Here’s what a pastor isn’t

Published 7:31 pm Friday, August 1, 2014

If it is true that everything rises and falls on leadership, then it is equally true that leadership is a two-way street. You can’t lead those who refuse to be led, no matter how good a leader you are.

To have healthy churches, we need healthy pastors. To have healthy pastors, Christians need to interact with their pastors in healthy ways.

But what is a pastor? What is his job? First, let’s whittle down what a pastor isn’t.


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A pastor isn’t a minister. He ministers to people to be sure, but to call him the minister implies that he is the only one in a local church who ministers. Spiritually mature Christians everywhere should be ministering to the poor, facilitating God healing broken hearts, and leading people into the saving embrace of Jesus.

A pastor isn’t the “Reverend Doctor.” I have more degrees than a thermostat and more titles than a used car. But that isn’t what I’m about. That isn’t what the office of pastor is about.

Pastors are not well-educated, white-collar professionals. I have a good friend in Suffolk who says, “The worst thing a pastor can do is get a doctorate. Then he thinks his job is to sit behind a desk.”

The pastorate isn’t about titles and position. Paul referred to himself and the other church leaders of his day as fools for Jesus. “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” (1 Corinthians 4:10a ESV)

A pastor’s authority comes from and only to the extent that he proclaims the message of God from the Word of God. The only title that matters is fool for Jesus, follower of Christ.

Pastors are not religious shopkeepers peddling spiritual goods to their customers. Ever wondered why so many people in churches get so easily offended by the pastor or other church leaders and leave? Today, pastors are religious shopkeepers who have to stock the shelves with whatever product is in vogue or risk losing their “customers.”

Pastors are not entertainers. They are not peddlers of preferential religious products. They are managers of religious institutions. Our false expectations of pastors are shackles on them.

Follower of Jesus, pray for your pastor and release him from your unhealthy expectations. They are to be proclaimers of the truth of God, both the comfortable and uncomfortable parts.

It is to your great benefit that a pastor confronts you with uncomfortable truth. The only way to smooth out the rough spots on fine oak is with sandpaper. The only way to make a beautiful marble statue is with a chisel.

The pastoral charge is to “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2 ESV)

Set your pastor free from false expectations and watch his ministry flourish. Be teachable. Be a partner in the ministry, not a customer at his store.