The Pastor’s Task – Part 2

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

In Part 1 of “The Pastor’s Task,” we examined the first of the three parts of the Pastor’s assignment—to Feed God’s Flock. Now, we consider the other two.

Lead the Flock

The pastor’s second task is to lead the flock. Along with a healthy diet, sheep need exercise.

In Psalm 23 we read, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want, He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” If all sheep ever do is eat and lie in green pastures, they get fat. And a fat sheep is in danger!

Phillip Keller was a professional shepherd who wrote a marvelous little book titled A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23. His insights into the life of a shepherd and sheep open Psalm 23 as a wonderful masterpiece. Keller says that left to themselves, sheep are such creatures of habit they will stay in one place and over-graze it, ruining the pasture. They will keep going over the same trails until they are muddy ruts. They graze till the grass is gone, then paw the dirt to dig up the roots. As their health deteriorates, parasites and disease take hold. So the diligent shepherd moves the flock from pasture to pasture.

It is no wonder God likens people to sheep. We, too, are creatures of habit. Many people do not like change. But if we are going to grow, we must change; there is no growth without it. So pastors must be diligent to keep the flock of God from becoming complacent and settling down to a religious routine that fails to stay current with the Holy Spirit.

Remember; God calls a man to be a pastor. With that call comes all that is needed to fulfill the call. Where God guides, He provides. Since a pastor’s task is to lead the flock, God gives him what he needs to take them where He wants them led. That is what a vision is. So we could say that “When God calls, He installs.”

That vision is a mental picture of what God wants the flock to become; a healthy, holy, loving, growing congregation doing a specific work in their community. Faithfulness in the pastoral ministry means staying on course in the pursuit of that vision.

Protect the Flock

The third task of the pastor is to protect the flock.  In Acts 20:29-30 Paul tells the Ephesian elders . . .

For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, from among yourselves, men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

Paul spoke both from experience and prophetically. In many of the churches he had planted, once he left, false teachers appeared. He knew it would happen in Ephesus. So he warned the elders to be on guard and watch out for error. They would come both from without and within.

One of the great concerns of a shepherd is predators. Wolves and wild dogs hover around the edges of the flock, waiting for the chance to make off with a lamb. Lions and other carnivores see sheep as easy pickings. So a good shepherd keeps an eye out to protect his flock. His diligence is enough to keep the wolf at bay. But lions are bolded and attack even when he is watching. So he intervenes with the tools of his trade. The rod was a deadly weapon in the hand of a skilled shepherd. A well-aimed sling-stone was lethal. Ask Goliath.

David tells of two times when predators came to take from his father’s flock. He delivered the sheep from a lion and a bear. That experience emboldened him to believe he could go against a giant harassing God’s Flock – Israel.

Paul tells the pastors of Ephesus they must keep watch over and protect their flock. They face perils from without. False teachers are like savage wolves with one aim – to feast on God’s people. They also face peril from within. Some of them, the very men Paul spoke to that day in Miletus, would go bad. The power of their position would corrupt them and they would go off into destructive doctrines and practices that would bring spiritual ruin.

The same is true today. There is danger from without. Cults, false teachers, religious shysters, and hucksters abound. They hover around the edge of the Church, looking for the opportunity to rush in and rip people off.

There is also the danger that rises from within. Wolves in sheep’s clothing who appear to be a part of the flock but who have their own agenda. They worm their way into people’s confidence, then slowly start to draw people away from the Truth by clever and enticing words. They say things that sound godly but really just appeal to the flesh. They suggest those God has ordained to lead are not as pure and holy as they could be. They plant doubts in people’s minds through seemingly off-hand remarks. But they are not off-hand at all; they are calculated to fire a dart of doubt into unwary hearts.


In summary, the pastor’s task is to Feed, Lead, and Protect God’s flock. He needs to center his work around those duties, using them as a filter for decisions and how he uses his time and energy. After 40-plus years in harness as a pastor, I can say with all confidence that done well, those three will consume him. He will have neither time nor energy to do other. Of course, he is first and foremost a pastor to his wife and children. They ought to be the first in his leading, feeding, and protecting for they are his most intimate flock.

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?

1 thought on “The Pastor’s Task – Part 2”

  1. These are good reminders, Lance! Ezek 34 speaks to the need to protect the sheep from those without and within and links up well with John 10. Too often, more emphasis is put on feeding the sheep over other responsibilities, but the Lord makes it clear in Ezek 34 that there are other responsibilities that we as pastors cannot shirk or ignore.

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