This past weekend, Janet and I had the opportunity to attend a pastor & spouse retreat in Texas hill country. It was a rejuvenating weekend.
Prior to the weekend, we were assigned a bit of homework – to list ten things it is imperative every pastor brings to his church. After a bit of contemplation, here is my list.
I share with you so MABC knows what to expect from me as their pastor. Of course, I am less than perfect – so I don’t always perfectly do them. However, I am striving to meet these biblical expectations of a pastor.
1 Peter 5:2-3
Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
Based on Peter’s teachings, a pastor is to:
- Protect (Shepherd the flock)
A pastor fulfills this obligation by being a prophetic voice of the pulpit. It is his responsibility to tell the truth, even when it is most difficult, to his congregation.
Included in this responsibility is a protection of the theology of the church – often this shows up as warnings against false teachings and as explanations of the truth according to God’s Word.
Last, the pastor has a responsibility to call his people to repentance when sin is detected.
- Lead (Exercise Oversight)
One of the most important responsibilities of the pastor is to lead the church. He does so by prayerfully setting vision for the church to fulfill the mission of the church in its community.
The pastor then sets the direction to fulfill that vision, communicating the vision, and empowering staff, deacons, and key leaders to achieve the vision & fulfill God’s mission of the church.
- Be Willing (not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you)
The pastor must be willing to lead the church. To do so, he needs to remember the calling of God on his life. Jesus’ words in Luke 9:62 come to mind, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” While God may call a pastor to some other role in God’s kingdom, in the meantime, the pastor must remember the calling God placed on his life. This calling should fuel a passion to pastor.
- Be Selfless (not for shameful gain)
Pastors must be selfless. The church does not exist for the pastor’s fame or for personal enrichment. It’s all about God’s kingdom, not the pastor’s personal dynasty.
- Be Eager (but eagerly)
A pastor should never rest on his laurels. Instead, to borrow a phrase from a mentor, Tommy Teague, the pastor must be a life-long learner. He should be eager to improve, eager to lead, and eagerly follow Christ.
- Do not domineer (not domineering over those in your charge)
Simply stated, a pastor that is a jerk is a pastor failing God’s expectations of him. Instead, the pastor should cultivate a team, not micro-manage, but instead empower and release leaders. Of course, he should inspect what he expects, but never humiliate those who fail. Accountability is important – and the pastor should hold himself, and allow others, to hold him accountable.
- Lead by example (being examples to the flock)
As a follower of Christ, the pastor must take Christ’s words to heart – that the savior we follow came to this earth to serve, not to be served. So too must the pastors of the church.
As an example to the flock, the pastor must lead from the front – not from his office or the pulpit. So the pastor must share the gospel, must be an example of a life following Christ, and an example of repentance when falling short or forgiveness when others fall short.
The apostle Paul also speaks of obligations of pastors. Below are two passages with brief explanations of the last three expectations.
1 Timothy 5:17 – 18
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
- Preach & Teach
Pastors must consistently preach God’s Word. The content must come from the text and be driven by the text, not the pastor’s opinion. As 2 Timothy 4:3 reminds us, the pastor is responsible to teach the truth, even when it is hard to say or hear, and fails when the sermon merely “tickles the ears” of the hearer.
This responsibility should be a labor of delight in the preaching and teaching of the Scripture.
- Earn your wages
The pastor must be a hard worker, one who earns his pay. The church is obligated to ensure the wages match the hard work, experience, and education of the pastor. If the church is led by a lazy bum of a pastor, you should find another church!
Included in this is the responsibility of the pastor to be faithful and diligent in his tasks, entrusting Christ to grow the church. (Matthew 16:18)
1 Timothy 3:4-5
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?
- Love & lead your family
This is the most important responsibility of the pastor. He should love his wife, love his children, and discipline them well & appropriately. The pastor should lead his family in the faith as well as be present in their life. Pastors – be there for your wife and kids!
Of course, no pastor is perfect. I will fall short of these obligations, at times, and will be under the conviction of the Spirit.
But this is the target to strive for – to be the very best pastor I can be for Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church & trust Jesus to build our church.