Why Pastors

What is the job of a pastor? I’ve often heard the joke go around that it must be great to be a pastor because you only have to work one hour a week. Now there are shameful pastors who are in fact lazy, and will be held accountable to the Lord for everything they have done. But most pastors that I’ve met genuinely love their people, and work very hard to care for them. But what does that work look like?

The most obvious is also the most important:
A pastor is called to feed Christ’s flock.

Now this concept has to be explained a bit. Though it is true that most churches run on their stomachs, (and that for some reason my Baptist brothers have found an infinite series of ways to utilize potatoes to the glory of God) feeding the flock is not centrally about literal food.

The Apostle Peter explains the work of pastor in his first letter, “Feed the flock of God which is among you…” (1 Peter 5:1 KJV). A pastor must feed Christ’s sheep. If a pastor fails to feed his sheep, he won’t have sheep for long. Why is that? For they will either eat each other alive to survive, break out and feed elsewhere, or simply die. Sheep must be fed.

But how does a pastor feed his sheep? Again we turn to the Scriptures to find God’s counsel unto us. There we find a sufficient answer in Jeremiah 3:15, “I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (KJV) The task of feeding is inherently tied with giving the Word of God to the people of God. Nothing is as central or as important to the church as this fundamental reality. To lose this, is to lose the Christian ministry.

The pastor has not been called primarily to be creative or vibrant. The pastor has not been called to draw in young people, or young families, produce programs or anything else. These things may be a consequence of faithful and prayerful pastoral ministry, but they are not central. A pastor must devote himself to the Word of God, and dispensing it to Christ’s sheep. Whatever else he do, should he neglect this task, he is a pastor in name alone.

The church has treasured this sacred duty within her walls since her founding with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles. As John Owen, the prince of puritans, once wrote as he considered John 21:15-17, “The care of preaching the gospel was committed to Peter, and in him unto all true pastors of the church, under the name of ‘feeding’…” But this feeding is not a thoughtless or heartless enterprise.

One of my grandmother’s favorite ways to show her love for each and every one of us was to cook up a special meal. As we all gathered together at the table to eat, we would often mention that as we devoured plate after plate, that we could taste the love. Love indeed is what always drives the family of God, and it is no different for ministers of the gospel. A pastor is called to feed Christ’s sheep with the Word of God, and to do so as a labor of love, as an outworking of their love for the sheep Christ has committed unto them. We as pastors must commit ourselves to this labor of love.

Perhaps you may be wondering, what does this have to do with me? I challenge you today to consider the man who will be entering your church’s pulpit this Sunday. Consider that he has passed by many opportunities and alternate careers just so that he can be there to point you to Christ. Consider that he must undergo many difficulties and trials in order to faithfully pursue his ministry. Consider that ministering faithfully according to the gospel has always taken a toll on the man and his family. Nevertheless, he willingly endures all such things because of his deep and longing desire to see you become more like Christ.

As pastors we are glad to endure all things for the sake of the sheep because we so genuinely and passionately desire to see your lives transformed by Jesus. Much like a mother willingly endure delivery for the sake of her baby, so a pastor is willing to undergo every ounce of pain, sorrow, and rejection just to see one come to Christ. Why else would we pursue preaching with such ferocity and consistency if not for your sakes? Though it is true, that we as pastors, have a sacred duty, of which we will be held accountable for before God, we pursue this duty with joy out of love for you.

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