Pray for Your Pastor in Light of His Responsibilities, Part 1: The Pastor as Shepherd Leader

How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Your Pastor is a Desperate Man
How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Why Should You Pray for Your Pastor?
Praying for Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 1: The Necessity of a Qualified Ministry
Praying For Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 2: A Holy Ambition and a Holy Life
Praying for Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 3: Self-Control, Family, and Money
Praying for Your Pastor According to his Qualifications, Part 4: Humility and Teaching

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In the last few posts we learned how to pray for our pastor according to his qualifications. Because Scripture outlines the kind of character and skill an overseer must possess, I argued that we should pray for our pastor according to these biblical qualifications so that he might remain qualified for the vital work of shepherding God’s flock.

In these next few posts I will consider what Scripture teaches concerning the pastor’s roles and responsibilities so that we can pray in a way that aligns with God’s will. If we are mistaken about the kind of work to which Scripture calls pastors, our prayers may be counter-productive to what God is attempting to accomplish through their ministry.

The Pastor as Shepherd-Leader
Among the many words and phrases used to describe the pastoral role, I believe the term shepherd-leader is probably the most descriptive and comprehensive. A shepherd is one who is responsible to feed, protect, and lead sheep. In the Old Testament, God used shepherding imagery to describe how His prophets and priests were to care for his people. God even called King David a “shepherd.” “And the LORD said [to David], ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel’” (2 Sam 5:2).

Although God was the Chief Shepherd to his people in the Old Testament (Psalm 23:1), He delegated pastoral responsibilities to under-shepherds who would feed, protect, and lead His sheep according to His Word. Sadly, the history of Israel is largely a narrative of failed leadership and pastoral neglect. God’s people were scattered and ensnared in sin because, despite the presence of so-called leaders, there were no true shepherds in Israel (Ezek 34:5). Rather than serving the people, these false-shepherds were serving themselves (Ezek 34:12).

Despite the dearth of competent pastoral leadership in the Old Testament, God promised to send His people a Shepherd (singular) who would draw them back together and guide them in genuine obedience (Ezek 32:24) and shepherds (plural) after God’s own heart, ready to feed His people with “knowledge and understanding” (Jer 3:15). In time, the Good Shepherd came to His people (John 10:14).

The Good Shepherd and his Shepherds
Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus Christ rescued His sheep from the clutches of their mortal enemies—Satan, sin, and death—and brought them into the safe pastures of salvation. But just like God worked in the Old Testament with Israel, so Christ works in the New Testament with His church. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), but He has delegated pastoral responsibilities to under-shepherds who are tasked by Christ to feed, protect, and lead His sheep according to His Word (1 Peter 5:1-4; John 21:15-19).

In my judgment, the term shepherd-leader best describes the pastoral role because it provides a comprehensive heading under which every pastoral responsibility can be understood. A pastor is a shepherd-leader because he is called by Christ to feed, protect, and guide His sheep.

In the next three posts we will consider each of these areas of responsibility—feeding, protecting, and guiding—so that we might know how to best pray for the work our pastors conduct each week.

Photo by Pawan Sharma on Unsplash

 

Praying for Your Pastor According to his Qualifications, Part 4: Humility and Teaching

How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Your Pastor is a Desperate Man
How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Why Should You Pray for Your Pastor?
Praying for Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 1: The Necessity of a Qualified Ministry
Praying For Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 2: A Holy Ambition and a Holy Life
Praying for Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 3: Self-Control, Family Life, and Money

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In the previous post we considered the qualifications of pastoral self-control, a sound family life, and financial integrity. In this post we will discuss the vital pastoral qualifications of humility and a man’s ability to teach.

Qualification #7: Humility
It is no wonder that Paul would include humility in his list of qualifications for pastors (Titus 1:7). Spirit-wrought humility is a virtue apart from which no other grace can flourish. Paul knew well the truth conveyed by his apostolic colleague: “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). If a pastor nurtures a life of pride and arrogance, he will be forming a ministry to which God is directly opposed. Continue reading “Praying for Your Pastor According to his Qualifications, Part 4: Humility and Teaching”

Praying for Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 3: Self-Control, Family Life, and Money

How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Your Pastor is a Desperate Man
How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Why Should You Pray for Your Pastor?
Praying for Your Pastor in Light of His Qualifications, Part 1: The Necessity of a Qualified Ministry
Praying For Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 2: A Holy Ambition and a Holy Life

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Related to the last qualification is Paul’s requirement that the pastor exhibit self-control. The pastor is to be “sober-minded, self-controlled, [and] respectable” (1 Tim 3:2). While each of these words provide their own unique emphasis, all three carry the similar idea of self-control. The word translated here as “sober-minded” (nēphalios) can also be rendered “temperate” and can denote self-control in one’s drinking of wine. In the context, it refers to the pastor’s judgment. In his book, Biblical Eldership, Alexander Strauch comments, “Negatively, it indicates the absence of any personal disorder that would distort a person’s judgment or conduct. Positively, it describes a person who is stable, circumspect, self-restrained, and clear-headed.” Continue reading “Praying for Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 3: Self-Control, Family Life, and Money”

Praying For Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 2: A Holy Ambition and a Holy Life

How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Your Pastor is a Desperate Man
How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Why Should You Pray for Your Pastor?
Pray for Your Pastor in According to His Qualifications, Part 1: The Necessity of a Qualified Ministry

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What are the pastor’s qualifications? Fortunately, the Holy Spirit has given us a clear word on what character credentials a man must possess in order to assume the role of overseer. In straightforward, plain language, God, through the apostle Paul, provides all the instruction we need in the two passages of Scripture we’ve mentioned a few times in this chapter: 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. For the sake of concision, we will examine both passages simultaneously by grouping the qualifications in the appropriate categories. And we will begin where Paul begins: with the man’s desire for pastoral ministry. Continue reading “Praying For Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 2: A Holy Ambition and a Holy Life”

Praying for Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 1: The Necessity of a Qualified Ministry

How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Your Pastor is a Desperate Man
How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Why Should You Pray for Your Pastor?

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In order to pray for your pastor in a way consistent with God’s Word, our prayers should be shaped by what Scripture says about the qualifications, responsibilities, and unique pressures that attend the pastoral ministry. Only when we are properly informed about what the pastoral office entails will we adequately pray for our pastors.

In the next few posts we will examine specifically the pastor’s qualifications. While it is true that all Christians should pursue the character qualities listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-8 and Titus 1:5-9, each of these virtues must be in the life of the pastor in some measure. We will survey these two passages in subsequent posts, but first a word about the necessity of a qualified ministry. Continue reading “Praying for Your Pastor According to His Qualifications, Part 1: The Necessity of a Qualified Ministry”

How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Why Should You Pray for Your Pastor?

How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Your Pastor is a Desperate Man

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In the last post I noted that pastors are in desperate need of prayer. In this post, I want to accomplish two things. First, I want to ask and answer a vital question: Does the Bible teach us to pray for our pastors? It might seem like a good idea to pray for your pastor, but does God really call us to such prayer? Quick preview: Yes, He does, and we should count it a high privilege to intercede on behalf of our shepherds. Continue reading “How to Pray for Your Pastor (Series): Why Should You Pray for Your Pastor?”

How to Pray for your Pastor (Series): Your Pastor is a Desperate Man

Over the next few weeks I will be posting a series on how to pray for your pastor. This post is the first in the series. 

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You may not know it, but your pastor is a desperate man. He has been tasked by God to shepherd Christ’s sheep with wisdom, courage, and tenderness, yet he often feels his own inadequacy, timidity, and tendency toward frustration. He is responsible to care for the souls of his people by way of preaching, teaching, and counseling, a task that often includes correcting and rebuking, so your pastor senses acutely his own need for Christ’s forgiveness and sustaining mercy. His work requires that he exemplify mature Christian living, so he knows deeply his need for personal holiness. The task of rightly understanding and explaining God’s Word demands careful, pain-staking study and prayer, so your pastor feels weekly the burden to labor diligently in the text of Scripture. Continue reading “How to Pray for your Pastor (Series): Your Pastor is a Desperate Man”