This series, The Role of the Pastor, comes from a study that we’ve been doing on Wednesday nights at Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins, GA.
We continue the series on The Role of the Pastor. This is a four-part series that covers four major roles of a pastor: love, lead, protect and feed. In my last post, I covered how the pastor is to love the people. In this post, we’ll discover how the pastor is to lead the people.
Remember, the objective standard for defining the pastor’s role and responsibility is the Word of God – not my opinion, or your opinion, or the opinion of any denomination. The Bible gives the objective standard for the role of the pastor.
1 Peter 5:1-4 says, “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”
One thing I notice about this particular text is that each of the three Greek words mentioned in last wee’s post that describe the function of a pastor appear here: elder- presbuteros, overseer- episkopos and shepherd- poimen. We’ll look at three truths from this passage concerning how the pastor is to lead the people that God has entrusted to him.
1. The pastor’s association: 1
When you read the word “association” don’t think your local Baptist association or convention. Instead, consider the wonderful encouragement offered from other pastors with whom you are associated. Peter says in verse 1 that he is a “fellow elder.” When I read those two words it almost seems as if Peter is saying, I’m in this with you. I want to “exhort” you in the faith as you lead. He is offering advice and encouragement to pastors.
He not only calls himself an “elder” but he also calls himself a “witness.” He was a witness of the “sufferings of Christ.” The word “witness” is martyr in the Greek. It gives the idea of one who would testify to the truth of something. He was a witness to the sufferings of Christ but he was also a “partaker of the glory that will be revealed.” Peter was on the Mount of Transfiguration and saw a glimpse of the glory of Jesus Christ. But he recognizes that there is more to come. In this simple phrase, Peter takes us from suffering to glory; from the cross to the Second Coming of Christ.
This is who we are in Christ as well. We are witnesses to His work upon the cross and we are partakers of the divine glory because of the Spirit of God that has been granted to us in salvation. We are associated, aligned and allied with Jesus Christ.
From what I can tell, pastors walk in very good company. It is a great cloud of witnesses, no doubt. There are some incredible men down throughout the ages who have held that great title and here, Peter claims the title for his own. Not a bad association if you ask me.
2. The pastor’s assignment: 2-3
In verses 2-3, Peter spells out the pastor’s assignment. He says, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock…”
The phrase “shepherd the flock” would be very familiar to Peter. On the night of Christ’s betrayal and arrest, Peter denied the Lord three times. Jesus was crucified and Peter went back to fishing. But after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and specifically took time to restore Peter. You can take time and read John 21 for the entire account, but to summarize, Jesus says, “Peter do you love me? Then tend my lambs.” In other words, shepherd the flock of God. There is no doubt this is what Peter has in mind here as he passes on the Lord’s instructions to fellow pastors and church leaders. He goes into detail with three contrasts…
a) Not by compulsion but willfully
Pastors should lead the church willingly. In other words, they are not do grumble and complain as they go about the work of the ministry – they are to be filled with joy. Being a pastor is not something I have to do, it’s something I get to do. It is a joy, a privilege, a pleasure, a passion, a calling and a delight. There is nothing else in this world that I would rather do.
b) Not for dishonest gain but eagerly
Paul says that the laborer is worthy of his hire and that elders who rule and teach well are worthy of double honor. So, I believe it is biblical for churches to bless their pastors. But Peter makes it clear that financial gain should never be the pastor’s goal. Not for “dishonest gain.” The goal of ministry is not money, it’s the Master! The pastor should go about his job “eagerly.” The word translates to mean “of a ready mind.” It should be a joy to lead the people of God.
c) Not with arrogance but humbly
There is a very important balance that the pastor must realize and a tension that he must live with. The pastor is called to lead and to oversee the affairs of the church. But this should be done with humility, not arrogance; with love, not lording it over others. If I have to continually get up before the church and constantly remind them that I’m the leader, then I’m really not the leader.
3. The pastor’s accountability: 4
Pastor, you must remember your accountability before God. Shepherd the flock of God, because one day, the “Chief Shepherd will appear.” Peter speaks of the reward for those who have been faithful in leading God’s church according to His Word. “You will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” What an amazing promise. But this promise of reward also comes also with a reminder of our accountability before God. One day, we will all stand before Christ and give an account of our lives to him. This fact may bring you joy or may make you sick.
When I was growing up the phrase, “Wait till daddy gets home” had a couple of different meanings. It’s a promise of reward or a promise of punishment. If I had an especially difficult day, sometimes I would hear that phrase and it would strike fear into my heart. “Just wait till your daddy gets home.” But sometimes, after dad had been gone awhile and I’d been wanting to throw the ball, that phrase was a promise of reward. “Wait till daddy gets home…it won’t be long now.”
You see, the promise of this verse is a joy to those who can’t wait to see the face of Christ. To others, it’s the promise of judgment. Live (and pastor) in such a way that you know when you stand before Christ you will “receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”