Being a pastor is a great privilege. The Bible tells us,  This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” (I Timothy 3:1). It is a good thing to desire to serve God as a pastor in His church. (God give us some men —  young and older  — who would have such a desire!) Yet, being a pastor carries with it great responsibility toward God’s people.

God, in His grace, has given me the privilege of being a pastor for several years. From the outset, the burden of being a pastor was very real to me. Through the years, God has grown me in understanding what it truly means to be a pastor and what my primary responsibilities are as a pastor.

Many people are confused about what a pastor really is and what God has called  him to do. To some, a pastor is just a preacher. To others, a pastor is the one who “marries and buries” people. The Bible describes for us exactly what spiritual leadership responsibilities God has given to a pastor.

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation…Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give an account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you…Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints.  (Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24)

Because so many do not truly understand the importance of the role of the pastor, many people live without allowing a man of God to be their pastor. Yet, when we begin to understand the spiritual role God has given to pastors, it becomes clear why it is so important to allow your pastor to be a pastor to you. 

So, from these same verses, let’s consider why each one of us needs to allow our pastor to carry out these spiritual responsibilities on our behalf. From these verses, let’s consider seven areas of spiritual leadership God gives to a pastor.

The Pastor is to Feed the Flock (v.7).

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God” (v.7)

It is the pastor’s primary responsibility to ensure that God’s people are being nourished by God’s Word. This is reiterated in many others places in Scripture.

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  (Acts 20:28)

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  (I Peter 5:2)

The pastor instructed by God to preach THE WORD. God has not commanded the man of God to preach his own word, but to preach God’s Word.

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word…    (II Timothy 4:1-2a)

We are instructed to honor the spiritual authority in our lives because they have been entrusted to communicate God’s Word to us. Thus, one of the best ways you can allow your Pastor to pastor you is by letting him preach and teach God’s Word to you. (And that means you must be in church when he does so!

The Pastor is to Lead the Flock (v.7).

Remember them which have the rule over you…whose faith follow” (v.7)

One of the titles the Bible gives to a Pastor is “bishop.” This is a term that means the pastor is to be the overseer of the church.

This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  (I Timothy 3:1)

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  (Acts 20:28)

The Pastor operates as an under-shepherd, appointed by the Holy Spirit, to lead God’s people under the direction of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. The church is not the Pastor’s to lead however He wants. Every man of God is responsible to lead God’s people as God leads Him to do so.

It is of Jesus that it is written,  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).

I believe with all my heart that every pastor (and every spiritual leader) will one day have to stand before Jesus Christ Himself to give an account for how they executed the great responsibility that was given them to oversee His Church.

God reminded pastors that “when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (I Peter 5:4).

Every person ought to have a pastor they can go to for spiritual leadership. Go to your pastor for counsel. Let him give you insight from God’s Word in every major decision you make in life. In this way, you can let your Pastor pastor you!

The Pastor is to Intercede for the Flock (v.17).

In the early days of the church, with the growth that was being experienced, there arose a great amount of “details” that had to be taken care of. These things included such things as taking care of the widows and those in need. With the increase of responsibility for the church, it became necessary for men to be appointed to serve by ensuring that these practical needs were being met. (We call these men “deacons” today.) In particular, take note of why the Apostles felt the need to delegate these responsibilities to these men.

Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  (Acts 6:2-4)

The spiritual leaders of the church recognized prayer and preaching as two of their primary responsibilities    ones that absolutely could not be neglected.

One of the primary responsibilities that God has given to a Pastor is to pray for the membership of the church. There are some battles that can only be won on our knees. God has called the pastor to labor for God’s people on his knees.

One of the best ways you can allow your pastor to pastor you is by letting him know how to pray for you. Confide in your pastor. Tell him how to pray for you specifically. Ask him for counsel.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  (James 5:13-16)

The Pastor is to Have a Faith Worthy of Following (v.7).

Remember them which have the rule over you…considering the end of their conversation.” (v.7)

Though God gives the pastor authority to lead God’s people spiritually, He does not do so without accountability. In 1 Peter 5:3, God instructs the pastor of His church in this way:  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” The pastor is to lead the church by example. His authority should not have to be expected, it ought to be earned. It ought not be demanded, but desired by the people God has put under his spiritual care.

This is one of the reason that God has given specific qualifications for a man who would be a pastor. It is not something that just anyone can do. Being a pastor is a privilege only for those who would seek, by God’s enabling, to lead their own lives in such a way so that God could use their lives to lead others.

Only God can truly produce this caliber of spiritual leadership in a man’s life! 

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;” (1 Timothy 1:12)

The Pastor is to Fend for the Flock (v.17).

Obey them that have the rule over you…for they watch for your souls” (v.17) 

Just as it is the responsibility of a shepherd to watch out for predators that would sneak into the fold and steal away sheep, so it is the responsibility of the pastor as the under-shepherd to fend for God’s people.

Paul warned about the “wolves” that would enter into God’s church: 

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:28-29)

It is the pastor’s responsibility to fight off these wolves of false doctrine, false prophets, and strife-causers.

Sometimes your Pastor may do something that doesn’t make sense to you. But, remember, he is responsible to look after your spiritual well-being! Allow him to caution you about potential dangers in your life.

The Pastor is to Follow-up on the Flock (v.17).

Obey them that have the rule over you…for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief:” (v.17)

God gives to the pastor the responsibility of keeping track of the spiritual condition of the people under his ministry.  This is carried out in several ways.

It is the pastor’s responsibility to seek out the lost sheep. Jesus told us that there are still “other sheep” who have not yet been added to God’s fold. It is the pastor’s responsibility to lead the church in seeking and bringing them in.

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

It is also the pastor’s responsibility to seek out the wandering sheep. As much as there is a front door to every church, there is a back door as well. And while many new people are coming in the front door, there are existing members who are trying to quietly sneak out the back door. It is the pastor’s duty to lead the church in seeking out those who are wandering and restore them.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.      (Galatians 6:1)

It is the pastor’s responsibility to care for the sick sheep. Sometimes hardship overtakes members of the church. Whether it be physical illness, financial difficulty, relationship conflict, or sin issues, there are a plethora of causes for God’s people to become “sick” and be in need of care or counsel. God has called the pastor to tend to the needs of those who are the hurting.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  (James 1:27)

You can let your pastor be your pastor by allowing him to confront you when you wander, care for you when you are hurting, or counsel you when you are in need of direction. Remember, that is why God has given you a Pastor!

The Pastor is to Fellowship with the Flock (v.24).

Salute all them that have the rule over you,” (v.24)

Just as Christ modeled self-less love for His sheep, God expects His under-shepherd, the pastor, to love them.

…even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Ephesians 5:25)

One of the qualifications God has given for a pastor is that he be a man who is hospitable.

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach:  (I Timothy 3:2)

The pastor ought to regularly be finding opportunities to spend time with the people in his congregation and his community. He ought not be an island to himself. A man told me about pastoring, “A true shepherd will smell like His sheep.” A real Pastor ought to know His people and His people ought to know him. Mystique is not a part of God’s vocabulary when it comes to pastoring.

One of the best ways you can allow your pastor to be your pastor is by intentionally involving yourself in his life. Call him. Write him an encouraging note. Make a point to get by to greet him every week. (Keep in mind, it is often very difficult for the pastor to get around to greet everyone in the congregation every week before they leave the church building after a service.)

Conclusion

God makes it clear in His Word that a pastor is one of His gifts to the church.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  (Ephesians 4:11-12)

If God has blessed you with a man whom you call “Pastor,” allow him to be the man God has called Him, equipped him, and given him to be for you.