What should a Pastor be? – Part 4

I’ve given it a bit more thought and I actually DID have more to say on this subject of what a Pastor should be.  Today, as I was reading through 1 Peter 5 in preparation for my next sermon at CCOL, I realized that it has a TON to say about what a church leader should be – and thankfully, my convictions mirrored what it was saying – so, I’ll babble on a bit more about this issue…

#4 – Humble

Let’s just walk through the passage from 1 Peter 5, shall we?

1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;

  • A shepherd was one of the lowliest positions in the society of that day.  Isn’t it interesting, from that perspective, that church leaders are referred to as shepherds?  Shepherding was not/is not a glamorous job (does that sound like the pastors you know?  Pastors who come off as celebrities scare me a bit…).  Shepherding was dirty, difficult, and demanding.  That sounds like the kind of pastoral ministry that gets in the muck and mire of life’s difficulties alongside the sheep – not staying aloof…as I’ve mentioned before…  it takes a good deal of humility to be involved with people to that degree.  It takes a great deal of humility to not care how the people of the church view you because you are getting dirty with the other, perhaps-less-than-desirable-sheep.
  • Did you notice that the flock is “under the care” of the shepherd?  Sounds pretty obvious but think of the implication.  The shepherd is supposed to actually care for the sheep.  People who are proud don’t typically care about others – their beliefs, concerns, feelings, attitudes, lives, etc.  How does that stack up against the Pastors you know?  I’m saddened to even have to imply that PASTORS perhaps don’t really care about those under their leadership – but it is a mournful reality in some cases.
  • Serving – he mentions it twice.  Servants serve, rulers don’t.  There’s such a subtle but important attitudinal shift in realizing that fact.  If a person, pastor or not, has trouble serving – then they are having an attitude that is more akin to that of a “ruler” or “dominant” person in the relationship.  It’s a pretty natural tendency for us humans – to want to be the top dog, numero uno, big kahuna, etc.  But that’s NOT to be the nature of leadership in the church.  Read on… there’s a good deal more to notice…

3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

  •  “not lording it over” – Wow!  That’s a pretty strong mental image to me.  I imagine a dictator or tyrant, imposing his will or opinion on those who are under his control.  Does that sound familiar?  Any pastors in your past who would fit that description?  That is NOT to be the role, attitude, or method of a Pastor or other church leader.  If you ever hear church leaders saying something along the lines of “because I’m the Pastor” then an enormous, frantically waving red flag should pop up immediately!  A pastor is to serve the flock in humility – not imposing things or demanding things.  He should be working WITH people who need to be brought to a level of understanding or cooperation that may not be easy to get them to.  It’s kind of like what has to happen in parenting – somebody (the parent hopefully) has to be the adult and take the responsibility to work out things in the right way (not necessarily the easy way).  It’s no fun most of the time – but that’s what a pastor signs up for!
  • “entrusted to you” – the job of a Pastor/church leader is a trust, a stewardship if you will.  A steward is a manager, not an owner.  He is not to possess or control the trust for his own benefit or ego, he is to manage it for the overall good of the Master.  A proud person can’t do that – he’ll want his fingers in every piece of the pie… and his initials monogrammed on it… and a copyright for the recipe…
  • “being examples to the flock” – the implication is that the leader is to exemplify the way to handle relationships, leadership, teamwork, humility.  He’s not to put himself “above the law” or outside the realm of accountability.  I’ve known of pastors who would raise cain about a church secretary using the office postage meter to send out a few letters when he does it himself week after week – and thinks nothing of it.  The secretary was just doing what he had DEMONSTRATED was O.K. to do.  It shouldn’t be that way.  He’s supposed to embody what an everyday, average, common Christian is supposed to look like.  That’s a pretty tall order… but again, it’s what he signed on for…

 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

  • Jesus – our example – is spoken of as the “Chief Shepherd.”  We just can’t get away from that imagery, can we?  If He’s a shepherd then how can we purport or expect to be anything more lavish or extravagant as church leaders? 
  • Leading a church the way God instructs brings rewards on a God-sized scale.  We could (but won’t) debate if we’re talking about literal crowns here, but it should be enough to say that something big is ahead for those who follow the leadership guidelines that God has laid down…

Making it practical

We could talk about this all day and never really see our actions as church leaders change if we don’t stop and put these truths into some real-life situations so we can “try on” these concepts.  Here’s a couple from experience that come right to mind…

  1. Some of the sheep bite – what should a humble shepherd do then? – People can be petty, weird, complaining, devisive, even plain old mean at times.  It’s not that they are always being antagonistic on purpose – many of them simply haven’t had that particular piece of their flesh trimmed away yet.  A shepherd who hasn’t gotten the humility thing going yet will respond badly – and I mean BADLY when a little lamb bites him!  Defensiveness, anger, rage, retaliation, pettiness-in-return, none of it is beneath a Pastor who has too much ego on the line.  Chew on this one my fellow pastors:  If Christ has called you to this role and He has told you to shepherd this flock and He’s shown you the RIGHT way to do it – isn’t HE sufficient to take up your cause when necessary?  If so, then why should you?
  2. Protecting your position – is it really such a good idea? – I didn’t just start this Pastoral gig – I know that people can be vindictive at times and actually go for the Pastor’s job when he’s not done anything that would warrant such a response (nawww!!!)!  I know, hard to believe, but it happens sometimes.  A pastor who is too proud (can I say “full of himself” as opposed to “full of the Spirit?”) will begin erecting walls of defense to protect his position instead of humbling himself to learn, grow, and let the Lord use him – even in this difficult situation.  Sounds an awful lot like some Pharisees we are familiar with…  (Did I just compare a PASTOR to the Pharisees?  Hey, if the shoe fits…)
  3. Appearances become way too important – Again our Pharisees are a good example of this.  Jesus said they worried a LOT about how they appeard to people but inside were not the real deal at all.   That’s what a lack of proper humility does to us.  It makes us focus on what is not important (what people think about us) and neglect what is truly important (what is really going on inside of us).   When a church leader is humble enough to admit (yes, even openly to his church family) that he doesn’t have it all together, when he’s humble enough to share the credit for ministry successes, when he’s willing to listen to the ideas of others and (gasp) actually implement the ones that are good – then he’s not only being an example to the flock, he’s also growing in HIS faith.  Pastors need that too you know…

O.K., that’s enough for today… I look forward to your ideas… so feel free…

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