By: Larry Payne
My Pastor and His Responsibilities
Within the framework of the church, no person is so vital as the person who brings the Word of God to the congregation. Upon his shoulders rest the responsibility of maintaining doctrinal purity, standards of holy living, and the evangelistic outreach of the local church. His calling, preparation, and ministry demand a total consecration and dedication to God and others: without doubt, the destiny of many souls will be determined by how he performs his duties.
The saints should know the person God has called and then submit themselves as a sheep to a shepherd. In response to the labor of love by the ministry, the saints should esteem the man of God because of the message of truth he carries.
As we study today’s lesson concerning the heart of a pastor, we should remember the ministry and example of our Lord. Jesus gave us the greatest example of a true pastor. This example can best be summed up in His own words.
“And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”(Matthew 20:27-28)
Jesus Christ is the Chief Shepherd and all the pastors in the church are under-shepherds. To be a true shepherd one must follow His example and allow the Spirit of Christ to control and motivate him in all that he does.
The true pastor leads a most self-sacrificial life, constantly ministering to others with little thought of personal reward. Certainly his whole life is poured forth in ministering to the needs of the flock.
Upon another occasion Jesus gave another statement which gives us insight into the heart and spirit of the pastor.
“The good shepherd liveth his life for the sheep” (John l0:ll)
As we examine the heartbeat of the pastor, we shall see the truth expressed here. The true pastor gives his life, physically, mentally, and emotionally, as he constantly looks after the flock. So it was in the
ministry of our Lord while upon earth; so it is with every true pastor wherever his field of labor may be: in the busy city, in a rural community, here at home, or abroad upon a remote missionary field.
I. The Pastor’s Preaching
A. Paul’s Example
In his letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul testified that he had been bold to preach the gospel even against opposition and contention. He did not use flattering words to please men, but he sought to please God. The suffering at Philippi did not cause him to be unfaithful.
He did not preach the gospel in error or guile. He boldly preached the truth regardless of the persecution he experienced.
B. The Pulpit Ministry
There is no place where the pastor’s image is more clearly seen by the public, or where his word carries greater weight than behind the pulpit.
The pulpit is the pastor’s sole responsibility. He alone must answer to God for the sermons proclaimed from the sacred desk. Whether it be anointed, sound doctrine, the unadulterated Word of God preached without fear, but in a spirit of love, or it be a watered-down social message to please the fancies of men, the pastor shall one day be held responsible for the messages that he himself preaches, but he is also responsible for the messages that he permits to be preached by other men. He alone is responsible!
Since he is responsible for his pulpit, this becomes the place for his authority. No layman has the right to question him nor criticize him regarding his ministry here. No man has the right to dictate what should be
preached nor what should not be preached. This alone is the pastor’s right and responsibility and he answers only to the One who called him, and commissioned him to preach His Word.
Preaching is not a display of eloquent oratory. The pastor does not stand behind the pulpit to impress the congregation with his own knowledge and ability to use mere words. Preaching is not selling the preacher to the congregation. To peach, the minister must be hidden behind to cross where he will exalt Jesus. To preach is to deliver a message, God’s message. If the pastor has no message from God for the people, there can be no preaching. Not only must he have a message but that same message must be delivered. He must reach the ears and hearts of his people. He must gain and hold the attention of his flock until each member understands clearly the message and is influenced thereby.
Preaching is not just speaking a multitude of empty words. The preacher is not a parrot repeating meaningless phrases. He is an ambassador speaking in Christ’s stead a message of profound truth. That message does not just pass over the man of God. It must pass through him, from his heart to the heart
of those who listen. In so doing, part of the pastor’s own life is poured forth. Part of his own Christian character, his attitudes, his dedication, his example – all are projected forth, changing the sermon from an empty oration to a power-packed message lifting, blessing, and saving men and women.
Two men may preach the identical message to the same congregation. With one the congregation listens with deaf ears and with little response; with the other the congregation listens attentively and responds warmly. What is the difference? The one preached with little result. The other preached the message allowing it to pass through him. In so doing, he poured forth part of himself.
C. A Feeder of the Flock
The meaning of the word pastor is “shepherd” or “feeder.” Jeremiah speaks of this office: “And I will set shepherds over them which shall feed them” (Jeremiah 23:4). Jesus commanded Peter once to feed His lambs and twice to feed His sheep. Peter was grieved that Jesus should ask him three times, “Lovest thou me?” But there was a truth that Jesus wanted impressed indelibly upon Peter’s heart. Peter, who learned his lesson well, later was able to exhort the elders: “Feed the flock of God which is among you” (I Peter 5:2)
As the pastor stands before his people week after week, he must continually remember that he is feeding the flock. In order to feed the sheep he must be a constant student. A person simply cannot feed others until he has first been fed; he cannot give out to others that which he has not first digested himself; he cannot teach others that which he has not first learned himself.
Before he can feed his flock with a well balanced diet, he must know his people and fully understand their needs. Sometimes he must feed them with milk, other times they need strong meat. To understand the needs of the flock, the pastor must be a man of prayer who can be led by the Holy Ghost. He must know those to whom he ministers. This knowledge comes to him through prayer, relationships and counseling.
D. Some Rules for Preaching
Let us make five simple rules to govern the pastor in his pulpit ministry. If he will always remember these rules, it will help him tremendously.
1. The pastor must preach the Word. In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul charged the young minister to do his duty in the pulpit.
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (II Timothy 4:2)
There is a difference between preaching the Word, and preaching about the Word. Too many preach about the Word. They are able to enlarge upon the historical background, the context, the meaning of each word in the original Hebrew or Greek. In fact they are quite able to define and explain, but, when they are finished, the congregation is left cold and unmoved. They might have learned facts concerning the Bible, but it was wholly a mental matter. It might have been just as profitable for them to have attended a class at night school studying some science or vocation.
How different it is when the pastor preaches the Word! The Word is alive and powerful, reaching down into the heart and soul stirring the emotions and moving the will. When the Word is preached, the message of living truth is delivered that changes the lives of the hearers. However, before the pastor can preach the Word, he must have it in his own heart. He must be consumed with the message he delivers. This does not come easily. This can only be accomplished trough hours of prayer and Bible study.
2. The pastor must preach all the Word. The minister is commissioned to preach all the Word. The Bible must be preached from Genesis to Revelation. No part may be omitted.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:l6)
It is quite possible to be neglectful in preparation for pulpit ministry. By so doing he majors on certain few select passages of Scripture, but the rest of the Bible is not preached. This is not fair to his people. They
have a right to hear a balanced, well-rounded message that embraces the entire Word. All Scripture is profitable and should be preached.
3. The pastor must preach to all the flock. In preaching the pastor is ministering not to a select few, but to everyone. He does not preach at the people, but to the people. Actually preaching is a form of communication. The experienced preacher is sensitive to the response he is receiving. A congregation of people may be politely seated watching the preacher, but at the same time bored, inattentive, and simple enduring the sermon.
When the pastor ministers to the needs of the people, the awareness of their response creates a spirit of communication. This comes through a personal concern and love for every member in the congregation. Frequently there can be in the congregation someone who has personally been opposing the pastor. The knowledge of such a person in the assembly must never influence the preaching of God’s Word. The pastor must remember that he is the pastor of that person as well as those who are friendly toward him. He
is the pastor of the children as well as the adults. Rich, poor, male, female, single, married, learned, and illiterate are all under his ministerial care and must be fed according to the individual needs. No one
can be neglected regardless of his race, color, friend, or otherwise. God’s Word must be preached to everyone.
4. The pastor must minister according to the need. God’s Word is able to meet the need of every heart. Occasionally there are the unconverted and backslidden who must be encouraged to seek the Lord. There are also the discouraged and depressed: Some may be going through great trials and temptations. There are the sick who must be encouraged to believe God for deliverance.
As the pastor stands behind the pulpit and looks over the congregation, all kinds of needs are present. It is his business to minister according to the need. The message that he delivers must meet the need of each individual. The pastor can declare his sermon with positive assurance that every need may be met with the proclamation of the Word of life. What strong confidence this knowledge gives to the man of God!
5. The pastor must be faithful in his ministry. The pastor also has many needs, for he is a human being. Moments of great weariness, discouragement, and depression come to him like any other man. There may be days when he is not well.
Regardless of the nature of the temptation and testing that may come to him, he must never show his feelings in the pulpit. When his head is splitting with a headache, his body exhausted with extreme fatigue, his heart heavy with discouragement, he stands behind the pulpit wearing a smile. His voice rings out in a note of positive assurance as he encourages others. He cannot quit; he cannot shirk his duty. He cannot run from his place of responsibility. God has called him to be a steward of the gospel and it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. Each Sunday the people congregate fully expecting to find their pastor faithfully ministering to them. The faithful pastor will not fail them.
II. The Pastor’s Concern
Everywhere the world is filled with sin and sickness. People’s hearts are disturbed with anxiety and fear. The strain and stress of daily life, the lack of security, the motional upheaval caused by torn apart families and marriages, and the frustrations experienced have caused people to be constantly searching for a compassionate heart.
“Heart power” will not only win men and women to the Lord Jesus, but this same power will keep them in the fold. Many a sheep has wandered from the fold because of indifference and coldness on the part of the pastor. There is little purpose in winning new converts if they are not nourished after they are in the church.
There is no member of the church who is unimportant and insignificant. The true pastor will know the value of each member of his flock. With loving tender care, he will feed and nourish the young Christian. In time he will have the joy of observing that same young Christian develop into a strong pillar in the church.
B. The Shepherd’s Voice
Every person wants to be loved. He longs for personal attention from his pastor. He desires a pastor who is interested and concerned. The greatest tribute that he can give his pastor is, “My pastor cares for me
personally.” Such a pastor he will trust and follow. He will confide in him.
The people will pour forth their woes and troubles to a pastor who loves them. To him they will confess their shortcomings, temptations and fears. They will listen to his counseling and admonition and gladly follow his advice. To them, he is not just a preacher. He is their pastor. His voice they know, and to it they will attentively listen.
Certainly this great truth is experienced in every assembly. The people do not know the voice of strangers, but the voice of their pastor they know. This is not brought about just through an installation service although such a service is important. The man of God is not received to this extent in one day’s time. Sometimes it takes months and even years before the pastor has been received and trusted to the degree taught by our Lord.
Such a confidence is not brought about by demand. It must be earned. The lazy, self-indulgent pastor never receives this kind of respect and trust from his people. It is only through self-sacrifice and a life that is
poured forth in love in their midst that the pastor earns his God-ordained place and ministry in the flock over which he has been made an overseer. “Heart power” is what has made the difference.
C. Giving His Life
The pastor’s life is not his own. It belongs first of all to the “Chief Shepherd” and then, secondarily, to the flock.
The pastor must give the same tender care to every member in the church. He must never show partiality; he must not have favorites. He cannot permit himself to have any special buddies. He has only one special Friend, who is none other than Jesus. It is this one Friend, whom he represents to the church, and it is upon the behalf of this one special Friend that the pastor pours forth his life in ministering to the needs of this people.
He spends hours listening patiently to the distresses and problems of both young and elderly. He spends days in hospitals and rest homes ministering to the sick and lonely. All night vigils are spent at the bedside of the dying. He shares the sorrow and grief of the Christian who has lost a loved one. He counsels young people while they are courting, and young married couples in establishing happy homes.
He is never so busy that he cannot find time to listen. He is never too weary but he can pray with someone in need. After a long day of hospital visitation and a Bible study in the evening, he finally crawls into bed
bone weary. In the early hours of the morning his sleep is shattered by the ringing of the telephone. Without grumbling he goes to the bathroom to throw cold water over his face, quickly dresses, combs his hair. In ten minutes he is again behind the wheel of his automobile driving across the city to pray for someone who has become sick during the night. It could be that from that home he follows the patient to the emergency ward of a hospital. Again it is an all night vigil. In the morning he tries to catch
a few hours of rest before another day begins. Through it all he must find time to close the closet door and have his own sessions of study and prayer.
It is doubtful whether there is any other profession that drains a man like that of a busy pastor. As he pours forth his life, he is drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Such is the ministry of a true pastor. He willingly and cheerfully carries on because of the love he has for Jesus, and the love he has for the sheep. It is “Heartpower” all the way. The voice of such a pastor the people will know and follow him all the way.
D. Paul’s Concern
There are two phrases in Paul’s letter which expresses well the concern he had for the Thessalonian church. “As a nurse cherisheth her children and “as a Father doth his children” are two clauses which let us know the love the apostle had for the church.
He ministered to them with loving tender care. His great concern was shown by the fact that he nourished them as a nurse does her children. He exhorted, comforted, and charged them as a father does his children.
III, The Pastor’s Example
In his letter to the Thessalonian church, Paul reminded the saints that he and his fellow laborers had behaved themselves holy, justly and unblameably. Then he exhorted them to walk worthy of God. He set the example himself and then expected them to follow. He did not require of them to do one thing that he did not do.
Here the apostle leaves a lesson for all pastors everywhere. The pastor’s life and example will carry more weight than his sermons. In fact, his preaching will have little effect if there is not a godly life behind it.
It is a known fact that members of an assembly will be influenced in every phase of their Christian life by the example of the pastor. At a camp meeting or district conference, one may identify saints as being from
certain churches by listening to them testify and watching them worship. Many times even the mannerisms of the pastor will be copied. If the pastor groans when he prays, the people will groan in prayer. If he dances when he is blessed, he will have a dancing church. If he weeps frequently, he will have a weeping church. Is this all wrong? Not by any means. The Lord has given to His Church pastors as a gift not only to teach and instruct the saints, but also as godly examples which they may observe and follow.
A. A Leader
The pastor is a leader. Sheep are led. One drives a herd of goats or cattle, but he leads a flock of sheep. Jesus likened the saints to sheep. They are easily led, and unfortunately they are easily led astray. God’s
people are frequently quite gullible and are willing to trust. For this reason assemblies are sometimes divided and the saints scattered to be destroyed by the wolves. The hireling will flee when the wolf comes to
devour the flock. It would be difficult to overestimate the value of the true pastor who leads his people by a godly example and who is willing to give his life for the church.
Jesus instituted theocracy as the right form of government for the church, but this theocratic form of government is not a dictatorship. The Apostle Peter exhorted the leaders regarding this.
“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock” (I Peter 5:3)
The pastor is not a bully or a dictator. His people do not obey because of fear. They follow him gladly because they love and respect him. His love and respect has been earned by a godly example, by a true, sanctified life in the pulpit and out of the pulpit. He is not a hireling who is preaching for the money he receives. He is not interested in the people just because of their tithes. He watches over their souls because he loves them; confidently he walks before them, leading them to deeper depths of dedication and to greater service in the kingdom of God. Such a pastor is a true leader!
B. The First Partaker of the Fruit
The pastor is the first partaker of the fruit. This truth may refer to more than the fact that the pastor receives tithes from his people. It applies to every department of Christian living.
If the pastor wants the saints to tithe, he must be a minister who tithes. If he does not tithe, he need not expect the people to tithe. If he never fasts, the people will never fast. If his is a prayerless preacher, he will
have a prayerless church. Of he desires the saints to be punctual in church attendance, he must be punctual. Church services must begin on time. This truth applies to every phase of “worship, evangelism, and church activity.
Although the pastor’s ministry lies mainly within the church, he must have a burden for the lost. If he is not evangelistic, his people certainly will not be. If he is not missionary minded, the saints will have no vision
which reaches beyond the confines of the walls of their own church.
The pastor is the first partaker of the fruit whether it be fasting, prayer, tithing, worship, outreach, door knocking, or sacrificial support of missions – both foreign and home. In every church activity, the pastor
must be not only at the front giving leadership, but also shoulder to shoulder with the saints promoting the work of God.
C. A Holy Life
It is not merely expected of a pastor to live a holy life. It is essential. He cannot separate his ministry from his own life.
As he preaches, admonishes, counsels, teaches, he is pouring forth some of his own life. His own godly example is constantly being projected and being a source of inspiration to others. His sermons carry no more weight than the life behind them. His teaching means no more than the lessons he teaches by personal example.
If he is not a sincere dedicated Christian, no one will listen to what he has to say. A careless, worldly life makes mockery of the gospel and brings reproach upon the name of Jesus. Not only for the salvation of his own soul but for the salvation of all to whom he ministers, the pastor must live a holy life separated from the world.
It is quite possible to be lost even after preaching to others.
“But I keep under by body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27)
Paul practiced what he preached. He conducted himself in a holy and blameless manner. Living a godly life, he had authority to exhort the saints to live likewise. The pastor who lives a godly example before his
people always has the liberty and authority to exhort and encourage them to live in a holy manner. By so doing the pastor is able to save himself and those who hear him.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. Who gave us the greatest example of a true pastor? _____________________
What scripture was given to express His Words? ____________________________
2. Where is the pastor’s image most clearly seen? _________________________
3. Who has the responsibility for the pulpit and all that is preach from
Please give me a few words to explain _____________________________________
4. To preach is to deliver a ___________________, God’s ___________________
5. What is the meaning of the word “pastor”? ______________________________
6. Give 5 rules for preaching:
7. Please write out II Timothy 4:2
8. What is the greatest means that the pastor has to personally minister to
his fellow man? ___________________________________________________________
9. What are the two phrases in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church
that expressed his concern?
10. What form of government did Jesus institute for the church? ___________
11. How is your pastor a leader? __________________________________________
12. How is your pastor the first partaker of the fruit? ___________________
13. Is holiness among the congregation his responsibility also? ___________
14. How many pastors do you have? _________________________________________
15. What is the difference between a shepherd and a hireling? _____________
16. How is your pastor God’s gift to the church? __________________________
17. What should a Christians attitude be toward their pastor? _____________
18. How may the members of an assembly show their love for their pastor?
(The above material was published by Word of Faith Ministries, Azusa, CA.)
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