By Barry Humble
In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, Paul outlines the various leadership roles in the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
While it is true that today in some churches those roles have been blended, the scripture indicated that each is distinct in order “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” We are going to look at the role of a pastor as a shepherd in light of the biblical passages referring to Christ as a shepherd. Upon review of scripture, we can delineate three specific actions of a shepherd. First, they are a provider. The first verse of the “Shepherd’s Psalm” says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” That is not to mean that the pastor is to fill everyone’s physical and spiritual need list but it does mean the pastor has access to resources and people that can help. It has been said that we all are beggars in this world but believers know where the bread is, that concept has to be in the pastor’s toolbox. Secondly, the shepherding pastor has to be welcoming the wanders. That means within as well as outside his or her own congregation. A welcoming spirit does not mean you always have to announce yourself as a pastor but being friendly and concerned can go along way into bringing into the fold those that have gone astray. Thirdly, the shepherding pastor is a guardian of the flock. Like Jesus, this attribute is to strengthen and protect your flock from the evil one. The pastor is responsible to create an environment that guards the flock through teaching, prayer and role modeling. All three of these actions must be delivered in an attitude of tenderness and sacrifice. Isaiah 40:11 stated, He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms
As he carries them close to his heart, he gently leads those that have young.
Jesus said in John 10:8, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
It does not get much clearer than that, a shepherd pastor has to have the best interest of his or her congregation at heart and still do the work in a tender manner.
While not every Christian is going to be a pastor, we all can be providers, welcomers, and guardians. Our responsibilities may not be as vast and comprehensive as a pastor but we all interact or could interact with at least one person every day. As we practice these three attributes we can begin to understand that their effectiveness increases when we practice with an attitude of tenderness and sacrifice. The most interesting result of this action is that it can be replicated or copied, that will continue to promote the body of Christ.
Leading with the gift of a pastor as a shepherd will enhance your ministry. It is understood that for many pastors find that they are cast in the role of administrator, preachers, and teachers. However, the shepherd part cannot be denied. It may mean that the pastor may need to find someone to take administrative or teaching responsibilities so he or she may have more time to shepherd. If shepherding is not the right fit for the pastor, then find someone in the church who can fulfill that role. Likewise, church leaders need to allow their pastor the time-space and resources to be the shepherd. In fact, church leaders need to show by their action that their pastor is the shepherd. That attitude will go a long way in helping the flock to see and experience their pastor in the same manner. Understand that church leaders will have some of the flock to shepherd as well but the pastor is the shepherd of the flock that meets at your location.