Ephesians 4.11 - And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers.
I would like to address in this article the ministry of pastor and the ten goals that are part of his mission. Indeed, there is a lot of confusion today about the ministry of pastor. Centuries of Christian tradition have overshadowed this important and yet little-known ministry. You will tell me that you know at least some pastors and I will answer you that we are not talking about the same thing!
The confusion is that in many federations the title of "pastor" has become a generic title. He is the Protestant counterpart of the parish priest. But if you deepen a little, you will see that many "pastors" have a profile of elders, others of evangelists, others of prophets, apostles or doctors.The title of "pastor" is given to them (I am not talking here about self-proclaimed ones) because they are the leader of a community. This title confers on them a more or less great authority according to the tendencies and unfortunately sometimes despotic.
I do not speak of that, I am talking about the "ministry" of pastor, this man, or this woman, who is chosen by God to minister to His children. A service that is of great use for the Church but remains, at the risk of repeating myself, relatively little used.
Except in our basic text, the word "pastor" does not appear in the New Testament (except of course when we refer to the Lord Jesus). To understand it, we must refer to the Old Testament and in particular to the reproaches that God makes to the pastors of His people. Finally, his expectation of pastors demonstrates what the qualities of these men and women should be.
To conclude this introduction, I would like to say that for me, referring to the Word of God and the wonderful example of the early church, a good community structure can not be envisaged with a single leader but by a college. which brings together several elders.
Ezekiel 34: 4 - You did not fortify those who were weak ...
As I said above, the qualities of the ministry of pastor can be discovered through the rebuke of the Lord to the pastors of Israel. This reproach was very "heavy" because these pastors had shamefully profited from their status to oppress the people and "serve" royally.
The first thing that is asked of pastors is to strengthen the weak or to encourage the afflicted.Paul surprised me when he said, "But rather, the body members who appear to be weaker are needed" ( 1 Corinthians 12:22). He does not say that we must support them, that we can not do otherwise to include them in the community, but he says they are necessary, another possible translation: indispensable.
Often the leadership will look for elitism, gratin. Service opportunities in the community will be offered to those who are "strong", or at least who appear to be. The "weak" will be put on the bench, we accept them but with difficulty. How many "pastors" will have the heart to invest in these "weak"? How many will take time to encourage, honor, train, put them in favorable situations for them to emerge?
Then I appeal to those who have this true heart of shepherd: look for the weak, do their good by your encouragement, your kindness and compassion, your wise advice, your special attention to them. The Church will be greatly blessed. Take an example of the Lord Jesus and his way of caring for his disciples.
And you my friend who feels terribly weak, who has the impression of being useless. Know that the body of Christ needs you, you are indispensable. Take as a promise that God is able to make you "strong". Let the weak say I am strong (Joel 3:10).
Ezekiel 34.4 - ... healed the sick ...
This is an unfortunate conclusion that we must make: today, there are many patients in the communities. I do not speak only of the physical sick but also of the psychic and spiritual sick.Many of them are on their own and find little or no solace around them.
The good pastor is going to trouble himself for the sick sheep, whatever the reason. When there is an expectation of God, it also means that there is a promise. If God desires His children to be in good health, He will also give His servants the means to fill this need. Dear friend pastor, wait for the Lord to give you the gift of healing. We marvel that this or that evangelist is accompanied by powerful miracles of healing, but we expect little or nothing for the Lord to heal us through the pastor's hearts all around us.
The difference between the evangelist and the pastor is that the pastor will take the time. Some "ewes" will need a lot of attention to heal. We believe that healing can be instant and glory to God for that, but it can be a long process as well. It will be necessary to manifest beyond the gift the fruit of patience and kindness.
Sadly, I note with sadness that the elderly are neglected by their spiritual leaders. When comes the time when they have difficulties to move to come into the community, their opportunity to live the praise, the sacrament, the Word of a community way is reduced to a skin of sorrow. If those who have the pastoral heart decided to organize a small meeting with these elderly people, not just a courtesy visit, I think that these "sheep" who are sick the elderly would no longer suffer the feeling of a total abandonment.
Ezekiel 34.4 - ... dressed up the one who was wounded ...
If there are many sick sheep in the people of God, there are probably more who are hurt! We ourselves, if we examine ourselves, may find one or the other wound that is not yet healed, whether it is recent or from a very distant past.
One day I asked the Lord why some people are "on edge", while others are very cool in their relationship. The Lord showed me a very muscular arm that was being punched. Of course it caused pain, but it passed quickly. Then I saw the same arm with a scar barely closed. The same punch was given, and the person writhed in pain. The Lord told me, "Many have hearts like this arm with scars barely closed. A word, a gesture, a memory, and the pain comes back like a boomerang. But I am He who heals broken hearts "(Psalms 147: 3). Then I saw as a hand that passed over the scar of the arm and the wound disappeared completely.
Dear friends who have a pastoral heart, the task is immense. God has given you a trained tongue to heal the wounded (Isaiah 50: 4). Unfortunately, the Church is often the only army that completes its wounded. We must stand together, against the cause of many wounds: backbiting. Let us watch, because when the Holy Spirit has used us to heal the wounds of these dear brothers and sisters, the devil will use one or the other to give another punch. The Church needs its leaders to take committed and firm public positions to stop the scourge of gossip.
Beloved, if your heart is filled with wounds, know that the Lord stands near you. Let the Holy Spirit comfort you and free you from all root of bitterness and bitterness. Come and take refuge under his wings and He will send you one of his servants who will have the Word about.
Ezekiel 34: 4 - ... you did not bring back that which went astray ...
Another observation that must be made is that many children of God no longer go to community. Rightly or wrongly, these "ewes" are no longer in a sheepfold and therefore no longer benefit from pastoral care. Unfortunately, I have rarely seen, never to say, a servant of God who cared. It is quite unusual, so much effort to win a soul and so few steps to try to bring back those who are in "nature".
Often, when a child of God leaves a community, there is a "clash". The essential thing is not to know who is right, but, at least with regard to pastoral ministry, to find the best solutions for the "sheep" who want to leave the herd. Sometimes, the departure is justified, the child of God needs another space to evolve; so why live it as a betrayal and cut the bridges? Why not let one or the other go in peace? The "sheep" belong to one person only: Jesus Christ.
Others left because they were hurt or shocked. By cutting themselves off from all community life, these people deprive themselves of the "cure". Sometimes, words of welcome from a good pastor will be enough to help his children of God find the desire to live their faith with others.
Others are distant because they are in shame, but I will talk about it in the next paragraph.
Others went astray because they let themselves be dragged by a false doctrine or followed a bad leader who abused them. Rebuilding trust is very long. Whoever has a pastor's heart should have a lot of patience, perhaps support aggression, unfair reproaches, know how to humble himself for the faults of another ... But never cut the bridges! Let us stand on our knees before the throne of God so that those wounded on the road will find their way back to the "house".
Ezekiel 34.4 - ... sought the one that was lost ...
Sometimes the sheep get lost. We are not talking about those who have never known the Lord, but those who have fallen. Victims of a weakness, these people have been trapped by the ploys of the enemy. I have heard servants of God preach the restoration, but few of them have set up a "cocoon" to welcome those who have fallen, feel ashamed and carry a bad name.
It was one of the main missions of the Lord Jesus: He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). We saw hateful "servants of God" in black rage because fallen servants of God were restored and reused by the Lord. The body of Christ, quite often, instead of rejoicing at the found sheep, is offended and angry like the eldest son of the parable of the prodigal son.
My beloved, if your doctrine condemns adulterers, divorced, debauchees, alcoholics, schemers ... as irremediably lost for the Kingdom; let me look straight into you and tell you that you believe a lie. No fault, no fall, no error of course is too serious for those who wish to repent and take the road with the Lord. But know, beloved, that if you condemn others, you condemn yourself!
Beloved of God, beloved of the Father, affectionate in a very special way by the Lord Jesus; you who have fallen: return to your God! He does not condemn or reproach. Give Him "the chance" to demonstrate that He is able to restore you, restore you and use you again. Do not let the criticism, the hateful gaze, the wickedness of some Christians block the way of the Father's arms. He will welcome you as the prodigal son and there will be a feast in the sky.
Ezekiel 34.13 - ... I will feed them on the mountains of Israel ...
Another very important role that has fallen to the pastor's ministry is feeding the sheep. And not only will he ensure that the sheep have good food, but also that they are in a peaceful place (Psalms 23.2). For a good growth, the children of God do not need a climate of dispute, quarrel or insecurity. The good pastor will walk in the footsteps of the least, no offense to those who are more fiery (Genesis 33.13 and 14). Sometimes leadership challenges itself that the people can not "still" take on. This is a big risk of bursting and loss.
Of course we envision that the food of the people of God is the Word of God. The good pastor will seek to adapt it to the "sheep" that have fallen to him. There is no benefit to giving red meat to babies, nor a bottle to adults. Sometimes the preaching of worship is more like appetizer snacks than a real meal. If so, it is very important to bring a solid lesson to another meeting. The good pastor will ensure the cohesion of what is taught. It does not need to bring everything, on the contrary, it should evaluate its own limits and invite other departments more advanced in this or that area. However, the choice of these ministries will be made in dedicated prayer times: beware of wolves. Today, we see very advanced communities in the "prophetic" but it is harmful to see that the majority of the invited ministries are also at the forefront of the "prophetic"; why not invite doctor's departments to bring balance? It is also valid in the other direction.
A good pastor will teach his "flock" to feed himself. I love this sentence of Mary, the mother of Jesus: "Do what He tells you" (John 2.5). This is the excellence of the pastor's teaching: teaching his "sheep" to hear the voice of Christ, to understand what He is telling them and to bring them to practice this Word received. This pastor will see fathers and spiritual mothers in his community. But if he always gives them all cooked, seeking to impose his doctrine, the members of the body will not develop properly.
My beloved ones, do not go to eat at all the racks. Be careful ! Demonic doctrines, more subtle than the others, circulate in Christendom. Bad teaching can do you more harm than you think.A good selection criterion for accepting the food that is offered to you is: does the "preacher" love me, does he want me well, is his mouth a blessing for my life?
Ezekiel 34.16 and 17 - ... But I will destroy those that are fat and strong. I want to graze them with justice ... Behold, I will judge between sheep and sheep ...
Here is another great lack in the people of God: the notion of justice! A community is made of all kinds of individuals. There are strong and weak, strong personalities and erased people, children of the big, rich of the poor ... Faced with this heterogeneous whole, it is difficult to have a homogeneity especially if the pastoral ministry wants to everything house price "goat and cabbage"! However, we are sad to see that patronage is too often the most influential or the big GG are often listened to at the expense of the most modest or shy.
If you want to do a good exercise to know what God thinks about it, calculate the number of times the Lord asks, in his Word, to take care of the weak, whether they are orphans, widows, strangers or children ... Our Heavenly Father sees with deep displeasure what is being done in the Body of Christ.
A good pastor will take "arm in arm" any nascent conflict; and he will do it with fairness. He will also know how to remove those who cause divisions (Titus 3:10), the spirit of division being the rejection of the other children of God.
Paul makes a serious rebuke to the Corinthians when he says, "I say it to your shame. Thus there is not among you one wise man that can speak among his brethren "(1 Corinthians 6.5).All community life requires being able to judge between sheep and sheep. This judgment is not a conviction, but an informed opinion on a situation by putting everyone in front of their responsibilities. The good shepherd will know how to teach each other the respect of others, conciliation and temperance.
Beloved pastors, the Lord will ask you to account for each of your "sheep" crushed by the rulers; He will ask you for accounts whenever your judgment or choice has been dictated by the "position" of this or that person; He will ask you again for all the times when the power has turned your head.
Ezekiel 34.25 - And I will make a covenant of peace with them, and I will make wild animals from the land; they will live safely in the desert, and sleep in the midst of the forests.
Wild animals often refer to evil spirits. It also belongs to the pastoral ministry to bring freedom to the captives. In fact, pastoral ministry has a protective role and the Lord gives it authority for that. Your rod and your staff reassure me, David told us (Psalms 23.4), the "sheep" need more than ever to feel safe in a hostile and cruel world.
Unfortunately, many "pastors" are not very clear about the activity of demons. For some, there is a complete denial of this activity, for others they prefer to leave this task out of fear or ignorance. The people of God need pastors full of authority and assurance to eradicate wild beasts in their territory; and when one of their "sheep" becomes their victim, they should fight to extract it from their mouths (1 Samuel 17,34 and 35).
Jesus made this promise to us: "Behold, I have given you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and on all the power of the enemy; and nothing will harm you "(Luke 10.19). The Good Shepherd will have both a gentle character but also a warrior mentality. Without this mentality, he will see his flock spread.
Beloved, not everything is regulated by the helping relationship or the Christian council. Too often these "disciplines" hide the spiritual aspect of the problems by limiting themselves to the psychic aspect. Some of your sheep need to be stamped! The Lord has also promised us that if we abide in His Word, we will know the truth and this truth will make us free (John 8.31 and 32).This transition from "slavery" to freedom is a process that will last a lifetime.
May the Lord always give us this audacity, this step of a triumphant and irresistible faith that brings security in chaos, peace in trouble and joy in times of anguish we are going through.
Ezekiel 34:27 - They will be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I break the bonds of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them.
We come to the end of this article on the Good Shepherd. The last aspect of the role of pastoral ministry that I would like to address is the breaking of the yoke. Too many God's children bend under a yoke! This yoke is not, as we have seen before, a problem of bad spirit, but this yoke is a religious yoke.
Already the Lord Jesus reproached the Pharisees: "They bind burdensome burdens, and put them on the shoulders of men, but they do not wish to shake them" (Matthew 23: 4). The religiosity, the state of mind of the law encloses the children of God in a slavery that bends their backs. The power of the freedom of the gospel has been stifled by a series of do's and don'ts. These precepts seem "spiritual" but they deny the One who can give us strength to please God: the Holy Spirit! It is all about human effort, discipline, personal sanctification, like the "pastor" who pushed his community to very frequent fasts, fasting that he did not observe himself when he had serious problems of debauchery.
My beloved, the Good Shepherd will not be legalistic, he will not charge his "sheep" heavy burdens but he will lead his "flock" to the One who said: "Come to me, all of you who are tired and loaded, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and receive my instructions, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is sweet, and my burden light "(Matthew 11: 28-30).
Life with Christ is not a question of doing or not doing, it is a question of love. Obedience without love does not serve much, but obedience BY love for the Lord is the key. The Holy Spirit will come to make up for our weakness but let me tell you that the Holy Spirit will never work with religious rules.
My beloved ones, do not seek to "win" the love of God, you already have it! Let this love invade you, let your heart of stone be transformed into a heart of flesh. Enjoy life in God fully, obey Him because you love Him with passion. Any legalistic yoke will be broken and you will fly to Him with a light heart.
Dear pastoral friends, may these few words bless you and help you to exercise the wonderful ministry that the Lord has entrusted to you.
EZ37M © www.mfpg.be