<<spiritual shepherd, guide>>
Pastors, as they give direction and vision for the church, are to be fully committed to shepherding and guiding the believers, setting an example of Godly living as they speak the Word of God in truth, without diluting its message of His requirements and principles for living (Mt 5:19, 18:6,7; Jn 10:1-13; 1 Cor 3:10). As it is their responsibility to watch over the ‘flock of God’s sheep’ entrusted into their care they are to know the condition of the people and so fellowship with them is essential, not just in the spiritual setting but also in practical and social activities (Prov 27:23; Act 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2,3). Their role is to minister the love of Christ to the lost and instruct the believers in the way of righteousness, leading by example, not domineering – for spiritual abuse can take many forms ranging from having people dependent on them through to control and total manipulation as evidenced in cults.
While we are to respect and honour our spiritual leaders they are not above being held accountable, yet there is a correct procedure to follow if it is considered necessary to confront them about issues; with humility, aim to restore and not to destroy their ministry (1 Tim 5:19,20).
A major task of a pastor is preaching/teaching. A preacher must be considerate and have a servant attitude, function as a team leader, influencing and training others as they minister the Word to fellow participants in the Kingdom of God and pilgrims on the pathway to heaven (1 Cor 1:10-17). Leaders must have the attitude that Christ is the one to be honoured with the focus on Him, not the human channels He works through; they are only signposts pointing people to Him (Jn 3:30). The Bible outlines some of the character qualifications of a spiritual leader where the emphasis is on godly lifestyle rather than knowledge or skill (1 Tim 3:1-15; Tit 1:5-9). Teachers will be judged more strictly and so it is essential to correctly understand and interpret the Bible (2 Tim 2:15; Jas 3:1; Rev 22:18,19).
Professional pastors are termed ministers or clergy in some denominations. They are not to do everything themselves, rather their role is to equip God’s people for works of service, often through co-ordination and delegation (Eph 4:12). The pastors of the early church served the people by concentrating their efforts on prayer and teaching while other Godly people were appointed to care for the administration side of the growing church (Act 6:4). In many churches today, these support roles are undertaken by other church paid staff or lay members.
Ideally, people with an apostolic and prophetic anointing should support or complement the pastor, bringing a fresh revelation of heaven’s agenda with the particular emphasis the Lord wants their church to embrace to fulfill their role in extending His Kingdom. Seasoned, high calibre believers who have a sound track record should offer to be mentors or sounding boards for their pastors.
It is the whole church’s responsibility to pray for their pastors, missionaries and spiritual leaders and provide adequate financial and emotional support together with genuine appreciation. However with small congregations and in countries where full-time Christian workers are not permitted such people can often be self-supporting, by working in a secular job and involved in Christian work after hours.
Do I regularly pray for my pastor?
Pastors care for the congregation, while they in turn should care for the pastors so they do not suffer burnout. Encourage and appreciate your pastor by praying for and supporting them, don’t complain about them.