What's a Pastor Do, Anyway?

I've been asked the question a thousand times in a thousand different ways, from the person who knows little about church and thinks I just stand up and talk on Sundays to the person who imagines I simply pray all day long in my office, read the Bible, and have spiritual thoughts.  It's a question that deserves some exploration.

You might know the word "pastor" is derived from the Latin word for "shepherd".  Today, it's come to mean a minister in charge of leading a Christian congregation.  Some of the principal passages dealing with "shepherds" are in Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:1-5, and Ephesians 4:11ff.

In general, pastors lead the flock of God.  That involves directing, counseling, teaching, preaching, planning and seeking God for vision or direction for the congregation.  This means that I spend a lot of time in meetings and in thinking about the future.  As I seek to hear from God through prayer, the Bible, mentors, etc., I am constantly asking God what he wants to say to our church and where he would have us go.

At our church there are several pastors on the staff, but I am their leader.  My general expectation of a pastor is that he or she is helping more and more people in our congregation find a place in ministry. Some of our pastors teach or preach or counsel, but all of them are looking for opportunities to involve a growing number of people in the church in the work of the ministry.  That's what Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11-12, "God gave...pastors...to equip his people for works of service..."

I really believe that the most successful pastors are people who inspire and equip the people of the congregation to do "the work" of the ministry.  "Ministry" comes from the Latin word ministerium, meaning "service", in case you were wondering what the connection is.

God made the church to be a "body", distributing gifts and abilities throughout the diverse group that makes up a congregation.  My job as a pastor is not to try and be the best at all those gifts, but to see the maximum number of people involved in serving and carrying out the work of the body of Christ. If a pastor is doing his job well, he's not the only person who visits the sick, leads people to Christ, or guides people down the path of discipleship; that is the work of the congregation the pastor leads.

To me, what I do is really exciting, fulfilling work, and this is what I do.

Labels: , , , , , ,