Friday, May 6, 2011

For Pastors: How Does an Under-shepherd Stay Faithful to the Chief Shepherd?


Pastors are supposed to build up the flock, right? They're supposed to stir believers on to godliness and service. We're supposed to be positive, gracious, winsome, congenial, frugal, sweet, and always out visiting the right people. Oh, and we're supposed to know at least the book and the chapter of any and every verse they think of. In short, they're supposed to be nigh on to perfect.

So what do we do when the very words of Jesus come into play in a situation without violating any of the above?
 For instance:
Mat 6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

How do you tell someone who has gone on and on about how much "The Lord has blessed them financially" before laying down a sizable check on the Sunday School room table? How do you tell them, the Lord isn't accepting your offering? Or do you just shut up and keep it. Let the giver and God sort out what sort of blessing, if any, the giver will receive?

Then there's:
Mat 6:5  And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Say there is a woman who doesn't show the qualities and character that the pastor believes a Christian Lady ought to show, but she always likes to pray in front of others. You don't want to explain to everyone why this person should not be in leadership or 'leading' in prayer. You still hope to help her grow and repent. Her problem might be more about willful disobedience than immaturity. But for the time being you have to make a call, for the woman's benefit and for the church. Am I right?

Then there is the command to all believers:
Mat 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

I don't want to be at odds with anyone. I don't like to make enemies, it's just in my nature to try to keep people happy. OK? I want people to like me. So sue me. BUT, I have to do whats right because I will answer to God for how I pastored His flock. So if I have offended someone and they DO, in fact, have something against me, I should apologize and make restitution.
But, what if they just THINK they have ought against me. What if they are upset with me when I was just trying to do what is right. What if a pastor doesn't believe, after soul-searching prayer, that he has truly hurt them in any way?
    Notice that Jesus didn't say that the brother "thinks" he has ought against, or thinks that a person has in some way hurt him, taken from him, damaged his character etc. etc. If a man says he is offended him that may be true. But they may have offended him with the truth, and therefore owe no apology.
     Still, it's my desire and command to bring unity within the church, and that I will try to do. Often, a perceived injury is often the result of misunderstanding.

Then a shoe gets put on another foot:

Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

This is one of the hardest steps of church discipline to take. Not the first part possibly, although that too is difficult. But taking someone with you who is mature enough in the Lord to put what the Bible says above feelings. Then to approach them in a restorative way, giving them every benefit of doubt, but still calling them to repentance.
     Then, what do you do when the person confesses his faults, then does something else wrong and leaves the church. If the sheep says it's leaving the church does the shepherd still go after it? Then if it joins another flock do you forget about it or warn the other shepherd?

And then:
Mat 7:15  Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

And this is one of the trickiest situations of all; when a pastor perceives and discerns that one of the sheep is a wolf, but none of the other sheep see it. The pastor's responsibility is to God first, then to the protection of the flock. Sometimes the flock doesn't want protection. Sometimes they want the pastor to go through diversity training so he will learn not to discriminate against wolves. (Poor little things.) After all maybe the wolf wants to be a saved wolf!

Just points to ponder for pastors.


  1. You have provided profound points every proper pastor should ponder and put into practice!

  2. Praise and platitudes 'preciated

  3. I couldn't have said it better MYSELF!


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