Disclaimer: Nothing which follows should be interpreted to encourage pastors to become bullies or know-it-alls. Scripture teaches servant-leadership, as exemplified by the Lord Jesus in John 13. However, our burden here is those pastors who are passive and hesitant to take a strong stand with their people, church leaders, and their staff.
"Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly; not for dishonest gain but eagerly; not as being lords over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock..."
(1 Peter 5:2-3)
You are responsible to the Lord for the flock, pastor. Numerous scriptures make that plain.
Some will not like that.
Some will accuse you of being heavy-handed.
Some in the congregation will insist that "We too are holy." I suggest you agree with them, and then direct them to two passages of Scripture: to Numbers 12 where Aaron and Miriam tried that little ploy on Moses, and to Numbers 16 where certain "men of renown" (said with all seriousness!) said the same thing to Moses. In each case, the results were disastrous.
No amount of Bible study should dissuade a God-called servant of the Lord from believing that the Lord has made pastors the "overseers" (episkopoi) of His church. See I Peter 5:2-3 and Acts 20:28 for starters.
- Therefore, let the pastor lead.
- Let the pastor take a strong leadership position with his ministerial staff. The carnal will resent it but the godly will welcome it (the carnal have no business in leadership anyway, so your leadership will begin the process either to call them to repent or to force them out).
- Let the pastor take a strong leadership position with the lay leaders of the congregation.
- Let him show the Lord's people how to lead from a servant position–"not lording it over them" (I Peter 5:3), but "being examples to the flock."
The pastor must not fear the consequences or how people will react to his leadership.
He must not fear to lead, to make decisions.
He must not fear to stand out in front. Leaders who stand in front will become targets for the rabble, but that's a small price to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the greatest work on the planet.
He must not fear a strong ministerial staff. Let him appreciate them and support them as they do their work, but he must make plain to them that he is in charge of them also. They are answerable to the pastor. Anything less than this–leaving each minister as a law unto himself–violates his calling, dishonors his Lord, fails the church, and sets the staff up for trouble.
The pastor must not fear strong personalities within the congregation.
The pastor is responsible.
The pastor is charged.
The pastor is accountable.
Hebrews 13:17 says pastors will stand before the Lord and give account for the souls of their flock. If ministers reading that scripture find it frightening, they should. It is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).
Only the rebellious and unfaithful fear falling into God’s hands. The simple fact is we live "in those hands" and have our very being there. Surely, we decided years ago we can trust Him and so rest securely there for now, and for ever.
So, let us be faithful. And let us faithfully discharge the duties He has given us and live up to the calling with which we are called.
Publication date: January 13, 2016