer 3:15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. (NIV)
Jer 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. (KJV)
The background of the term lies in the biblical image of the people of God as God’s flock (Jer. 23:14; Ezek. 34:116; Luke 12:32; John 10:16).
Jer 23:1 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD.
The office of pastor
It is necessary to distinguish between the office of pastor and the gift of pastor. Most of the people whom we call pastors in church are occupying the office of pastor. Not everyone who has the office of pastor needs the gift of pastor, and not everyone who has the gift of pastor needs to work in a church office and occupy the office of pastor. A person who serves as a pastor in a church may not have the gift of pastor. He may only have the gift of missionary, etc. A cell leader is a good example of someone who practises the gift of pastor without holding the office of pastor.
What makes a good pastor
To answer the question, we simply look at verses that describe a good shepherd.
John 10:1116 (NIV) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Fatherand I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
1. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The ultimate example Jesus gave as a good shepherd was when He gave His own life for His sheep. While our present situation hardly calls for something that extreme, we can in a sense give our life for our sheep by sacrificing our time and money. Shepherding requires an investment of time and sometimes even money.
1 Th 2:8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
2. A good shepherd protects his sheep.
When the little shepherd boy David volunteered to kill the Philistine Goliath, the king doubted him. David had to convince him that as a shepherd, he frequently has to risk his life and fight to protect his sheep.
1 Samuel 17:3435 (NIV) But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.
Protecting our sheep in the modern day context can be a matter of keeping our sheep away from false doctrines and bad influence. The adversary Satan is roaming the earth seeking whom he may devour. He is also the father of lies, penetrating the church with false doctrines.
Mat 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
False prophets penetrate your group sometimes disguising themselves as Christians (sheep). As a shepherd, we have the responsibility to discern false doctrines and get rid of false teachers.
3. A good shepherd has a close relationship with his sheep – he knows his sheep and his sheep knows him
That is why spending time with the sheep is so important; so that you know them and they know you. The sheep in Jesus’ day were only willing to follow the shepherd because they recognise his voice. Likewise why should we expect any of our sheep to listen to our instructions if we do not spend time to get to know them, gain their trust and to be known by them.
Psalms 23 (NIV) A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
5. A good shepherd meets the needs of his sheep
Because of the good shepherd, the sheep shall not want. In other words, he has no lack. The shepherd makes the sheep lie down on green pastures. Those who know sheep also know that a hungry sheep will not lie down. When sheep are lying down on green pastures, it means that they have their tummies full. The good shepherd makes sure that the needs of the sheep are met.
6. A good shepherd restores the sheep to the right way.
David, the author of Psalms 23, did not forget his great sin of adultery. But he also remembers that it was God who restores his soul and leads him in the way of righteousness. A good shepherd must lead an errant sheep back to the right path.
Luke 15:4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninetynine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
Christ’s mission was mainly to this regard.
Mat 15:24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
7. A good shepherd is not domineering over his sheep always insisting on his own way.
…..he leads me beside quiet waters
In Jesus’ day, a shepherd never drove his sheep; he led them. Nowadays, this is no longer the case. A shepherd would chase the sheep from behind. During the time of Jesus, the shepherd was with the sheep day and night. They knew his voice and followed him. We must lead our sheep by our example, not drive them with our demands.
1 Peter 5:23 (NIV) Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseersnot because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
8. A good shepherd feeds his sheep
John 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Apart from meeting the needs of the sheep in tangible ways, the shepherd should feed the sheep with spiritual food. That is why the gift of pastor and teacher is so linked.
Ephesians 4:1112 (NIV) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
The gifts of pastor and teacher are mentioned together as if those who have the gift of pastor also usually have the gift of teaching as well.