The next manifestation of leadership is pastoral. It is a wise choice that one of the manifestations for pastoral ministry is pastoral. Pastor is a word that has been melted down to nothing more than a title. It seems to be synonymous with being a member of the clergy. I’ve always been fascinated by pastors who refer to themselves as pastor so-and-so even when they are not my pastor. Ultimately, pastor is about a relationship not a title. Pastor really means shepherd. As our society becomes less agrarian and more urban the concept of shepherd is not as widely understood. A sheppard was in charge of sheep. Sheep are not very bright. They wander off and have no built-in instinct to find their way back. They are rather defenseless against all prey. They are neither fast nor mean, they don’t even growl. Sheep are vulnerable. No sheep ever says, ‘I think I’m going to get a lost today,’ they start nibbling grass and nibbling little bit more and before you know it they nibble their way to lostness. Did I mention that throughout the Bible, people are compared with sheep? Do you see the comparisons? Vulnerable, defenseless, helpless, yes and not very bright! Thus of all the things the sheep need they need a shepherd. They don’t need just more education, superior fighting skills, or GPS. They need a shepherd.
Being a pastor may not seem to be very high on the list of sought-after professions. Yet, few in this world do more important work than pastors. So far in this series we have talked about vision, motivating, strategizing and directing. Pastor friend you may do all of the aforementioned things with tremendous skill and dexterity. But if you are not a pastor, you will never make it in the local church. As I reflect back over my years, the folks who had the greatest impact on my life have been my pastors. They loved me, nurtured me, corrected me and blessed me in ways large and small. I would not be where I am today if it were not for the love and care of godly pastors! Pastors, do not buy into the values of the world, yours is not a job it is a calling! Don’t be a pastor if you’re not called to do so, but if you’ve been called, do not ever stoop to do anything else! The church needs you and the people you serve need you. One of the wonders in this world is the fact that the people we most need and depend upon are very often the people we do not thank or share our appreciation for what they mean in our lives! Whether or not anyone says thank you, I want to say thank you pastor. I love you, God knows your service, your commitment and your faithfulness and He has promised to reward you.
Since these manifestations are not given in any particular order allow me to make an editorial comment: if you are a pastor you must manifest pastoral leadership. It is essential. I know that pastoring is a calling I believe that wholeheartedly. But there are certain pastoral skills that with God’s help you can improve. For instance, you can take time to notice people, pray for people, and encourage the folks. Everyone deserves a pastor who loves them. Everyone deserves a pastor who believes in them. If the people in your church are convinced that you love God and you love them, they will overlook a lot of things. They will give you the benefit of the doubt. I know some people are unreasonable and no matter how hard you try and no matter what you do, you will never succeed in winning them over. I have been there I understand. Remember there’s a great host of people around you who if you love them and model Christlike servanthood, they will love you. It is quite easy to get discouraged in pastoral ministry with its long hours and little appreciation. Much of the work is done behind the scenes. Some of the folks that you invest the most time in will be some of the first folks to turn against you, malign you, spread rumors about you and say all manner of hurtful things. Love them anyway. Pray for them, and in your praying, ask God to give you grace to love your people. Whatever kind of a person you have in your church I had one or more just like them. I know how difficult it is to hear these words but listen to me dear pastor a shepherd loves sheep and cares for folks who don’t care for them or love them back in return, by doing so you are not only modeling what it means to be a pastor you are modeling what it means to be a Spirit- filled Christian!
I cannot think of any pastor I had, or pastors I have known without smiling. I smile because their sacrificial love and commitment to Christ and their flock spur me on today to keep walking in faith and to not give up. Pastor do not be hesitant to show and share and communicate your love for your flock. Every week when you gather, you are looking into the faces of those whose hearts are broken. Some are two steps beyond loneliness and the battles of life have left them scarred and discouraged. Make a difference and be the loving kind shepherd God has called you to be. I know that being a shepherd involves correcting, rebuking and discipline. But could we at least agree that the heart of pastoral ministry is love. Pastor you really don’t owe the people at church anything except to love them as Christ loved the church. You can do it! God has called you! He will equip you, go and shepherd the flock.
Thanks Pastor for your love and your concern and most of all thanks for your sanctified patience. You are making a difference