There are many aspects to pastoral ministry. All aspects are of equal importance. Put together and working in harmony with one another, each aspect creates a complete pastoral ministry. I’d like to take some time to examine each of the following aspects of pastoral ministry: shepherding, teaching, oversight, and evangelizing. The first aspect to consider is that of shepherding.
The pastor is often referred to as the shepherd of the flock. As a shepherd the pastor is responsible to do several things for the flock. First of all, he is to feed the flock. We find this mentioned in 1 Peter 5:2. Feeding the flock refers to the teaching ministry of the pastor. I will not take too much time to elaborate on this as we will look at the teaching aspect in a later post. However, it needs to be understood that the pastor has the responsibility to teach the flock the Word of God. As a pastor, I take this responsibility very seriously. I am very humbled by the weight of responsibility that I have to stand in the pulpit week end and week out and be God’s mouthpiece to God’s people. I have a responsibility to teach the flock the full counsel of God’s Word. This is why I am a huge proponent of expository preaching. I believe that we should study the Bible verse by verse and let the Word of God speak for itself. It is through such teaching that the church grows to spiritual maturity.
As a shepherd, the pastor is also to protect the flock. In many places in the New Testament we see warnings given concerning false teachers. A good pastor will be one who is protective of the pulpit. It is a dangerous thing to allow false doctrine to creep into the church. When the pastor hears false teaching or misinterpretation of the scriptures amongst the flock, he must carefully point out the error and teach the people the truth. The protection of the flock also includes protecting the flock from disunity and the sins that divides the church. A good pastor is one who is consistently listening for negativity and bad attitudes in order to provided encouragement and direction. Sometimes the pastor has the difficult job of aggressively taking the staff of God’s Word to pull the flock away from danger.
A third part of shepherding is caring for the flock or tending to their wounds. Sometimes there are members of the flock that are wounded by circumstances such as health issues. In these cases, the pastor should engage those who are hurting by visiting them and praying with them. Sometimes there are those who are wounded by the world. Perhaps they are being persecuted on the job or they are dealing with overwhelming temptations. Here, the pastor should lovingly take the healing oil of God’s Word to encourage them and to give them the tools they need to overcome. Sadly, there are times when the sheep will injure each other. Disagreements, resentment, hateful words, and many other such things will cause severe injury to the church and must not be ignored. The pastor must work hard to bring people together and help them to forgive each other and work out their differences. The area of caring for the flock requires a great deal of patience and understanding on the part of the pastor.
A final part of shepherding has to do with leading the flock. As a shepherd, the pastor is to lead the church down the path that is best for them. This requires having a vision and a passion for the work. Sometimes such leading is met with resistance. In such cases the pastor does well to slowly pull the flock along showing them that the path he is leading them on is right and good.
I am sure I could elaborate more on the aspect of shepherding. Serving in pastoral ministry is very challenging, yet very rewarding. It is my desire to be the kind of shepherd that is pleasing to God. In our next post on the ministry of the pastor, we will examine the aspect of the pastor as a teacher.