Signs of the Pastoral Calling
Introduction to the Pastor
This course is the final one God led me to complete amongst the Fivefold Ministries.
I guess that is because today the pastor is considered the most insignificant ministry of the five. But this is not true at all. In fact the pastor is almost as significant as the apostle, except at a lower level.
Let me give you a quick comparison of the two:
1. The main function of the apostle is to set the church in order; to put each ministry in its rightful place in the Body of Christ and to create a church according to the correct pattern.
2. The main function of the pastor is to set a church in order; to put each ministry in its rightful place in the local church and to create a local church according to the right pattern.
Now don’t you think that there is a great similarity between the two? In fact, if you did not read carefully, you may have mistakenly assumed that the main function of the pastor is the same as that of the apostle.
In a sense this is true, but the difference lies in the scope or realm in which each works.
The pastor operates purely in the local church and not the universal church. There is no Pastoral Office that embraces the entire Body of Christ, as we have for the apostle and prophet, and also the teacher.
The pastor is placed into office only in a local church. And his or her realm of authority and operation applies only to that local church.
The apostle on the other hand is placed in office in the Universal Church. And his or her realm of authority and operation applies to all churches everywhere.
Yes, it is also true that each apostle has a mandate which I have pictured as their own garden, where they exercise influence and control.
But the function of the Apostolic Office embraces all believers everywhere and is therefore not confined to a single local church.
In the Acts of the Apostles you will see the pastors listed as elders or overseers (bishops are the same as overseers).
They are placed into office by an apostle – usually the apostle who is presiding over that local church as part of his garden. And their realm of authority and function does not extend to any other churches.
The only time this can happen is if there is a main church with sub branches. Then the elders of the main church will be considered as senior elders.
Why the Pastor is Important
Although today everyone wants to be a prophet or apostle, the reality is that before you can rise up into full Apostolic Office, you will first need to learn the ropes at a lower level in the local church.
That means you should first have learned all the functions of the pastor and proved them in a local church situation before you will qualify to move to the higher level. You cannot put the Universal Church in order until you have proved some of the patterns in a local church.
Another mistake that is commonly made today is that pastors who have risen up and built a large congregation, seem to think that they are now qualified to call themselves apostles.
But no true apostle can ever be confined to a local church. The chances are you will start out as a pastor. Then the Lord will add the teaching and prophetic calling to your ministry.
Now you may qualify to rise up into Apostolic Ministry and finally Apostolic Office. But before you can do that, you will have to let go of the reins of the local church that you are pastoring.
You cannot pastor a local church as an apostle. You can only oversee it after you have placed someone else into Pastoral Office to run that church.
Can you see now why the pastoral calling is far from one of the most insignificant of the Five.
I would consider it the starting point for anyone who aspires to one of the full ministry offices. The teacher should start out as a pastor, becoming a Pastor-Teacher before moving up into full Teaching Office.
The prophet should learn to identify ministries in the local church while still carrying out the functions of a pastor.
And if you are called to or aspire to the highest calling of apostle, there is no better preparation for this than spending time as the pastor of a local church.
With all of these important principles in mind, I would now like to show you what the pastor should look like and how you can rise up and become a pastor in the Fivefold Ministry.
Chapter 01 – Meeting the Needs of the People
Psalm 23:1 to 6 says,
The LORD [Yahweh] [is] my shepherd; I shall never be in need.
He causes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me to a resting place by the water.
He restores my soul: he leads me on the right path to glorify his name.
Even though I pass through the narrow valley overshadowed by death, I will not be afraid of wickedness because you [are] with me; your club and your shepherd’s staff they convict and comfort me.
You arrange a king’s banquet before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my container is overflowing.
Truly good things and kindness will run after me every day of my life: and I will remain in the house of the LORD [Yahweh] for the duration.
Today the term pastor has come to mean something very different to what it was meant to be originally. Perhaps the reason most of us have lost the true meaning, is because we have never seen the Eastern shepherd at work.
If you want to recognize a Pastoral Ministry, you need to understand what a true shepherd is.
We are going to be looking at some of the signs of the pastoral calling. To do that we need to understand how a shepherd works, because the words shepherd and pastor are exactly the same thing in Scripture.
You can go right back into the Old Testament and look up the word pastor and you will find it there. Pastor was there way back then and the Israelites were shepherds.
Remember when they came to Egypt and Joseph spoke to Pharaoh on their behalf concerning a land that would be given to them. He told Pharaoh,
“My family are shepherds, and we need land where they can bring their flocks.”
Shepherding and sheep were a normal part of life for the children of Israel. And that concept of the shepherd as being the leader of the flock has been brought right into the New Testament.
In the New Testament you read that God gave the fivefold ministry to the church. Included in that five is the word pastor, and when you read it you can put the word shepherd in there. It is the same thing.
If you are to understand the pastor, you will have to understand how a shepherd works.
And if you see exactly how a shepherd works and should work, you will understand how a pastor should work. This is because the pastor is a type or a picture of the work of a shepherd.
In this section I would like to look at various aspects of the shepherd and see how they apply to the pastor.
We are going to start by looking at the Eastern shepherd, then we are going to consider the pictures that Jesus gave us of Himself as being the Good Shepherd. From these we will get some very clear pictures of exactly what is involved in the Pastoral Ministry.
Finally we are going to summarize it, and consider the actual signs that you can look for in identifying the ministry of a pastor or shepherd.
The Eastern Shepherd
As we come to look at the Eastern shepherd, we find that the Eastern shepherd is very easily identifiable.
The picture that is always painted in the Scriptures and in real life, is the picture of the shepherd putting out his sheep and walking ahead of them.
As the shepherd walks, the sheep come trailing behind him. It is the standard picture of the Eastern shepherd.
I have shared this story concerning the Eastern shepherd before in other places, but I am going to share it again here because it is relevant.
The story is told of somebody who visited the Holy Land, and for the first time went to look and see the Eastern shepherd in action.
He had read so much about the Eastern shepherd, how he goes ahead of the sheep, but had never seen it. He couldn’t wait to see it actually taking place the way it was described.
He hurried out to where the sheep were to see how the shepherd worked, and as he approached he saw a flock of sheep running down the road.
However, instead of a shepherd walking ahead of them, there was a man behind them with a whip, driving them, beating them and pushing them down the road. He was amazed and said,
“That isn’t the way I have seen it taught. Have they changed it? Don’t they do it the same way anymore?”
He got hold of one of the people in the area and said,
“Please explain this to me. I always understood that the Eastern shepherd was the shepherd who walked ahead of his sheep and the sheep followed him. How come this shepherd is standing behind the sheep and driving them?”
The person he was talking to just laughed and said,
“Oh no you’ve got it all wrong. That’s not the shepherd with the sheep. That is the butcher who’s driving them to the market.”
You can see the picture very clearly. The shepherd goes ahead of the sheep. The one who stands behind the sheep and drives them is not the shepherd at all.
David the Shepherd
David was a shepherd. He was called from the sheepfold to be anointed to be king of Israel. You did not pick that kind of job. It was one of the lowest forms of work. It was the kind of work you gave to the black sheep of the family (pardon the pun).
David was the little nobody. He was the little younger brother that you gave all the dirty work to, so he had the dirty work of looking after the sheep.
But David understood what it was to be a shepherd. That is why when he penned those words in Psalm 23, he understood exactly what was involved in being a shepherd. He took that picture and he translated it to the Lord.
He began to see that the Lord was the shepherd, and that he was the Lord’s sheep. And knowing how a shepherd should really be, he saw in the Lord every good quality that there should be in a shepherd.
Qualities of a Shepherd
Then came the greatest shepherd of all – the Lord Jesus Himself. Jesus again gave us another description; another picture of what the true shepherd should look like.
I would like to combine those two descriptions together in this section to find some qualities that you should look for and identify in one who is to be a shepherd.
As you identify those qualities, you are also going to be able to identify the qualities that should exist in one who is called to be God’s shepherd, the pastor of the flock.
He Meets Their Needs First
In Psalm 23:1 David says,
The LORD [Yahweh] [is] my shepherd; I shall never be in need.
This is kind of a summary of the whole goal and purpose of the shepherd. This is the final result of what should take place when the shepherd is doing his job correctly. When he is being a true shepherd the sheep should never have a need.
The shepherd is to make sure that his sheep does not lack for anything. His prime concern is their needs first. He puts their needs first above everything else.
If you are going to look for one who has the ministry and the calling of a pastor, you are going to have to find somebody who puts the needs of his flock ahead of his own. He must be one whose prime concern is for the people that he is leading.
He is concerned about them. If he is doing his job correctly, those who are in his flock and who are following his leadership should be able to say,
“With this man as our leader and our shepherd we have never lacked for anything. Our needs have all been met.”
Anybody who fails to fulfill that calling is not a pastor. He is not a shepherd.
He Provides Rest and Provision
David says in Psalm 23:2,
He causes me to lie down in green pastures…
The sheep should be in a place of rest. I want you to visualize this picture. The shepherd has led his sheep to a beautiful meadow that is full of wonderful green grass for them to feed on.
He stands there with his shepherd’s staff, brings them one at a time and says,
“You have five minutes to eat finished because we have to get moving.”
Can you see that?
“Okay, you’ve eaten enough now get. Give somebody else a turn now. Next… One at a time. Hey you’re fat enough.”
Can you see the shepherd being like that? No, he brings his sheep and he causes them to lie down. They don’t just come to where the food is good. He makes them sleep in it until they are saturated with it.
He lets them eat until they are full. And you know what happens when you are full? Your eyes start to close. The shepherd is there to make sure that the sheep are fed, are satisfied, and are at a place of contentment and rest.
They are not force-fed or forced to eat what they do not want to eat. Nothing is withheld from them either if they are hungry. They are fed on good food, not dry grass. The shepherd does not say,
“That green pasture is too far away. These dumb sheep can live off this grass down here. It may not be the best, but oh well it’s food. Let them eat. Who cares, they are just dumb sheep.”
What kind of shepherd is that? He is not God’s kind of shepherd.
Do you know something about sheep? When they are allowed to lie down and rest and eat to their heart’s content, you do not see any conflict, bickering or fighting. You don’t see one sheep saying to another,
“Hey, get out of the way. I want that piece of grass there. I saw it first.”
It does not happen when there is plenty of grass to go round or when the sheep are lying down. It is a bit difficult to fight when you are lying down. It is a place of rest, contentment and being fully satisfied.
The pastor does not hammer the flock. He doesn’t browbeat them and push them, and force them into something that they do not want.
The pastor is one who brings the flock to a place where their needs are met, and where they can rest in the Lord. They can rest in His provision and can be satisfied and contented. Any person who fails to do that is not a pastor.
David says in Psalm 23:2,
… he leads me to a resting place by the water.
You know there is something about water that is so relaxing. It just seems to bring rest and peace doesn’t it? We sometimes travel great distances to go and have a picnic, and always the best place to have a picnic is where there is water.
It is great having a place with beautiful green grass. That is a good place to have a picnic too. But there is just something about having water there as well.
There is something wonderful about having that beautiful green grass to sit on or lie down on. But it is even better to just sit next to water, whether it be cool, clear still water, or a bubbling brook.
There is something about water that brings life. It brings peace and contentment, and an atmosphere in which you can relax and rest.
So the shepherd is to bring the sheep not only to the green grass or to rest in the meadows, but to rest by the waters. Why is this? Because after you have had a meal you usually need something to drink.
It is a bit dry just chewing on that hay all the time. You need to have a bit of water to go with it.
The Word and Anointing
What are we talking about here? The pastor must be someone who is able to meet the needs of the flock.
They must be fed on the Word and partake of the anointing of the Spirit of God. The pastor is one who gives an adequate balance between the Spirit and the Word.
Some other ministries over-emphasize one or the other. The teacher just loves the Word. He wants to feed people the meat of the Word.
He wants to give them the bread of the Word. He wants to get them full, until they are so full they are dying of thirst, but he is going to give them some more food.
The prophet just loves the anointing, the glory and the worship.
He says, “We don’t have time to preach the Word. We just worshiped for an hour and a half tonight. We didn’t get time to preach.”
The teacher on the other hand says,
“Cut the preliminaries and the worship and just get into the Word.”
If you want to be a pastor you will have to be a bit of both. You are going to have to learn to balance.
You will have to bring the flock to a place where they are fed. Then you will have to bring them to a place where they can receive the anointing of the Spirit of God as well.
I am sure you have heard that old saying that says,
“If you just live on the Word all the time you will dry up. If you just live on the Spirit all the time you will blow up. You get the two in balance and you will grow up.”
Well the pastor wants to teach the flock to grow up, so he will have to balance the Spirit and the Word.
This is no ordinary person. This is someone who is able to feed the flock from the Word. And he can also to bring the flock into the presence of the Holy Spirit. We will look more at this as we go on.
Allows Emotional Expression
David says of the Lord his Shepherd in Psalm 23:3,
He restores my soul…
That is just a small little phrase, and I dare say most people who have quoted Psalm 23 just kind of skimmed over that and said,
“Well I don’t really know what that means, but it sounds good.”
There is a wealth of meaning in there.
What is the soul? The soul is the place of the mind, the emotions and the will.
The soul is the place where your personality or your real self is to be found. It is the entire seat of all you are and your whole control tower.
Within your soul there is a need for desires and for feelings to be expressed. The pastor is to encourage and help the flock to meet their desires and to fulfill them.
He is to encourage them to express the feelings of their soul. To do this he will have to give them a chance for emotional expression.
That is part of what is involved in restoring the soul. It is to allow the soul to be healthy. The emotions will have to be catered to, and desires will have to be met. The feelings will have to be satisfied if the soul is to be restored.
How about the mind? Your mind is filled with goals, plans and dreams.
The pastor is one who should be encouraging each person in his or her personal goals and plans. He should be helping them to see a possibility of fulfilling those goals, plans and those bubbling ideas that have been going through their minds.
The soul has a will, and the will wants to do something. The will cannot be passive. It must act and must do something. The pastor is one who must allow personal expression of each person’s will.
He must allow each member in the flock to be able to do something; to be able to take those desires, goals, plans and dreams and put them into motion.
If you are not doing that, you are not restoring the soul of the sheep, and you are not fulfilling the calling of a pastor.
Acceptance and Recognition
Within the soul lies the basic human need for acceptance and recognition. The pastor has to know how to make each person in that flock feel that they are accepted and part of the flock.
He must know how to give recognition to the accomplishments, talents and abilities of every single member of the flock. He must meet the need for acceptance and recognition in the flock. All of these are involved in restoring the soul.
Do you want to be a pastor? This is going to be one of your prime objectives and goals.
Do you think God has called you to be a pastor? Then you will have to know how to do this.
You are going to have to know how to bring people to a place where their soul is healthy and functioning the way God intended it to, and it is going to cost you. We will be looking at that more.
Chapter 02 – A True Leader and Loving Shepherd
David says in Psalm 23:3,
… he leads me on the right path to glorify his name.
The pastor must be a person of integrity. He must have a reputation to uphold, and to uphold that reputation and integrity, he leads the sheep on the right path.
Why? Because people are going to look at the sheep and they are going to know what the pastor stands for.
As the sheep begin to rise up and walk on the paths of righteousness in accordance with God’s ways, people are going to look at that flock.
They are going to see the qualities of the shepherd reflected in them. People are not going to judge the shepherd by how big his flock is, but by the condition of the flock.
You can gather a whole lot of sheep together and they can be a wild bunch. But when you see in the sheep the integrity and the qualities of the shepherd, that is when you shake your head and say,
“Oh yes, I can see a pastor who has given his all. He has imparted to his flock that which is in his own heart. He has made them into the same person of integrity that he is.”
That is how a pastor builds a name for himself. He does it by building it into the flock, and by leading them in right paths for his name’s sake or for his reputation’s sake. That is what counts as far as your reputation is concerned.
People will not judge a pastor by how much finances there are in the church or by how many people attend the meetings. People will judge him by the condition of the flock and by the lives that they lead which he has built into them.
There During Testing Times
David says in Psalm 23:4,
Even though I pass through the narrow valley overshadowed by death, I will not be afraid of wickedness because you [are] with me …
What is he talking about? What is this narrow valley that is overshadowed by death? Those who have been through prophetic preparation and training know what we are talking about here.
Death has become a catch phrase and a way of life for them. They understand what it is all about. They know what the valley of the shadow of death is because they have gone through it many times.
The description in the Hebrew is that of a steep, narrow valley where you are hedged in on both sides. You are walking in danger. Death is hovering over you.
Every one of God’s children has to go through a time of being dealt with; of applying to their own lives the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As you become identified with Him in His death, burial and resurrection, you are made into His likeness and His image.
We have to be identified with Him in His death. We are going to go through periods of birth, death and resurrection of a vision. We will go through phases where death is being applied, to deal with sin and sinful templates in our lives.
People are going to go through tough times. They will be subjected to attack from the enemy. But God is going to use it to bring them into that place of greater spirituality.
One Who Cares
At a time like that you can feel all alone. Sometimes it seems that nobody in the world cares and that not even the Lord cares.
When the sheep go through such a time, there should always be one who cares. There should always be one who stays with them and is always there for them. Who is that? It is the pastor. They should say,
“Though I go through that valley overshadowed by death, I know you are still with me. I know you are not going to reject me or turn your back on me.”
That member of the flock may be thrashing about in confusion and sin is being manifest in their lives. They may be tempted and assailed from all sides. They don’t know where to turn to and don’t know up from down anymore.
At times like this they need a shepherd that will stay with them and say,
“I’m here for you when you need me.”
They do not need someone who will say,
“You’re bringing a bad name to me and to this congregation. Please will you leave.”
Stays With the Flock
A pastor is one who will stick with that member even when they fail miserably; when they fall into sin, when they become confused or show a rebellious attitude at times.
They are going through the valley of the shadow of death. They need the shepherd to be with them. Why is this?
David says in Psalm 23:4,
… your club and your shepherd’s staff they convict and comfort me.
In the King James Version the word club is translated as rod. Both of those meanings are implied in the Hebrew word there – to bring to repentance and to comfort.
When a person is thrashing around and going through the throes of death, sin is being exposed in them. It is being dealt with and God is bringing them to righteousness.
He is dealing with the templates in their lives in order to remove the sin, and sometimes it takes a rebuke. Sometimes it takes the club to do this. You give them a smack on the head and say,
“Hey, stop it at once. Pull yourself together; you’re out of order. Can’t you see what’s happening and what Satan is trying to do in your life? Can’t you see that this temptation is going to destroy you?”
There comes a time for rebuke, when the shepherd must take the club.
Why? To stop the person from going off into wickedness, to stop them from being led astray and from falling away from the Lord altogether. It is going to bring them to repentance.
There is a time when the sheep is going to fall in the hole; when it cannot get out of the thicket that it has been caught in. This is the time when the shepherd will need to put in his staff, put it around the sheep and pull it out.
He is going to pull him out and protect him. He will pull him out of the sin and out of what he has fallen into. He will drag him out of the curse that he has come under. He will set the sheep free, comfort and strengthen him.
Both of these areas are necessary. A pastor is one who has to be able to confront and rebuke, but also encourage, lift up and pull out.
He will have to be able to do both. This is how he will allow people to go through those times of dealings in their lives and come out of it on top, instead of their lives being destroyed.
Provides a Safe Haven
David says in Psalm 23:5,
You arrange a king’s banquet before me in the presence of my enemies …
What is he speaking about? Here the sheep are in the middle of the enemy. There are wolves and bears all around and enemies out there to destroy. There may be snakes in the field or other things that are a danger to the flock.
The life that we face is not a comfortable one. We go out into the world during the week and we face an onslaught from the realm of darkness.
Every child of God goes out into the world. They go to their work place and to their activities during the week and they face the enemies.
It is not an easy life. And at the end of the week or whenever there is a time of getting together and gathering the flock, they come together and they have been browbeaten and under attack all week.
They come together into the presence of the shepherd. They are feeling down, discouraged and depressed.
At a time like this they do not need someone to stand up and browbeat them some more. Anybody who does that is not a shepherd. He is not a pastor.
David says in the verse that I shared above,
“In the presence of my enemies, He invites me to a table that is arranged with a banquet that is fit for a king.”
The table spoken of there is the king’s table. The king’s table was a special table. It was a table where the best delicacies were.
That was where the best food could be found; a place where you could sit around, have a sumptuous feast and be satisfied to the full.
When God’s flock come together after having faced the onslaught of the enemy out there, they want to come to the table and eat. They want to come and enjoy themselves and have fun and come to a place of celebration.
If you are a pastor it is your responsibility to provide the king’s table for God’s flock.
Although the enemy has assailed them from all sides, they can come into the presence of the Lord. They can gather together as a flock and come into the presence of the shepherd.
They can know that their needs will be met, and that every desire of their heart will be fulfilled. It is going to be a haven of rest; a time of coming to enjoy the presence of the Lord and His blessing, after having faced such a difficult time all week.
If you cannot do that or are not prepared to do that, then you do not have a pastoral calling. It is the function of the pastor to provide that for the flock.
He Releases the Anointing
David says in Psalm 23:5,
… you anoint my head with oil; my container is overflowing.
The pastor should be giving out the anointing continually. He should be causing the sheep to be Spirit-filled at all times. I want you to see an interesting concept here. David says,
“He anoints my head with oil.”
What is he speaking about? He is speaking about the oil being poured upon the head. What kind of anointing is that referring to? It is the external anointing.
It is coming upon him and causing the glow and the beautiful feeling that takes place when the anointing oil comes over the head. The pastor should know how to move in the external anointing.
David says something else. He says,
“My container is overflowing. It is bubbling up from inside of me and pouring out.”
What kind of anointing is that? It is the internal anointing.
The pastor is responsible to make sure that the sheep know how to move in both the internal and external anointing. He is responsible to make sure that when people come together in the presence of the Lord, that God’s power is manifested in their midst.
He must see to it that people know how to tap into that inner anointing of the Spirit of God, and be able to pour out the river of life from within.
The pastor must know how to move in the anointing. If you want to be a pastor you had better know how to move in the anointing. Do not think that it is only the other ministries that move in those.
Yes the prophet really knows how to move in the internal anointing. The evangelist knows how to move in the signs and wonders and the external anointing.
But the pastor has to bring them together. He must be able to teach people and cause them to flow in both.
He Shows Continual Kindness
Finally David says in Psalm 23:6,
Truly good things and kindness will run after me every day of my life …
The pastor should be showing his flock how to walk in blessing. Every pastor should know about The New Way of Blessing.
He should always be displaying kindness. The pastor should be teaching people by example in his own kindness. He should be showing them how to be kind to one another so that they are always walking in good things.
When you are kind to one another you begin to contribute and give to one another. And when you see somebody that is in need, you reach out to meet that need so that they always have good things.
In this way nobody in the flock is lacking in anything. And continual kindness is being displayed and being shown all the time.
If you are not able to do that then you cannot be a pastor. And if you are not prepared to do that then forget about being a pastor. It is your responsibility to make sure that the flock have every good thing and are kind to one another.
He Encourages Sheep to Stay
David says in Psalms 23:6,
… I will remain in the house of the LORD [Yahweh] for the duration.
I have heard this being said so often. People say,
“Pastor So-and-so, I really do not want to have anything to do with that man. He’s a sheep stealer.
Everybody has been leaving their churches to go to him. He’s been drawing people away from other congregations and he’s been stealing other pastors’ sheep.”
It could be that he is the only real pastor around and that he is fulfilling the needs of the flock. It could be that he is being what a shepherd should really be, and that is why the flock are going to him.
When the shepherd is doing his job correctly the flock will be there for the duration. They are not planning to leave. You will not get them to leave for anything.
They would be stupid to leave. Who would want to leave when you have someone who cares for your needs so adequately?
Chapter 03 – What Jesus Taught About Pastors
He is Open and Transparent
Jesus says concerning the false shepherd,
He that does not enter the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way is a thief and a robber. He that enters through the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
What is He saying? He is saying the pastor is not evasive, sneaky and backhanded. He is open and transparent. He makes his intentions clear. Everyone can see it and they know exactly where he is coming from.
The pastor has nothing to hide. He should be able to be transparent with the flock.
He comes walking in the door. He doesn’t come jumping in the back way when they are not looking, then use guile and deception to get them to do what he wants them to do.
Such a person is not a true shepherd. If you are a pastor, you will have to be transparent, open and honest with the flock.
To him the doorkeeper opens.
The pastor has the ability to encourage people to open up to him and to share their innermost hearts with him.
That is part of the gift and the calling of the pastor. He just has that something that makes you want to tell him your secrets. You want to open your heart wide and say,
“Come on in. I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ll share everything with you. I’ll tell you whatever you need to know.”
He is a person who can be trusted.
He Gets Their Attention
Jesus said the sheep listen to His voice. The pastor is somebody who does not need to demand attention. When he speaks people listen because they want to. I have heard preachers say in the middle of their message,
“Are you listening to me?”
I guess it helps wake people up when they are going to sleep. When you are speaking, if people are nodding off, getting bored and looking somewhere else, maybe you are not a pastor.
People will hear your voice if you are a true shepherd. They will listen to you. You will not have to demand it by saying,
“Now I’m the pastor around here so you guys better listen to me.”
If you have to do that then you are not a pastor because they are not listening.
Jesus says He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He puts out His own sheep, He goes before them and the sheep follow Him because they know His voice.
The pastor pays personal attention to each person. They are not just a number to him. They are not just,
“The person who sits in the second pew over there with a funny hat on.”
They are not just,
“That fat woman that always sits over there at the back. That skinny guy that always fidgets in the front row there while I’m trying to preach.”
He knows them by name. He knows who they are. He has become personally involved in their lives and has given personal attention to each one.
He goes ahead of the sheep to show them the way. The pastor will never ask anything of the sheep that he is not prepared to do himself.
Anybody who is not capable, able or willing to do that, does not qualify for the calling of a shepherd or pastor in God’s Kingdom.
A stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they do not know the voice of strangers.
The Eastern Shepherd
I am told that in the East several shepherds can come together and mix their flocks together in one field. There can be four or five shepherds and their sheep mixed together.
A shepherd will stand up. He will make a certain call or sound and then he will walk.
Each one of his sheep from amongst his flock will get up, and they will come to him and follow after him. He will stop and check them and he will know each one of them, and he will know that his flock is complete.
The shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep know their shepherd. When somebody else comes and makes a sound and gets up to walk the sheep do not follow him. They do not know his voice. He is not their shepherd.
What am I talking about here? I am saying that a pastor is the kind of person who should demand such loyalty, intimacy and relationship from the flock, that not only does he know them, but they know and respect and believe in him, and they will follow him.
He does not need to be afraid that someone else is going to come and lead them astray. He does not need to be afraid that some visiting preacher will draw them away, or that Pastor So-and-so down the road is going to steal his sheep.
If they do that, they were not his sheep in the first place, nor was he their shepherd in the first place. He did not fulfill the pastoral calling.
If you are a pastor your sheep are going to be loyal to you. They will know your voice and you will care for them.
You do not need to be afraid that they will follow the voice of a stranger. They will know your voice. They will heed what you say and will follow and respect you in the Lord, because that is the gift and calling of a pastor that God has placed in you.
It will be manifest, and it will become obvious when that ministry is demonstrated in the church of Jesus Christ.
He Gives Life
The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and destroy. I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.
The pastor is to bring life to the sheep, not to fleece them. The thief is the one who wants to fleece them. The thief is the one who wants to steal from them and wants to get from them all that he can.
The thief is the one who is always telling the flock what his needs are and telling them that they must meet his needs first.
The thief is the one who keeps telling the flock that they are responsible to him first. The shepherd is one who comes to give life, not to steal and to fleece the flock.
Prepared to Be a Nothing
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his (psuche) life for the sheep.
The pastor is one who is prepared to give his soul for the flock. What does that mean? It means he is prepared to forego recognition for their benefit.
He must be prepared to be trampled in the dust so that they can be exalted and lifted up. He is prepared to face rejection for their benefit. He is prepared to go without so that their needs can be met first.
If you are not prepared to do that for the flock, then God did not call you to be a pastor and you do not have the pastoral calling. You also do not have the commitment to be a pastor of God’s flock.
He Defends His Flock
He that is a hired hand and not the shepherd that does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf catches them and scatters the sheep.
The pastor will defend his flock from any attack from the outside. He will fight for them when they are under spiritual attack. He will defend them when the world is pressing them.
He will drive away the false prophets and the false teachers and those who would come in to scatter the flock and to lead them astray.
If he does not do this then he is not a pastor. A pastor is concerned for the flock first, even if it means that he has to do without, or even if it means that he has to fight and give his all.
He does it on behalf of the flock because he cares for them. He is the good shepherd.
He is Vulnerable and Open
I am the good Shepherd and I know my sheep and I am known by my sheep.
The pastor must know each one under his care; not just know them, but know them well. To get to know somebody well you are going to have to become vulnerable and available to them.
It is not easy to stand in a place of leadership, to try and keep up appearances. You try and win people’s respect and still be vulnerable enough to be open to them, to show them what is really inside and what kind of person you really are.
Perhaps if some ministries did that they would not be as successful. If a prophet comes in, it is better that people do not know him and that he does not know anyone. Then he can move by revelation and he can speak the Word of God.
People will then be awed and stirred, and their faith will be lifted up, because God has revealed through that person.
That is why a pastor and a prophet cannot mix. That is why a pastor cannot function as a prophet and a prophet cannot function as a pastor at the same time. You can only do one or the other. You cannot mix the two.
Only the pastor must be vulnerable and open to his people because he has to be one with them. He must know them intimately.
He must earn the right for them to open their hearts to him and to share everything with him, because a trust has been established between them.
Only God can give a man or a woman the ability to be such a person.
Chapter 04 – Signs to Look for in a Pastor
I have covered a lot of ground in this section and I have only just taken two passages. You could probably find a whole lot more.
However now I want to just give you a kind of a summary of the signs that you need to look for when you try to identify one who is called to the Pastoral Ministry.
I want you to realize that as you look for these signs, you are not to look for someone who is naturally gifted in these things. You are not to look for a person who is amiable in temperament and therefore naturally a people person.
Such a person might be able to function well in Pastoral Ministry, but it takes the gift, calling, anointing and ability of God. It sometimes takes the dealings of God to bring a person to the place where they are prepared to be that kind of leader.
These then are the qualities you should be looking for.
A Caring Leader
The pastor is one who cares for the welfare of others. He puts others first. He is not wrapped up in himself.
The pastor is someone who has a following. He is a true leader. He goes ahead of the sheep and he leads by example.
The pastor is someone who is able to teach the Word in a way that people can be spiritually fed from it. Yes, the pastor should be able to teach. He should be able to feed the Word in such a way that people can benefit from it.
The pastor is someone who knows the Spirit of God and is able to minister the anointing to others.
Brings Out the Best
The pastor is someone who is able to identify and bring out the gifts and talents in others. He can look at a person, assess them, get to know them and identify their gifts and talents.
Then he can encourage and bring them out. He can help that person to be able to display and to use the abilities that God has put into them.
The pastor is someone who is able to treat someone the same, irrespective of their spiritual condition. In human terms it means you have to be prepared to change diapers.
It means you are going to have to learn to be with a person when they are ugly. You will have to love them even when they are very unlovable.
The pastor loves people and is not wrapped up in himself. You are going to have to be a people person if you want to be a pastor. You will have to care for others. People will have to be important to you and not things.
The pastor is someone whom people feel comfortable with and will share their hearts with. He is someone whom people respect and love; someone who cares enough to confront and correct as well as encourage.
The pastor is not afraid to get his hands dirty on behalf of someone else. What does that mean?
It means if you have to go into the pub to go and bring your member out, go and do it. Do not be so super-spiritual that you will not associate with somebody in that condition.
The pastor is someone who has confidence in what God has placed in him.
You had better believe in what God has put in you. You had better have confidence in yourself and the Lord if you are going to have the audacity to lead others, to tell them and show them how to live.
If you do not have confidence in yourself and the Lord, how are you going to inspire confidence in others?
The pastor is someone who believes in the people that he leads. He believes in them enough to let them slip and fall. He believes in them enough to lift them up, to spend time with them, and to travail with them.
He will follow through with them. He will spend whole nights if necessary, and go without sleep, food and the comforts of life on behalf of the flock. That is the shepherd’s heart.
Helping You Rise Up
As we look at the subject of the pastor that we have started here, we are going to recognize these qualities of pastorship and are going to help people to develop them.
We are going to take these qualities and show you by the Word of God, how to take what God has called you to display and to develop them.
Then, by the Spirit of God, you will begin to apply and use them to rise up and be the kind of leader that God has called you to be.
You can be the kind of shepherd and the kind of pastor that Jesus would be proud to say,
“Now that is a person who truly reflects all the qualities of the good shepherd.”
That is the biblical picture. And those are the signs that will show you that you are in the presence of a pastor.