Pastor, First Shepherd Your Own Heart

Pastoral ministry is perilous. Not only do pastors face unique temptation due to their work, but their congregation watches their lives and imitation their actions. What a pastor most deeply loves, the church will grow to love. What captivates the imagination and affections of an elder will be mirrored by the church. Based on my anecdotal evidence, churches tend to become like their pastors over the years—both in the pastor’s strengths and deficiencies. This fact proves the wisdom and need for a plurality of elders in a local church, as many shepherds help balance out an individual’s weaknesses. Yet, the responsibility here is weighty.

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Those Who Must Give Account

Ezekiel 34 is a passage that absolutely terrifies me.  As a man, who has been called by God to shepherd His people in a local church, the rebuke of Israel's bad shepherds serves as a stern warning for any man who is a pastor of God's people.  You can read the chapter for yourself here and see what I'm talking about. You see Jesus, the chief shepherd, entrusts his people to the oversight and care of what we call a Pastor.  A pastor then has the responsibility given by God to care for his congregation and he must one day give account to his care and protection of the flock.  In Ezekiel 34 we see that Israel's shepherds were absolutely terrible.  Instead of feeding the sheep, they were feeding themselves.  They took advantage of the sheep and they clothed themselves with the wool from the sheep and slaughtered the fat ones to eat.  Israel's shepherds, who were there for the protection of the sheep, instead became the predators of the sheep.

How many selfish pastors milk a great salary from their congregations all the while remaining lazy and selfish taking money from God's people all the while never protecting God's people from the enemy?  If you don't believe me, just look at our church membership rolls.  How many people are on your church rolls? Now lets take a second and ask the very tough question, where are all those members?  What happened to them?  Does anyone even know? The sad reality is that many of those people have escaped out the back door of the church and have been devoured by the wolves of culture.  Where are the pastors who are like Jesus who go out and get the lost sheep?  What situations like this tell us is that we have a huge shepherding crisis in our local churches.  Pastors have become excellent administrators, leaders, and preachers but have failed in putting systems in place to protect the sheep.

As a pastor, I want to be faithful in leading, serving, and protecting the flock God has entrusted to me.  Whether that means clarifying who is a church member and who isn't, whether that means developing a comprehensive shepherding ministry in the church, whether it means training pastors/elders to be intentional about shepherding the congregation.  Pastors, you and I must one day give account of those God has entrusted to us.  Will we be found faithful like the good shepherd Jesus, or will be like the shepherds of Israel lining our pockets while the sheep are scattered?

Recommended Books on Shepherding:

The Shepherd Leader

Those Who Must Give Account