When most of us think of a pastor we picture a man standing behind a podium and preaching a sermon. But a true pastor does much more than pulpit ministry.
An Encounter with a True Pastor
Not long ago I had been especially empty spiritually. I was wrestling with my calling–trying to figure out what God wanted me to do when I grow up when I spontaneously stopped by my friend’s office to see him. His name is Mac and he’s more than a friend. He’s also pastor.
Even though I had dropped by his workplace unannounced on a busy Monday, Mac didn’t show a moment’s indecision as he settled into a chair and invited me to do the same. For the next 90 minutes he poured God’s wisdom and comfort into me. As I walked away from that impromptu meeting I felt like I had just emerged from a cloud of consternation into the sunlight of certainty.
After I had a chance to reflect on that meeting I decided that we need more pastors. I don’t mean men who simply preach and teach, although they must do this, but men who care for their people personally and individually like the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to find the one (Mt. 18:12). But what does a pastor do?
Here are five things every true pastor does.
A True Pastor…
1. Maintains a Faithful Presence
Although my pastor-friend is bi-vocational, he’s pastored his congregation for more than a decade. Time and again he’s told me that all he wants to do is stay put and serve exactly where he is.
God often calls Himself a rock (Deut. 32:4; Ps. 18:31; 2 Sam. 22:32). The term “rock” describes God’s steadfastness, unchangeability, and strength. True pastors are rocks. We know that no matter where we may stray we can turn around and they’ll always be in the same place we left them. Such men provide stability in the midst of lives that are constantly in flux.
2. Makes Sure He’s Accessible
Simply serving in the same ministry for a long period of time does not ensure the pastor is accessible to the people who need him. Accessibility is a choice pastors need to make.
While many church members expect their pastors to be present to them every time they call or e-mail, this is not what accessibility means. Instead, accessibility is an attitude. It is a posture of being willing to stop what he’s doing when he sees someone whose faith is dangling by a thread. It means keeping his schedule doesn’t keep him from people when they need him most. What’s more, a true pastor makes himself accessible willingly. No one wants to meet with a man who thinks he’s doing you a favor by spending time with you.
3. Pursues Personal Holiness
You should be able to look at a pastor’s marriage, his finances, how many hours he works, and any other facet of his life and see the Gospel. This doesn’t mean the pastor is perfect. He’s a fallen human being who struggles with sin just like the people in the pews. But you should be able to imitate the pastor as he imitates Christ.
4. Gives Away Everything
I’m not just talking about material possessions and money, although he should be willing to make such sacrifices. Giving everything away has more to do with wisdom, knowledge, and skills. A true pastor passes on everything he learns. He invites you along on hospital visits, introduces you to the people in his network, and shares his books. He’s a man who shares the wisdom God has taught him and does so generously.
5. Leads His Sheep to Christ
A pastor is not simply a therapist. He is a man called and commissioned by God to equip the saints for the work of the ministry and for building up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). As such the pastor should apply God’s word to every situation his people encounter. He is not just dispensing good advice but declaring the Good News.
A Shepherd with His Sheep
What I’ve listed above is not all a true pastor does but it is at least what a true pastor does. Many men bear the title “pastor” but they limit themselves to the more public aspects of ministry. Such service is essential to his work, but the pastor’s calling finds its true fulfillment in the quiet, diligent walking alongside the sheep of his flock.
Have you ever been blessed by a pastor who does what is described in this post? Have you ever longed for a pastor who does those things?