Summary: This is a careful, radically Biblical assessment of God's written will for the Equipping Gift of Pastor, as mentioned in Ephesians 4, and commented on in other places in the New Testament.
God’s Order and Assignment for Pastors
Eric J. Hanson
July 8, 2012
Pastor Dallas recently shared a message on the five giftings mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. These are gifts from God in the form of men and women whom God has raised up, for the purpose of equipping His people to minister the presence and reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, to others. These people are listed as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. A quick and accurate way to reference these “people gifts from God” is to refer to them as the “equipping gifts”.
Today I am continuing with this theme. Perhaps the most familiar to church people is the gift of pastor.
What is a Pastor?
First: what does “pastor” mean? Simply this: shepherd. One of the strongest metaphors the Lord Jesus used in describing people was to call us sheep. He is the Good Shepherd, and we who have received him as Lord and savior are His sheep. Let’s turn now to John’s Gospel to hear the Lord’s own words about this. (Read John 10: 11, 14, 27-28)
The Good Shepherd, Jesus,
• lays down His life for His sheep.
• He knows His sheep.
• His sheep hear His voice and follow Him.
• He gives eternal life to His sheep.
Other verses elaborate that the Lord
• leads his sheep in and out of the sheep gate and that he
• gives them good pasture to feed upon. In another place (Matthew 18:12) the Lord tells us that a true shepherd will
• pursue a sheep that has wandered away. If he has 100 sheep and one wanders off, he will leave the 99 and go
• retrieve the 1 who has left the sheep fold.
Jesus, of course, is the great role model for all of the equipping gifts. By looking at His earthly ministry years, we can glean a good understanding of how these people gifts are intended to work.
• Jesus the Apostle was “sent” to the people of the whole planet Earth. By setting the apostolic gifting (sent forth) into action in others, He set the stage for Churches to be planted and raised up to maturity all the way to the ends of the Earth.
• Jesus the prophet addressed the issues of those around him, from individuals all the way to ruling councils. He spoke the mind of God to them. He ministered this way to friend and stranger alike.
• Jesus the evangelist (bringer of the “evangel” or good news) proclaimed the “good news” of the Kingdom of God to crowds, small groups, and individual people. He called them to follow Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life; the only Savior. Legitimate evangelists today call people to follow Jesus wholeheartedly.
• Jesus the teacher addressed the crowds, small groups, and individuals. He taught them many things regarding himself, the Kingdom, things to come, and how to live a life connected to and pleasing to God.
• Jesus the pastor, however, had nothing to do with crowds, with masses of people, or with ruling councils. In His office as Pastor, Jesus called 12 to himself, to train up close and personally, to share life with on many levels, and to bring to maturity in the things of God. (Luke 6:12-13) This requires much time investment. Besides these 12, there were a few others, such as Mary, Martha, and Lazarus whom Jesus invested himself into on the level of a pastor.
From the scriptures we just studied, we see that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. In 1 Peter 5:4 we also see that he is the Chief Shepherd. As the chief shepherd, he has many helpers who are not the Chief Shepherd. Let’s look at these now.
Ground Level Pastors
The “ground level” for the operation of the gift of pastor or pastor/teacher is small group ministry. The small group can be a Home Fellowship. It can be a Church Class. It can be people one is working with through a parachurch ministry such as the Teen Center. The small group can be a task oriented group such as a worship leadership team, a drama ministry team, or other task oriented group.
I believe that those who thrive as Sunday School teachers across the years, and who care about their students, follow upon them when they are missing, reward their accomplishments, and rejoice to see those students become real followers of Jesus Christ, are pastors. They have their 12, and possibly a few more, whom they are investing their life into in Christ. They are inconveniencing themselves for the sake of these others. They are protecting them from false teachings and watching over them in prayer.
I believe that a worship team leader who takes time to pray with and listen to his team members, and gets to know each one well is exhibiting a shepherd’s heart. When he rejoices in the newer team members developing in their giftings to the place where they lead the people along with him, he is being a shepherd, a pastor. When he asks one of his developing team to take the public lead next Sunday in calling and leading the church into worship, he is guiding them, as a good shepherd, not jealously guarding the spotlight for himself, as a music performer.