Most Christians have been members of (or at least attended) a church long enough to go through a pastoral transition or to witness an ordination service. When they do, they’ll often hear a sermon on the pastor’s responsibility to the church. It might include a look at the qualifications for pastor as listed in 1Timothy 3 or Titus 1, and perhaps also a charge from 2Timothy 4.1-2:
1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
Every pastor I know who’s worth his salt has approached these pastoral responsibilities with thoughtful solemnity and at least a little bit of fear. Who is sufficient for these things? Those of us who’ve never walked that path probably don’t understand the weightiness of that calling.
So we’ve all heard about the pastor’s responsibility to his flock. That topic gets its share of pulpit time.
But we hardly ever hear sermons about the flock’s responsibility to its shepherd.
Some might suggest that the whole concept is illogical. Shepherds take care of sheep; sheep don’t take care of shepherds. Why would the Scripture talk about that?
Well, I don’t like to speculate on the “why” of such things, but the fact is that the Scripture does address the concept, and repeatedly.
So why don’t pastors preach about it? Doesn’t the passage above charge them to “preach the Word”? All of it?
Well, I think we can see the problem. For a pastor to preach on “what you ought to do for me” would sound pretty self-serving, wouldn’t it? That feels just a little icky.
So they’d prefer that somebody else raise that issue.
As it happens, I’m not a pastor. Because God hasn’t called or gifted me for that role, I’ve never been ordained, and while I preach in churches as need arises, my financial needs are not provided by any congregation.
So I have no conflict of interest.
That being the case, I’d like to take a few posts to fill in a gap that your pastor, for reasons that are completely understandable, may have left in your awareness of biblical teaching.
But I really don’t want to give the impression that any fingers are being wagged in your face. This series isn’t about “more stuff we all gotta do, or else we’re bad Christians!”—first, because in a very real sense there are no bad Christians; our sin debt has been paid, in full, by the loving sacrifice of Christ, God is not angry with us, and we live under the glorious sunlight of infinite grace.
And second, because most of us have been ministered to by our pastors, and we appreciate what they’ve done, and we wish we could do something kind in return. We’d be all the more delighted to do something that we knew was part of God’s design for our pastor’s prospering, as revealed in the Scripture.
So I’ve titled the series not “What y’all gotta do for your pastor!” but “How to care for your pastor,” because that’s really what we’re talking about here. This is just a natural outgrowth of loving our neighbors, one of the ways we respond in gratitude for what God has graciously done for us.
We’ll start thinking about the particulars next time.