God has called His shepherds to pastor the flock, not worship them.
What does biblical pastoring look like? How do we pastor and lead the people God has entrusted us with? How do we do that effectively?
In John 10 and Ezekiel 34, we find excellent pointers as to what biblical pastoring is like. The following notes are based on these two valuable passages found in Scripture.
Signs that shepherding is out of balance:
- Sheep are dependent on their pastors to survive. They have developed an unhealthy attachment to them.
- Pastors believe they are the answer to every sheep’s problem (opposed to Jesus being the answer and pointing them to Him).
- Sheep insisting that only the pastor can pray for them rather than others.
- Pastors feeling guilty about not getting to all the needs of every single person in the congregation.
- Pastors’ families never see them because they are always out tending to the needs of the sheep.
- Every sheep has the pastor on speed dial because he needs to help with every single problem and they are incapable of solving any of these problems without him.
- The pastor needs to dedicate houses, cars and businesses. “If the pastor doesn’t bless it, it isn’t blessed”.
- The pastor counsels in a way that deals with symptoms while neglecting to empower the sheep to walk free.
Godly pastoring is characterised by:
- A pastor that props up the weak temporarily with the goal of getting them to stand on their own two feet.
- A pastor that shows his sheep how to feed themselves.
- A pastor that teaches his sheep how to rely on God.
- A pastor that raises leaders capable of leading others.
- A pastor that instructs his sheep how to seek God for answers and to come to their own conclusions, rather than spoon-feeding them.
- Jesus is at the centre of everything.
- The sheep grow in their dependency upon Jesus and not the pastor.
- The pastor expresses that he cares in a way that empowers people rather than just being sympathetic.
What does godly pastoring look like?
In Job 1 we read about Job and how he modelled godly leadership. These verses give us an account of his leadership and we read how God says of Job “there is no man like him on earth.”
And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 1 Job 1:8 ESV
Godly pastoring is marked by God’s presence
In Chapter 29:2-6, Job laments “Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head, and by his light I walked through darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent, when the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were all around me, when my steps were washed with butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!”
However, in this lamenting, we see that Jobs leadership was marked by God’s presence.
- “…when God watched over me…”
- “…when the friendship of God was upon my tent…”
- “…when the Almighty was yet with me…”
- “…when my steps were washed with butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil…”
Godly pastoring is marked by the ability to relate up and down
Job was a pastor who was able to relate up and down, meaning he was not exclusive towards a certain age or people group. He was able to connect with people from all walks of life.
“When I went out to the gate of the city, when I prepared my seat in the square, the young men saw me and withdrew, and the aged rose and stood; the princes refrained from talking and laid their hand on their mouth; the voice of the nobles was hushed, and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth.” – Job 29: 7-10
Godly pastoring hears the cries of the people
“When the ear heard, it called me blessed, and when the eye saw, it approved, because I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him.” – Job 29: 11-12
Godly pastoring hears the cries for help which may come in different shapes in forms, for example, such as divorce or job loss.
Godly pastoring disarms the insecure
“The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.” – Job 29: 13
Godly pastoring is emotionally engaged
“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.” – Job 29: 14
A godly pastor understands the enormity of social problems and doesn’t dismiss them as irrelevant or unimportant.
“I broke the fangs of the unrighteous and made him drop his prey from his teeth. Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand, my roots spread out to the waters, with the dew all night on my branches, my glory fresh with me, and my bow ever new in my hand.” Job 29: 17-20
Godly pastoring makes time for people
“Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel. After I spoke they did not speak again, and my word dropped upon them. They waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain.” – Jobs 29: 21-23
Job made time for the people who looked to him for leadership. A godly pastor is not too busy for the people he is shepherding, he makes time to listen to them and what is going in their lives.
Godly pastoring shows people a smile
“I smiled on them when they had no confidence, and the light of my face they did not cast down. I chose their way and sat as chief, and I lived like a king among his troops, like one who comforts mourners.” – Job 29: 24-25
Sometimes, a smile can go a long way. A godly pastor smiles on his sheep.
Something to think about:
Read Ezekiel 34 and find 5 revelations about what godly pastoring looks like.
-staff meeting notes by Grant Crawford, compiled by Sabby Mahabeer.