Several years ago a mom was leaving our church service with her seven year old son. Out of the blue, he looked at his mom and said he might like to be a pastor someday. The mom was so excited to hear that God was moving in his heart. Treading very carefully on such sacred ground, she asked, “Why do you think you might want to be a pastor?” To which he replied, “It looks pretty easy. They only have to work one hour a week.
Of course, there are a lot of adults who seem to think the same thing!
Today I want to take up the question of duties of a paid pastor. What is he doing the other 39 or 49 or 59 hours of the week? There are meetings, phone calls, emails, drop-ins, funerals and weddings. The pastor is church host, CEO, counselor, sermonizer, theologian, driver, servant, chair stacker, teacher, student, visionary, team leader, organizer, recruiter and communications director, just for starters. He’s invited to gobs of social gatherings. He has no boss. God is his boss. He has 100 bosses. Which is it? Without a clear sense of direction, he will end up chasing his tail into exhaustion. If he doesn’t take control of his schedule, someone else will.
As we turn to the New Testament examples and instructions, we find four non-negotiable pastoral duties (key passages include Acts 6:1-6 and 20:17-38, the Pastoral Epistles and I Peter 5:1-4).
Dependence upon God, evidenced by prayer, should saturate and infiltrate every aspect of the pastor’s life and ministry. His communion with God is the well house from which he will draw strength, endurance and influence. Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain. This is Christ’s church and He must build it. Yes church, you are paying your pastor to spend time in prayer.
From preaching and teaching to counseling and disciple making, the pastorate is an office devoted to the proclamation of the Bible. Like the Apostles, we must be devoted to the Word. Without the Bible we have no gospel. Without the gospel, we have no church. The pulpit sets the tone and sets the agenda. And undergirding a sound, solid pulpit ministry is study and massive amounts of reading and preparation. There are cultural, linguistic, geographic and chronological canyons to cross before we arrive at an accurate interpretation of Scripture. Every pastor must feed sheep and this takes substantial time in the study and in crafting sermons true to both text and the people’s needs.
Pastors are also overseers. They manage the church of God. Pastors must be aware of what is happening under their watch, what is being taught in Bible studies and Sunday school classes and counseling sessions. Lead pastors are responsible for everything that happens in a worship service. They can’t just hole up in their private prayer closet and never come out. They can’t just study and teach all the time. They must be people who see the big picture and yet are appropriately engaged in some of the details. Pastors must plan, organize, administer, manage, review and aim to improve.
The title is the duty – Pastor. He must engage the sheep in spiritual conversation. Like a literal shepherd, he must know the health of his flocks. He must do the work of an evangelist among his people, for there are always tares among the wheat and goats among the sheep. He does soul care outside of the pulpit, seeking to apply and exhort and encourage belief and obedience to the messages preached. He regularly visits the flock in their homes and hospitals and nursing homes. Here is where the shepherd gets to know the sheep and helps them one on one and prays for them. As Paul went house to house, admonishing with tears, so must he. And when he arrives, after a few niceties, he must be a man able to move past the trivial and into the eternal quickly and efficiently and lovingly. He’s a spiritual physician, a practical theologian who can diagnose spiritual disease and apply the right surgery or medicine as each case may require.
May the Chief Shepherd raise up godly under-shepherds to lead His people into the green pastures and beside the still waters of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight