Pray for Your Pastor in Light of His Responsibilities, Part 4: Leading the Sheep

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
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
Pray for Your Pastor in Light of His Responsibilities, Part 1: The Pastor as Shepherd Leader
Pray for Your Pastor in Light of His Responsibilities, Part 2: Feeding the Sheep
Pray for Your Pastor in Light of His Responsibilities, Part 3: Protecting the Sheep

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A pastor is not only responsible to feed the sheep and protect the sheep, he is also charged with leading Christ’s sheep. Much of the pastor’s leadership will come through his preaching and teaching as he guides Christ’s people with Christ’s Word. But there are other specific areas in which the pastor must exercise leadership. He is, for example, called to set an example of godliness for the flock (1 Tim 4:12; 6:11; 2 Tim 3:10). Paul does not give pastoral qualifications to Timothy and Titus in order to exempt members of a congregation from pursuing such character qualities. Rather, God’s design for enabling his people to grow in Christlikeness is to put living examples before them, and a pastor, even imperfectly, is intended to serve as this example.

Accordingly, Paul regularly exhorted other Christians to follow his teaching and his example (1 Cor 11:1; 2 Thess 3:7, 9; 2 Tim 1:13). The author of Hebrews exhorts us to “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Heb 13:7). Good teaching is a powerful means of grace, and when it is attended by holiness in the life of the teacher, the practical effects are deep and enduring. Indeed, one of the means that God uses to enable people to see the glory of the gospel are men who have made themselves servants of the church for Christ’s sake (see 2 Cor 4:5). It is no wonder why Paul told Timothy that his people’s perseverance in the faith depended in significant measure upon Timothy paying close attention to his teaching and personal life (1 Tim 4:16).

As the pastor teaches and strives, by God’s grace (and the prayers of his people!), to live according to the truth he proclaims and counsels, he will also make it a priority to find other faithful brothers to whom he can entrust doctrine and leadership (2 Tim 2:2; see also 1 Tim 6:13, 20; 2 Tim 1:14). He will need fellow elders, faithful lay leaders, and devoted servants working in the formal capacity of deacon (1 Tim 3:8-12) and in informal capacities as well. Actually, one of the greatest blessings a pastor can enjoy is the gift of quality leaders and servants with whom he can share oversight and to whom he can entrust various practical responsibilities.

We see the importance of this division of labor in the early chapters of Acts. As the church was growing and the apostles were teaching and preaching, it soon became apparent that the practical needs in the church required specific attention. It would not be effective or beneficial for the long-term health of the church, however, for the apostles, tasked with preaching the gospel and defending the faith, to split their attention between preaching and handling the details of fulfilling these material needs. Luke records how the apostles remedied this situation.

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them (Acts 6:1-6).

In order to maintain an effective preaching ministry and make sure that their sisters in Christ had adequate material provision, the apostles delegated this table ministry to qualified, competent, Spirit-filled servants. Positive results were felt immediately: “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” (Act 6:7).

So it is today. The ministry of your local church will thrive if your pastors are able to devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and prayer and freely delegate other tasks to qualified servants. Faithfully asking God to raise up servants within your church will be one of the greatest blessings you can offer your pastor.

But it should also be clear that one of your pastor’s greatest needs in this area of leadership training and delegation is wisdom. Your pastor needs biblically-grounded, far-sighted, God-given wisdom in order to select qualified leaders and servants. While it is difficult to labor without help, it is even worse to labor with the wrong kind of help. Pray that God would give your pastor wisdom in choosing the right kind of people for the right roles.

We now turn in the next few posts to consider how we should pray in light of your pastor’s unique pressures and temptations.

Photo by Pawan Sharma on Unsplash

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