Few words in the English language have more significance to me than the word “pastor.” Pastor, in the original language of the New Testament, can be translated “shepherd.” I assure you, when the apostles used that word to describe the leader of the flock of God, people understood its imagery quite well. They saw shepherds every day in the fields caring for their flocks.
Jesus used shepherds as examples in stories to communicate truth. Jesus is called the Good Shepherd. The word “shepherd” is never more powerful than when ascribed to Yahweh Himself in Psalm 23.
Pastor is an intimate word. Peter exhorts the elders of the church to “shepherd the flock of God among you.” When taken with the rest of the passage, one thing is clear—a shepherd serves the flock “in the midst.” Shepherd is a word expressing intimate knowledge of the flock and unreserved commitment to serve them. No CEO mentality here.
A shepherd cared for the sheep by leading them into green pastures for food and beside still waters to drink. The shepherd protected the flock from attack by wild animals and sought them when they went astray. The shepherd’s task could be summed up as caring, leading, and feeding the flock.
I would contend the shepherd’s task is the perfect picture to depict the task of a pastor today. A good pastor knows the condition of his flock or church. He works diligently to feed his people the truth of God’s Word, knowing that it is the truth that both nourishes them and protects them from false teachers who are like ravenous wolves seeking to devour his flock.
A pastor leads the flock to walk in the paths of righteousness. He guides his church in serving the Lord with gladness and seeks to align the congregation with the great purposes of God. His chief desire is to lead the sheep to glorify the King in their lives and in ministry.
But a pastor also cares for the flock. Each one is not just a number. The pastor walks with the sheep through dark valleys and cares for them when they run through the briar patch of life’s hardships. He cares enough to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. A pastor walks through his flock’s most significant moments in life because he cares about the sheep.
Frankly, when you consider the days in which we live and the myriad of issues a pastor must confront as he seeks to lead, feed, and care for the sheep, one must admit it is an overwhelming job requiring supernatural wisdom, love, and energy. To be a pastor in 2015 is no small task, no matter what size the church.
I engage pastors day in and day out. I see them at their best and in some of their lowest moments. I watch them weep over the condition of their flocks and watch them take blow after blow as they seek to serve their flocks. Pastors are imperfect men like the flocks they serve, but most lay down their lives for the sheep daily.
October has been set aside to honor these servants of the Lord. Pastors are the under shepherds of the flock of the Good Shepherd, and deserve our love, support, and encouragement. Today would be a good time to write a note, perform an act of kindness toward your pastor and his family, or give him a love gift that expresses your love to him.
I assure you, if you walked a day in his shoes, your love, respect, and willingness to support him would take a decisive step forward. Do something nice for your pastor this month. Bless him in the name of Jesus.