This is the fifth article in my introduction to the five equipping ministries of Ephesians 4. Today we will take a brief look at the ministry of the pastor. As the ministry of the pastor is arguably the most recognizable of the equipping ministries, I will use this article to focus on aspects of the pastoral ministry that are not as commonly emphasized.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow my all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23 (NKJV)
As Christians, we look to the Lord foremost as our Great Shepherd. Jesus alone can lead us to true satisfaction. In Him there is eternal joy and pleasure. In Him, we also see characteristics of the pastoral ministry. When Jesus invites one of His disciples into pastoral ministry, He is inviting the disciple into fellowship with God’s desire to Shepherd (guide) the Church into peace, restoration, and righteousness.
Throughout the process of equipping a pastor for ministry, the Holy Spirit works to call forth the character of righteousness. Maturity in the pastoral ministry requires a steadfast commitment to seeking first the righteousness of Christ. While this can be said about all ministries in the Church, this is significant to pastoral ministry for purpose of nurturing genuine peace and restoration in the flock of God’s people.
When the pastor is effectively nurturing righteousness in the flock, we see the evidence (spiritual fruit) presented so clearly in Psalm 23. While the response is ultimately in the hands of the flock, when the pastor calls forth righteousness in God’s people, the Church is equipped to be confident and without fear in the face of evil.
The pastor calls forth spiritual disciplines in a proper context. When understood rightly, spiritual disciplines actually position us to cultivate Christ’s character. When we cultivate the likeness of Christ, we become more comfortable in His presence, and our fellowship with Him increases.
One unique calling upon the pastor is the role of ‘feeding the flock’. If we notice how Jesus ‘feeds the flock’ in Psalm 23, He does so by leading them to green pastures and still (pure;peaceful) water. He also ‘feeds’ His flock by preparing a feast for His disciples in the presence of their enemies. He not only fills (anoints), but He gives an overflow. In short, this means that the pastor’s responsibility is to provide sound doctrine (green pastures), a faithful and steady example (still water), fellowship and encouragement in the face of trial or persecution (table in the presence of enemies), and an opportunity to serve (anointing that overflows).
Too often, pastors try to do too much when it comes to ‘feeding the flock’. This is often a result of one of two different scenarios. Either, the pastor is unable to present truth to their Church in a manner so that they can learn and seek God for themselves, or the congregation is lazy and refuses to use the spiritual tools given to them. We need to learn how to identify and correct these things in a manner that is uplifting, restorative, and honest. As the Church, we should endeavor to serve so that the burden on our pastors and leaders is lighter, and as pastors and leaders, we need to learn how to equip the Church to serve and seek Christ.
You know the saying, “Give a man a fish…” The goal of the pastoral ministry is not set in place that you may ‘eat’ on Sundays, but rather that you have the tools to ‘eat’ all the days of your life.
Blessings and grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
-J. S. Marek