Who Is Your Pastorby Roger on October 22, 2018
If one would ask you this question, “Who is your pastor?” and if you are a church goer, you would immediately answer with the name of the senior leader in the church you attend. Certainly that’s a proper answer, but let’s dig a little deeper and consider what a pastor really is. A pastor is a shepherd. In the setting and culture of the Bible a shepherd leads, feeds, protects and nurtures his sheep 24/7. For a sheep in those days, all of life centers around their shepherd. If they have food to eat and water to drink it’s because their shepherd provided it. If they are still alive and have not been killed by a lion or other wild beast it’s because their shepherd protected them. The quality of a sheep’s life was a direct reflection of the heart of the shepherd who cared for them. While it is right for the leader of a local church to be called a shepherd/pastor, no man or woman is capable fulfilling all of these needs, nor should they. This is a God-sized assignment.
Jesus said this in John 10:10-13 (TPT): “10 A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow! 11 I am the Good Shepherd who lays down my life as a sacrifice for the sheep. 12–13 But the worker who serves only for wages is not a real shepherd. Because he has no heart for the sheep he will run away and abandon them when he sees the wolf coming. And then the wolf mauls the sheep, drags them off, and scatters them”.
Several liberating trues stand out to me from this passage:
1. JESUS IS OUR GOOD PASTOR. While the Lord calls many to function in the spiritual gift of pastor, only Jesus deserves our full allegiance for He alone is the one who gives us life in its fullness until we overflow. The calling and gift of pastor is meant to bring sheep closer to the one and only Good Shepherd - not to be the good shepherd himself.
2. THE THIEF THAT TRIES TO STEAL FROM JESUS. Some religious leaders (knowingly or unknowingly) diminish the role of the Good Shepherd to replace it with themselves thus stealing the Lord’s sheep. Intimacy with Jesus is replaced with lifeless religion. Some spiritual leaders are only looking for a position or salary, not genuinely caring about the welfare of the sheep. Sheep do best when they are walking in intimate fellowship with the Good Shepherd.
3. JESUS'S FOLLOWERS ARE OVERFLOWING WITH LIFE. In one’s desperation to put a physical face on Jesus it’s easy to get fixated on an admirable spiritual leader. Expectations are placed on that leader that only Jesus can fulfill. If you do not experience a constant flow of life and love in your life, may I suggest to you, “You need more of Jesus not more religion".
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he confronted their immaturity in segregating themselves around their favorite apostles. “For when you divide yourselves up in groups—a “Paul group” and an “Apollos group”—you’re acting like people without the Spirit’s influence” (1 Cor. 3:4 TPT). Only when one has learned to be truly led by the Holy Spirit has he found all the benefits of following the Good Shepherd. These benefits cannot be provided directly by even the best pastors or apostles.
We should always honor the Lord’s apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. God uses them to reveal Jesus to us. But only Jesus fills us with abundant, eternal life. He is everything and He’s forever.
How can we tell if our spiritual leaders are doing a good job in bringing us close to our Good Shepherd? Listen again to Paul. ”The quality of materials used by anyone building on this foundation will soon be made apparent, whether it has been built with gold, silver, and costly stones, or wood, hay, and straw. Their work will soon become evident, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by blazing fire! And the fire will test and prove the workmanship of each builder” (1 Cor. 3:12-13 TPT).
Some ministries are made up with a lot of fluff and attractions to draw a crowd. Good music, oratory skills, an attractive venue and social media promotion are highly valued tools to grow a ministry. I recommend them. But hype doesn’t replace the substance of being rooted deeply in Jesus. The acid test for a spiritual leader is the perseverance displayed by those he has raised up in the Lord. A pastor with the heart of Jesus might say something like John the Baptist said. “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30). A good father’s goal is that his child will one day be a successful independent adult. A good Pastor does not seek for his people to be dependent on him but dependent on Jesus. Gold, silver and costly stones have to do with the depth of relationship one has with Jesus. Fiery trials will only add value to these building materials. Wood, hay, and straw may speak of those peripheral, temporary experiences, that can be generated by special events, crowd excitement and empty promises. Beware, the glitter fades quickly.
Paul concluded 1 Cor. 3 with these words. "21 So don’t be proud of your allegiance to any human leader. For actually, you already have everything! It has all been given for your benefit, 22 whether it is Paul or Apollos or Peter the Rock, or whether it’s the world or life or death, or whether it’s the present or the future—everything belongs to you! 23 And now you are joined to the Messiah, who is joined to God.” (TPT). When one transitions from codependency on their favorite pastor or apostle to deeper intimacy with Jesus they lose nothing but gain everything. All of God’s ministers belong to us because they all belong to Jesus. All that Jesus has is ours. So let’s go straight to Jesus and enjoy “everything in abundance, more than you expect – life in it’s fulness until you overflow”.