The Pastor’s Task – Part 1

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. • Acts 20:28

Many businesses have a job description for their various positions. Whatever the job, there is a list of guidelines for what the job entails.

Pastors have a ministry description. It is found in Paul’s words of the Ephesian elders. The work of a pastor is not defined by man; it is set by God because it is His flock and the pastor works for Him. The pastor must remember that before he was hired by a church, he was ordained and appointed by God. Because of the day to day complexities of ministry, it is easy for a pastor to lose perspective on his calling and begin to try meeting the expectations of people. Since the Church Board hired him and has the power to fire him, he can easily slip into the mode of trying to make them happy, instead of doing what God has called him to. The temptation to be a mere hireling instead of a true shepherd is all too common.

Paul reminds the Ephesians elders that they must give all diligence to their calling. They do that by shepherding the flock of God. That may be a bit abstract for us since we are not a pastoral society like them.

For the Ephesians, it would have been clear. They all knew what a shepherd did. The shepherd’s task was three-fold. He was to lead, feed, and protect the flock. No more and no less. When he did those well, the flock was well-served and was healthy and grew.

We will examine one of the Pastor’s tasks now and the other two in Part 2.

All this is a prime way for church members to evaluate a pastor. Does he lead, feed, and protect the flock God has assigned him to serve? Are people moving into greater spiritual health through his work?

Feed the Flock

The first task of a pastor is to feed the flock. Shepherds know the health of sheep is directly tied to their diet, so they seek out the best pasture. In the same way, pastors must be diligent in providing a steady diet of God’s Word. That is exactly what Paul had done in the three years he spent in Ephesus. In Acts 20:27 he said, “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” As a pastor of pastors, Paul knew the importance of a well-rounded spiritual diet. He did not center his teaching just on pet topics or scriptural hobby horses. In the years he spent in Ephesus, he had taught through the Scriptures.

If a pastor spends all his time teaching just one section of the Bible or just a few comfortable topics, then he is feeding the sheep an unbalanced diet. They will not be healthy.

Growing up, all three of my children were finicky eaters. If they had their way, they would have had only one thing for most of their meals; chicken fingers and fries. As parents concerned for their health, my wife and I knew that diet would make them sick. So we put other food before them. They grew up to be healthy and thanked us for the love we showed by giving them what they needed rather than what they wanted.

The children of God are often like our children. There are certain things they love to hear about. If they had their way, they would get a steady diet of only that. End times prophecy, the blessings of God, His mercy and love. But if that is all people ever hear of, they will end up spiritually anemic. Pastors must be diligent to make sure they give a well-balanced diet of the whole counsel of God.

As the shepherd tends the sheep, he keeps a careful eye on them. When he notices there is some distress among them that can be corrected by a specialized diet, he moves them to that pasture. And so it is with the flock of God. Sometimes, we go through seasons of special needs, where a whole lot of folk are dealing with the same issue. When that happens, we take a break from our normal course of study to do a topical message or series. We consider such topical messages as spiritual vitamins that meet a specific need.

We have had periods of widespread marital trouble, so we teach about marriage. We have had seasons of intense spiritual warfare; so we teach on our authority in Christ and the armor of God. We have seen times when there are a lot of people coming to faith; so we took a few weeks to lay a solid foundation in the basics of the faith.

The point is that the pastor’s goal is healthy sheep. Their spiritual diet is the most crucial aspect of that.

We will take a look at the other two tasks of the pastor in the next article – The Pastor’s Task – Part 2

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