Role of a Shepherd
In Ephesians 4, Paul says that God give five special gifts to the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. All of these are necessary for the maturity of the church, but to me, the ministry of the pastor is special. The role of the pastor, or shepherd, is special for me because I believe this is one of the five-fold ministries thatmost resembles Jesus.A pastoral role is special because all Christians have some responsibility to showlove and care for one another. At some level, we are all called to be a shepherd toChristians who are younger than ourselves in the faith. Not everyone is a pastor, but we all function in pastoral ministry to some extent. I personally believe that we need more pastors in the church than apostles, prophets,evangelists, or teachers. There always seems to be a lack of people who have the heart toshepherd God’s people.
Importance of the shepherd role
Before He ascended to heaven, Jesus restored Peter and gave him his mostimportant calling. In John 21:15-17, Jesus makes it clear that if Peter truly wanted to prove his love for Jesus, then he must love Jesus’ sheep. Jesus did not call Peter to be anapostle or evangelist, although Peter eventually filled both those roles. Jesus called Peter to be a pastor, a shepherd, and a spiritual overseer.In 1 Timothy 3:2, Paul says that whoever has the goal of becoming an overseer inthe church desires a noble task. To be a shepherd is a high calling.
Responsibilities of a shepherd
King David, who himself was a shepherd for many years and also a shepherd for the entire nation of Israel, wrote Psalm 23 to describe how God shepherds His people. Inthese verses, we can see the responsibilities of a good shepherd.
Nourish the sheep with spiritual food
Psalm 23:2 says “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” When sheep are putinto green pastures, they eat until they are satisfied and lie down to rest. In the same way,spiritual shepherds need to provide their sheep with sufficient spiritual food.We need to be hungry for God’s word ourselves so that we’re always learning andgathering new material to pass on to our sheep. We need to make our own heartsstorehouses of the treasures of God’s word, so that we can bring out the appropriateteaching. This requires constant hunger to learn ever-deeper truths about God’s word.
He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about thekingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom newtreasures as well as old.”
Shepherds need to understand the learning styles of their sheep, their ability tohandle different teaching, and the timeliness of each topic.