In some ways, the transliteration of the word “pastor” from the Latin has been unfortunate. It gives freedom to define the role of “pastor” as something other than a “shepherd” – the meaning of the Greek term translated in English as “pastor.” For some, then, the modern role of the pastor must be “C.E.O.” He is the “mover and shaker” leading his congregation in vision casting and mission and pity the poor parishioner who gets in his way!
For others, the role of the pastor must be “Professional.” His ministry is all about professional development, professional conduct, and professional distance from those whom he leads.
For still others, the role of the pastor must be “Preacher.” His virtually only duty is to deeply study and proclaim the Word of God, appearing from the confines of his study Sunday morning and a scant few other times to announce the gems from God’s Word he has gleaned. Based on his strong commitment to the Word of God and to preaching, you might expect Dr. John MacArthur to be in the camp of the “Preacher.” Thankfully, he is not! He is in the camp of the pastor as shepherd, as he writes recently in his blog dated January 25, titled “More Than Just a Preacher.” Just think about his title– “More Than Just a Preacher!” I commend this article to all pastors who wish to fulfill their God-given role. MacArthur delineates the five central functions of a true pastor or shepherd. A shepherd is a rescuer, a feeder, a leader, a protector, and a comforter. According to MacArthur,
Church leaders are undershepherds who guard the flock under the Chief Shepherd’s watchful eye (Acts 20:28). Theirs is a full-time responsibility because they minister to people who, like sheep, often are vulnerable, defenseless, undiscerning, and prone to stray.
Those who are faithful to this enormous task will receive a rich reward from the Chief Shepherd Himself. In my experience as a pastor, we must keep all five functions in balance. For example, we can easily give all our attention to feeding. Quickly, however, we then lose passion and zeal as we lose personal sight of the desperate needs of God’s sheep. If the shepherd gives attention to all, all functions work together to deepen wonderfully the ministry of the shepherd. A shepherd giving attention to all functions will soon realize his absolute dependence upon the Chief Shepherd. Village Missions is looking for men who know their calling is to be a shepherd of the flock. We are actively working on ways to encourage them and support them in their role.