“And he (Christ) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” —Ephesians 4:11-12
After fighting in 3 wars, and serving our country for 30 years, my papaw retired, a high-ranking officer, from the U.S. Navy and eventually settled into a quieter life, as a farmer, with a small herd of cows. One of my fondest child-hood memories was going, along with my cousins, to feed Papaw’s cows! We’d cram into Papaw’s old pick-up (some in the cab, some in the back), and Papaw would sing old country tunes, in his deep booming voice, as we drove down to the pasture. The cows were usually way in the back pasture, in the woods, and would come running as they heard the familiar sound of the old truck’s honking horn. As they came closer, papaw would draw them in with his own unique “cow” call, which I can still hear, very fondly, in my memory.
I’d watch my Papaw as he walked among his herd, feeding them nutritious hay and cubes, carefully observing their health; checking for limps, infections, weight loss, pregnancy, and so forth. He’d pat their sides, lift up their hooves, check their eyes, and occasionally even talk to them, asking how they were doing! He would count to make sure none were missing, and if one was missing, we’d go looking for it. Papaw was intimately acquainted with his small heard, and he cared diligently for their well-being. Little did I know then, my Papaw was teaching me one of my most important lessons on being a shepherd, a pastor.
“Papaw was intimately acquainted with his small heard, and he cared diligently for their well-being. Little did I know then, my Papaw was teaching me one of my most important lessons on being a shepherd, a pastor.”
THE PASTOR(s)— Today, as we examine Ephesians 4:11-13, our goal is to better understand & appreciate the God-given gift of a godly pastor(s) to the church. According to Ephesians 4:8 & 11 Jesus “gave gifts to men;” apportioning a measure of grace (and giftedness) to each believer, as he sovereignly sees fit, and He “gave some (a gift to the church)…to be pastors and teachers.”
Below are three foundational truths, which I pray help us better understand and appreciate our pastor & the leaders within our church:
WHAT IS A PASTOR?
Pastors are men called by God to shepherd His flock. The Greek word for “pastor” in Ephesians 4:11 is “poimen (poy-mane), which literally translates as “shepherd.” It’s the same Greek word which I Peter 5:2 uses, in verb form, as Peter tells the elders to “Shepherd God’s flock that is under your care…” Additionally, Hebrews 13:17 tells the flock “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.” Pastors are accountable to God for the care of his precious sheep!
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A PASTOR?
The distinct purpose of a pastor, according to Ephesians 4:12 is “to equip the saints…” The Greek word, here, for equip is “katartismos,” which essentially means to “completely furnish.” In Matthew 4:21 “katartismos” is used to describe the disciples “mending” their fishing nets. The pastor’s purpose is to apply the healing, sanctifying gospel to broken, hurting, sinful people; to see them mended, matured, and made ready for living out their true, God-given purpose within the Body of Christ, for the glory of God!
The pastor’s purpose is to apply the healing, sanctifying gospel to broken, hurting, sinful people; to see them mended, matured, and made ready for living out their true, God-given purpose within the Body of Christ, for the glory of God!
WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF A PASTOR?
As Pastor John MacArthur points out, a pastor’s function is two-fold; to “lead & feed” the flock. The way Ephesians 4:11 is structured in the Greek has led many (if not most) to link “pastors and teachers” together (ie: “pastor-teachers.”) Or to put it more clearly, “pastors and teachers” in Ephesians 4:11 appears to describe one leadership office with two functions; overseeing & teaching.
Dr. Thomas Constable, of Dallas Theological Seminary articulates this idea very well: “The effective pastor . . . must be ‘among’ his people so that he can get to know them, their needs and problems; and he needs to be ‘over’ his people so he can lead them and help them solve their problems. There must be no conflict between pastoring and preaching, because they are both ministries of a faithful Shepherd. The preacher needs to be a pastor so he can apply the Word to the needs of the people. The pastor needs to be a preacher so that he can have authority (Word of God) when he shares in their daily needs and problems. The pastor is not a religious lecturer who weekly passes along information about the Bible. He is a shepherd who knows his people and seeks to help them through the Word.”
In closing, I once heard a wise pastor counsel younger pastors to “keep the smell of the sheep on you,” meaning to remain close to your flock; present in their midst, intimately involved in their lives. To this I’d add that a faithful pastor must also “keep the smell of God on you;” remaining steadfastly in prayer, in the study of God’s Word, and ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit. A pastor’s job is to know the needs of the sheep & to faithfully apply the Word of God to those needs.
Praise God for His gift of godly pastors to His church!