This is somewhat of a follow up to the post “Does Your Pastor Love You?” It is presented for rumination, consideration, meditation, and contemplation.
According to Scripture… Who is the most important person when the church comes together? Who is to set the agenda? Who gives direction, leadership, and guidance for the people to follow?
There are several possible answers. One is the church body since they vote and have the final say on what is done and what isn’t. Others will say the deacons, since they are elected to serve the congregation. Another possibility are the committees since they bring things to the church to be voted on. Then there is the last possibility… the Pastor… after all, he is the one God calls to shepherd His people.
Upon reading those texts, questions immediately come to mind. One is that since Jesus is the head of the church no person should be in any particular position of leadership over another. Everyone should be equal across the board. This is practiced by the Quakers or “Friends” as they are sometimes known.
But that isn’t the way Scripture describes who leads the church while on earth. As I understand Scripture, there are three terms used to describe one office in the New Testament that is first among equals in church leadership. The terms are: Pastor (Shepherd), Bishop, and Elder. All three terms are used in 1 Peter 5:1-3 referring to the same office…
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
God places pastors in their position for reasons. One as noted above is to be an example to the flock. Then according Eph 4:11-12, they are responsible to equip the Body of Christ to carry out the work of the ministry. They are to be devoted to prayer and ministry of The Word as found in Acts 6:4. The Pastor’s call and responsibility is for the spiritual health and well being of the congregation. As part of this call, they are to seek God’s guidance for the church and lead the church in that direction (Thus the need for prayer).
Now I will delve into an element pastors avoid due to “job security” issues: Church member’s relationship to pastors. In 1 Tim 5:17-19 Paul writes that these men are to be given “double honor.” That means by virtue of their position and call, they are granted great respect. Then it is written in Hebrews 13:17 something very interesting…
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
The church is to follow the leaders God places in their midst. The reason is because the leaders (Did you notice the word is plural?!) are watching over the souls of those in the congregation. These leaders will answer to God for their conduct and leadership. THEN follows the interesting part…
Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
When the leaders of a church are not given honor… when their service is made hard or difficult… the leaders aren’t the ones who suffer, it is the church that suffers in some capacity. For that reason those who are in position of leadership have a great responsibility as do those under leadership. It works both ways.
Now the original question (Given all the texts linked to above)… Who is the most important person in the church? Jesus is. Who is under Him in servant/leadership roles? (Go back and read the texts) What is the responsibility of those in that position? (Go back and read the texts) What are the responsibilities of those who are under the leaders God puts in place? (Go back and read the texts). Aside: One of my favorite sayings in studies like these is… “If you’re going to get mad at someone, get mad a God because He’s the one who put it in the Bible!” This might be one such case for pastors and parishioners.
Pastors have a great responsibility before Almight God that they had better carry out faithfully (1 Pet 5:1-3; Eph 4:11-12; Ac 6:4; 1 Tim 5:17). At the same time those under his care have a great responsibility as found in Scripture (1 Tim 5:17-19; Heb 13:17; Eph 4:11-12).
When a pastor loves God’s people as God commands, the sheep will desire to follow the shepherd. But let either or both forsake their call and difficulties arise.
Note: Just for the record, I do not espouse the pastor running the church the way a corporate C.E.O. runs a business. The two are not the same. But that is for another post…