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
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