Yes, I know that I have “mispelled” [sic] shepherds as “sheepherds” because I want to make a point about the role of a pastor/shepherd among the church. Often I talk with fellow pastors who continually tell me that they cannot meet the demands of the congregation. When I ask what they mean, they reply with, “I am unable to meet the emotional needs of individuals in the church.” To this I reply, “if you keep trying, you are unfit for the ministry.” There seems to be a severely misaligned view of what a pastor is or should be and how his ministry should look.
Although there is much to be said about how to measure successful pastoral ministry, let me boil it down to one word: faithfulness! A man of God is called to feed, tend and care for the sheep of which he is a part. Pastors are not the SHEPHERD but an undershepherd or “sheepherd” that should be pointing the flock to trust and rely on the True Chief Shepherd who is Christ. When any one person feels that a pastor is their “personal” pastoral counselor and chaplain, they have placed themselves above the church of Jesus Christ and in turn, placed their pastor in a place of perpetual failure.
Pastors main role is to POINT and provide opportunity for the sheep to grow to MATURITY, not be their savior. The main problem is that tradition has clouded the reality of God’s word when it comes to the purpose of the church and the role of the pastor. Although some pastors are gifted in certain areas and called to different ministries while they shepherd, the primary and foundational role of a pastor is the point to Christ through the faithful prayer, study and teaching of the word of God so that through the word of God, lives are brought to faith and equipped and strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus so that God receives glory.
Just a little thought for the day…
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: 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. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-5:4 ESV)