The Pastor - His Work

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The Pastor - Who is He? Part Three

 

We have spent the last two weeks discussing who the pastor is. This was necessary information to help us in answering the question, what should a Pastor do? We noted that a pastor is a Christian who is called by God to oversee a local congregation. He does not pick the position for himself but rather is picked by God and given certain spiritual gifts in order to care out his responsibilities.

We also indicated that the pastor’s position is so important to the health and welfare of a local congregation that he must be a man of highest spiritual standards. We saw in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1 all of the qualifications that must be met by the pastor. Therefore, a candidate for the position of pastor is to be examined by his local congregation to see if he possesses both the qualifications and the calling of God. If he does the congregation will ordain this man to the service of Christ Jesus. 

Now the question, what are the God given responsibilities of the pastor? I use the terms “God given” because there are so many “man given” responsibilities that often burden the pastor and eat up much of his God given talents and time.

The God given responsibilities of a pastor are as follows

1) The pastor is to equip the Saints for the work of the ministry Eph. 4:11-12. It has been my experience that too often the pastor is viewed as “the minister” of the church. He is the one who is supposed to do much if not most of the work of the ministry. Therefore, the pastor often finds along with preparing and delivering messages, doing a multitude of other responsibilities such as:

a. He is to call on the sick and shut ins

b. He is to call regularly in the homes of the members of his congregation

c. He is carry out door to door visitation

d. He is to counsel all who come to him for help

e. He is to have oversight of the youth program, Sunday School, and VBS

f. He is to conduct funerals and weddings

g. He is to be the main source of outreach in the community

h. He is to serve on every board and committee

i. He is to organize, administer and often do the work of a secretary

j. He is to do routine maintenance jobs

k. He is to deal with problem people

l. He is to restore the sinner and call on those who are absent

m. He is to call on all who visit

n. He is to handle the various problems that arise. 

o. He is to lead songs and be the moderator at all business meetings

p. He is expected to be present at every church social and activity

q. He is to open the building in the morning and check and close the building in the evening

r. He is to provide rides for those without transportation

s. He is to administer or at least heavily involved in the Christian School if there is one

t. He is to attend the outside activities of his members: ball games, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries

u. He is to spend at least an hour a day in personal prayer and Bible study

v. He is to clean the church

w. He is to be available at all times both night and day

x. He is to be available to help members with secular tasks – moving items, house repairs

y. He is to plan and organize social events

z. He is to house visiting missionaries and pastors

aa. He is to maintain a good home life giving proper quality time to both his wife and his children

Now these things vary from church to church but on a whole they are common responsibilities. However many of these responsibilities are not pastor specific and can be handled equally well by trained laity. For example, a lay person could help others with secular tasks, do maintenance on the building, clean the church , plan and organize social events, house guest speakers, head up Sunday School, youth programs, or VBS, or do secretarial tasks. This is not to say that a pastor is not to do some of these thing. He should sometimes out of necessity and sometimes out of example. However, the members of the congregation should not shirk their own responsibilities to the ministry and thus place unnecessary burdens on the pastor.

Therefore, Paul's point is that the more time the pastor has free to spend time in prayer and working in the Word, the more profitable it will be for the congregation.

It is the pastor’s responsibility to teach and instruct the members of the congregation to carry out the work of the ministry. In years past much of this was carried out by the lay person but this has radically changed in recent years. With the rise in secular activities that are consuming our couple’s time and with both spouses working, it is more likely the church will hire people to do the work of the ministry than to do it themselves. 30 years ago, churches did not consider hiring an associate pastor until then were at least 300-400 in membership. Now days we start looking for an assistant pastor when they hit 125-150.

It was this very problem that the disciples encountered in Acts 6, when the responsibilities of the ministry were taking away from what they were called to do, the equipping of the Saints for the work of the ministry. Thus they sought others who could take care of the physical matters while they cared for the spiritual matters.

Acts 6:1-4, “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word." (NKJV)

4Therefore, one of the primary responsibilities given by God to the pastor is to spend adequate time studying and teaching the word and in the process equipping the Saints to do God’s work or ministry. Churches that do not allow their pastors this kind of quality time will suffer as the messages will be weaker and with less powerful. If the pastor does spend the time he should in the Word and prayer, then he works long hours doing all the other things expected of him and thus he is not at his best on Sunday mornings. He is exhausted. If he cares for all the responsibilities and duties at the neglect of studying the Word his messages will be anemic at best. Consider the following,

1 Tim 4:13-16, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

2 Tim 4:1-2, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at* His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”

2) The pastor is to tend to the work of edifying of the body (Eph. 4:11-12). The pastor is to spend his time doing those things which will help to build the church. The direction of his work should be of such that it results in the unity of the faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, to develop spiritually mature Christians who measure up to the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). Though certain spiritual gifts are common to most pastors yet each pastor is uniquely different. Each pastor has his own personality which will be translated through the use of his spiritual gifts. Likewise, many pastors possess additional gifts which help him in certain areas that other pastors are unable. For example, some pastors have the ability to play the piano and so they are able to use this to build up the church in this manner. Some of us can play a melody with one finger as long as it is not to complex. We will not find ourselves enhancing the church through music. There will be differences in pastors in their ministry based on specific interests and the measure of the gifts God has given (Rom. 12:6-8). I doubt that there are many who have the measure of the gift of preaching that some one like Chuck Swindoll has.

The Saints in the congregation needs to keep this in mind as they loose one pastor and get another. Too often they measure the new pastor by the standard set by the previous pastor. There is no way that the new man is going to be the same as the previous man It is God Who sends a pastor to a particular church for a certain period of time knowing the measure of the man’s gifts, his personality, his interests, as well as the needs of the congregation. As members of the body of Christ we should look for the strengths in our pastor not the weaknesses.

Pastor’s build up the congregation in many ways. Through leadership he helps to shape the direction the church should grow as determined by the needs of the congregation. He also may work at discipling a few to take the role of leadership. Likewise, he may seek out those men of God for special meetings who can meet a specific need of the congregation. As a leader of the church he may also be involved in the discipline and restoration of backslidden Saints. One of the ways I have found that a pastor builds the church is in reaching out to other Saints going through times of crisis.

With this in mind, the church should seek to not overload the pastor with other responsibilities so that he is so exhausted that it takes it toll on his family, his marriage and even his health. I have watched churches do this very thing. To add to this, all too often the church is unable or unwilling to pay the man what he deserves and so the pastor or his wife must work outside the ministry to makes ends meet. So much is expected of the pastor today that he ends up working 6 and even 7 days a week. One church I heard of recently that was looking for a pastor, required the candidate to be willing to work no less then a minimum of 55-60 hours a week. This is the reason that the vast majority of pastors have gone through a period of depression more than once in their ministry and as many 90% have more than once seriously considered leaving the pastorate altogether. This is also the reason that so many pastor’s marriages end in divorce and all too often their children turn their backs on the Lord.

What God gives for a pastor to do and what he actually ends up doing are often miles a part. This is usually due to the unrealistic expectations of a congregation on what a pastor should be doing. As one woman told me once, “remember, I pay your salary so you had better do what I tell you.” She was not joking, she was dead serious. Many believers will be held responsible someday for the pastors who have lost their marriage, their family, their homes, and even their ministry by putting unrealistic expectations on the men God has given them as His gift.