A pastor is a minister called by God, a sacred teacher, who teaches God’s word. He doesn’t create scripture, or write scripture, but he is responsible for teaching it and carrying it out. The word pastor comes from the word for Shepherd. However, the analogy of a shepherd leading around a herd of dumb animals is not taken to the extreme. The authority of a pastor is balanced with competent congregationalism as he leads the church, while both are under the absolute authority of Jesus Christ and the word of God.
Galatians 1:15-2:10 reveal that the Apostle Paul’s calling as a minister was a call by God, not by any person. His ministry, though, was recognized and approved by the church.
The ministry of the pastor is viewed through scripture is several ways. In Matthew 13 the pastor is seen as a farmer sowing the seed of God’s word. In Acts 13, prophets and teachers are mentioned in the same context as those the church was sending out to preach and start new churches.
In Titus 2:7-8, Paul tells us that a minister teaches as a living example that cannot be condemned. The pastor has a high responsibility to equip and train believers. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 tell us that this ministry of teaching, if it is to succeed, is done on the foundation that is Jesus Christ. The pastor’s ministry will be tested, and if it is not on the right foundation it will be burned up.
Acts 18:1-6 teaches that a minister has the responsibility to maintain himself through paid work, but when the support exists, he is to devote himself fully to his ministry instead of giving time to other paid pursuits.
The pastor should be supported by those around him, as in Acts 18:24-28 when Apollos was sent to a new ministry with gladness and with a letter of support.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 reminds us that pastors are given to the ministry of reconciliation, not holding anyone’s sins against them, and forgiving as Christ forgives. We are Christ’s ambassadors and must act according to His desires and according to His example. At times this means we must struggle against our own nature to pursue gentleness, as in 1 Timothy 6:10-12.
Above all, 1 Timothy 6:20 teaches that a minister of God’s word must guard what has been entrusted to him, the gospel. He must never allow a failure in his own life to mar the gospel or God’s message.
This was the third installment in a four part series talking about the Priesthood of All Believers. The first part was an introduction to why this is an important subject to study and made the distinction between prophets and priests. The second part looked at how the priesthood developed and what it meant to be a priest, showing in detail how the priesthood of all believers cannot mean that each person is entitled to their own interpretation. The next and final part deals with the authority of a pastor and how that authority to lead the congregation does not contradict the teaching that we are all a royal priesthood.