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The title of my message today is “The Shepherd: The Biblical role of
the Pastor”. As you can imagine this is something I have been thinking a
lot about over the last year.
One of the questions I am often asked is what I do for a job. And
once I tell them I am a Pastor all sorts of questions arise. So what do
you do during the week? Have you got another real job? Who pays you? You
only work on Sunday for an hour don’t you?
One of the best descriptions of a Pastor that I have heard is comes
from Canon J. John in the UK. He often travels on planes and people ask
him what he does. He says he works for a global enterprise that has been
around for a long time with outlets on every continent and in every
city. He says we are involved in hospitals and healthcare, schools and
universities, involved in food programs and helping the homeless,
dealing with people from birth to death, we spend all our profits on
making people better people and we are involved in long term behavioral
alteration. Then when they ask what company it is, he says “The church”.
We all have our ideas what a Pastor does or what a Pastor should do.
If we asked all of us we would probably say things like preach, teach,
care for people, counseling, do good deeds, reach out to others,
visitation, marry and bury people, give our practical help like food
parcels. And we would be right.
I think it is important for us all to understand what the Bible says
about a Pastor is and the role he plays in and for the church and the
role the Bible calls them to be accountable for.
1. Equipping the church for the work of ministry
The first role of a Pastor is an equipping role. They are to equip
the church in works of service. This is the major focus according to the
Church of Christ head office.
Ephesians 4:11-13 – It was he who gave some to be apostles,
some to be prophets, some to be evangelists,
and some to be pastors and teachers,
12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of
Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in
the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the
whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
These roles in the church are known as the four-fold ministries or
the five-fold ministries depending on what church tradition you are
from. Some traditions group Pastor and Teacher into one. Some separate
them. These five roles are there to “prepare God’s people for works of
1 Cor. 12:28 – to be sent forth to new frontiers with the gospel,
providing leadership over church bodies and maintaining authority over
spiritual matters pertaining to the church.
1 Cor. 12:10;
Eph. 4:11 – to speak forth the message of God to His people. This
can be one on one, to a church group in the case of someone speaking in
church or through a sermon.
Eph. 4:11 – to be a messenger of the good news of the Gospel. People
with the gift of evangelism are always thinking about bring people to
Christ and are able to teach others how to share their faith.
Eph. 4:11 – to be responsible for spiritually caring for,
protecting, guiding, and feeding a group of believers entrusted to one’s
1 Cor. 12:28;
Eph. 4:11 – to instruct others in the Bible in a logical, systematic
way so as to communicate pertinent information for true understanding
The primary ways the Pastor/Teacher equips the church is through
preaching, setting a godly example in living and through things like
God wants us to grow and mature in our faith and He uses our own
personal Bible reading and the teaching of Pastors we hear in church. I
have grown so much and learnt so much from my Pastors over the years. I
wouldn’t be the person who stands before you if it wasn’t for them. I am
so thankful to God for them.
It is interesting to note that the word Pastor only appears once in
the New Testament. However, the Greek word Poimen, is used in a number
of places. In the other places it is translated as shepherd.
The primary role of the Pastor is to equip the church for the works
2. Shepherding and Overseeing the church
The second role mentioned in the Bible for a Pastor is shepherding
and overseeing the church.
1 Peter 5:2-4 – 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; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples
to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will
receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
This is the second key role of being a Pastor or Elder in the church.
In most Churches of Christ, the Pastor becomes one of the Elders of the
church. In our case that means Robbie, Tom, Matt P, Matt BL and myself
are Elders or overseers. So, we are called by God to shepherding the
flock that is under our care. So, who are the flock? Those who are
connected to the church. The Greek word is the local body of believers.
So, the Pastors / Elders responsibility is primarily to the church
As we saw earlier the Greek work for Pastor is Poimen and this can be
Pastor or Shepherd.
Two other closely related words are poimano which means shepherding
and poimnion which means flock.
As you can see on the screen – the Pastor/Shepherd (poimen),
shepherds (poimano) the flock (poimnion).
So how does the shepherd oversee the flock and care for them? Each
church is different and has different focuses. But common aspects of
preaching and teaching of the Word, preparing and attending Bible
studies, prayer for the church and congregation individually, spending
time with people in small groups and one on one visitation, more
recently connecting via social media, working with the Elders to keep
the church on track.
This is the second role of the Pastor Shepherd.
Now I want to move on to some examples of good and bad shepherds.
3. Ezekiel’s example of Good and Bad Shepherds
In my Pastoral Care unit at Bible College we looked at some examples
of good and bad shepherds. In
Ezekiel 34 it gives us a guide to what good and bad pastoral care
Ezekiel was told to prophesy against the shepherds of Israel that
were taking care of themselves and not the people.
Ezekiel 34:1-5 are the negative examples.
Ezekiel 34:1-5 – Then this message came to me from the LORD: 2
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give
them this message from the Sovereign LORD: What sorrow awaits you
shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t
shepherds feed their sheep? 3 You drink the milk, wear the wool,
and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. 4
You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or
bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have
wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness
and cruelty. 5 So My sheep have been scattered without a shepherd,
and they are easy prey for any wild animal.
All in all, this is a pretty bad picture of how they were taking care
of the flock. They were selfish and not doing what they were meant to be
doing. You can see why God has asked Ezekiel to speak out against them.
The bad shepherds focused on themselves.
In the latter part of the chapter God says that He Himself is going
to care for the people. In this He says what He is going to do.
Ezekiel 34:16-22 gives us some good examples.
22 – I will search for My lost ones who strayed away, and I will
bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen
the weak. … 22 So I will rescue My flock, and they will no longer be
abused. I will judge between one animal of the flock and another.
In this simple picture of good and bad shepherds we see what God
wants and expects from Pastors and shepherds. He wants them to care for,
watch out for and strengthen the flock. And they are to do this with
justice and a selfless motivation.
Good shepherds focus on God and others.
4. The Good Shepherd
Another great passage in the Bible that talks about shepherds and
John 10:1-16 – “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not
enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a
thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the
shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him,
and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and
leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on
ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away
from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6
Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand
what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very
truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come
before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to
them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.
They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes
only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good
shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is
not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So, when he sees the wolf
coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the
flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired
hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd;
I know my sheep and my sheep know me– 15 just as the Father knows me and
I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have
other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They
too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one
Some key things that stand out in this passage are…
I love this analogy of the shepherd and the sheep pen. The shepherd
cares for his sheep and provides safety. By day he leads them to food
and water and at night he takes them back to the pen. There is also
aspect of inspecting the sheep as they came in at night. The shepherd
would check each sheep over as it went into the pen. He would then tend
to their wounds if required.
The pen was often a simple brick wall or a cave and the shepherd
would sleep at the entrance. Anyone wanting to get to the sheep would
have to get past the shepherd first.
To me, Jesus’ example of the Good Shepherd is the bar that all
Pastors should strive for. The dot points on the screen give some great
examples to follow. Of course the Pastor will not lay down his life for the
sheep in the same way Jesus did, but he should strive to live selflessly
in service of his church.
So in closing, these are the two things that the Bible charges the
Pastor with as their responsibility.
1. Equipping the church for the work on ministry (Ephesians
2. Shepherding and overseeing the flock that is entrusted to them. (1
We also looked at some examples of…
3. Good and bad shepherds (Ezekiel
4. The example of the Good Shepherd Jesus. (John
By Dave Quinn
Founder of PASSIONAustralia.org
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