The Role of the Pastor

A pastor is an elder but an elder is not always a pastor. A pastor is the shepherd of the local body. The word pastor means shepherd. The responsibilities of a pastor are to teach and guide the local congregation in the things of God. A pastor provides spiritual direction and pursues a vision for the church. The church's vision is based on the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20. Any vision that distracts the pastor or the church from the Great Commission is not of God. To be a leader, one must be pursuing a worthy mission so that he may be an example by service and not by directing others only. Jesus provided the method of leadership in Matthew 20:25-28. The church is not to be like the world around us where a leader lords over those under him. In God’s plan, the leader humbles himself and serves the brethren rather than sitting on a pedestal being served by others.

References: 1 Peter 5:1, Matthew 28:19-20, Matthew 20:25-28

Pastors are ordained by God

God alone can ordain a pastor. Men may ordain a man that is not called by God, but man-made ordinations are meaningless. Man may refuse to ordain a pastor, but if God has called a man to be a pastor, He will equip him and use him regardless of whether the church organization acknowledges that call or not. The prophet Amos was rejected by the religious hierarchy of his day and was told not to speak the word of the Lord. When asked what gave him the right to speak God’s word, he said, “I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet. I am a shepherd and a tender of fruit. God called me out of the field and told me to go speak to His people.”

It is God that ordains and calls a pastor, elders and teachers. A man does not have the right to choose a calling that God has not chosen. A pastor does not have the right to resign from God’s calling either. God calls, equips and gives the increase. Throughout scripture, we see God choosing unlikely candidates that do not appeal to men. God looks on the heart and His strength is made perfect in weakness. He calls the humble and equips His servants to perform His work. Ordination comes from God alone. It may be acknowledged by the church that is faithfully following God’s plan; however, the call and ordination comes from God.

References: Romans 13:1, John 15:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 12:28, 1 Timothy 2:5-7, 2 Timothy 1:9

Pastors are empowered by God with the vision Jesus gave the church.

The vision of Jesus Christ was given to the church in Matthew 28:18-20. The only vision given is to go and make disciples of all nations, baptize them in Jesus' name and teach them to observe and obey all that has been commanded in the word of God. The pastor's role is to oversee this instruction to the local body, to communicate that vision to the people, find ways to equip others to answer that call, and implement this into the community through the local church body. God provides the vision and then commits the direction of the church to the pastor and elders of the church. A pastor should take care to seek God’s face and then faithfully execute the vision of the church to accomplish God’s purpose. A pastor should be consistently communicating the vision given by Christ to the local congregation while equipping them to take on the role God has ordained through each member.

References: Matthew 28:18-20, Ephesians 4:11-16, 1 Timothy 4:14-16, Ephesians 5:15-17, 2 Chronicles 6:3-5

A Pastor serves

A pastor’s role is to serve the congregation in the way God has equipped him to serve. A pastor was never intended to sit high above the people or to be worshipped by the people. A pastor and all church leaders should be following the example of Jesus to humble himself and become a servant to others. Pride destroys but humility is always honored by God. A pastor is on equal footing with the lowliest position in the church. God equips and ordains each one for different positions within the church; however, each individual has equal worth and is measured by God according to faithfulness – not status.

References: Matthew 20:25-28, Proverbs 16:18, James 4:10, 1 Corinthians 12:14-23

Pastors are subject to accountability

A common error that is found in most churches is the misconception of pastor accountability. A pastor may take his direction and vision from God, but that does not nullify the biblical mandate for accountability. To neglect accountability is to set a pastor up for a fall and is contrary to scripture. A pastor is human and is subject to all the trials, struggles and temptations that are common to each believer. God never promised to shelter a pastor from temptation nor did He promise that a pastor would never deviate from God’s vision.

Pastors have high points in their life and pastors will all walk through the valley. No Christian will go through life without struggling spiritually from time to time. Every human will get excited about things that are not God’s will and allow emotions to drive their decisions at some point in life. Even a pastor can mistake emotions for God’s voice and God never placed the direction for the local body in the hands of one man. The Bible says that a wise man with knowledge will seek wise counsel and in a multitude of counselors, there is safety.

If we follow the Bible’s mandate for elders and church leadership, wise counsel will always be available to a pastor. It is easy for one man to get sidetracked on an issue, but if the elders of the church are all following God, it is very difficult for a church to go astray.

In scripture, examples for accountability are seen on every level of leadership. Moses was held accountable; godly kings were subject to accountability; elders in the church are held accountable to the pastor and each other; pastors are accountable to the elders and even the apostles were held accountable by elders and each other. No one was exempt from accountability. In error, some think that because the pastor is the head of the local body that he is accountable to God alone, but scripture teaches a different doctrine. If the apostles whom God used to write scripture were held accountable, and the great biblical leaders who led God’s people had accountability, why would we think that a pastor would not be? The first symptom of a spiritual struggle in a leader is the desire to break off accountability. Ungodly leaders in the Old Testament rejected accountability and even godly leaders like King David rejected accountability before falling into sin.

References: Galatians 2:14-18, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Exodus 18:12-24, 2 Samuel 19:2-8, Acts 17:10, Acts 15:6, 1 Kings 22, 2 Samuel 24:1-13

TO FIND A GOD CALLED PASTOR IN YOUR LIFE, CONTACT NEW LIFE CHURCH AT 706-769-6824 or Scott Strawn, Outreach Director at

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