Yesterday I alluded to the pastor (preacher) being overworked when the congregation do not fulfill their role by deploying their spiritual gifts for servicing in the Body of Christ, for the smooth running and functionality of the local church. Today I want to focus for a while on the pastor (preacher). Many people in the congregation have their opinion with regard to the pastor. Often, they are correct in their judgment of him, yet sometimes they are wrong and their criticism is unjustified. As guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul had a deep understanding of the congregation and the preacher (pastor). Nothing escapes the eye of the Spirit. Look at 2 Chronicles:
2 Chr 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
If He does this for the righteous … He knows the hearts and attitudes of the unrighteous as well … the thought in the mind and the word on the tongue too. Paul’s grasp of the condition in the Corinthian Church was phenomenal. (1 Corinthians 4:1-13). In this church the members had opinions about those who preached (pastored) there. Look at these two examples:
1 Cor 1:12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas’”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
1 Cor 1:4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?
In these verses I ask you to read I see five things a pastor (preacher) ought to be:
First, a servant: The word servant in chapter 3:5 and 4:1, coming from the Greek, means an “under rower”. In that period of the near ancient world, boats and ships were driven by sails and rowers. The larger ones had a double row of rowers. Seemingly the lower rowers were the lower class of ‘slaves’. Notice that the servant is the preacher (pastor) and belongs to Jesus Christ first and foremost, before he belongs to the congregation. Few understand this.
Second, a steward: The concept of stewardship comes from the idea of an administrator implied in verse 2. The preacher (pastor) is responsible for holding the property of another. The “another” here is Jesus Christ own owns the church.
Third, an accountant: In verses 3-5 we see the preacher (pastor) needing to give an account of his ministry to God. Yes he is accountable to the body, but firstly he is accountable to God. Before God He is judged of his servanthood and stewardship.
Fourth, an example: We see this in verse 6-7. Paul applied verses 1-5 to himself and Apollos because he did not want any preacher (pastor) to be puffed up by their performance in thinking he was better or greater as a preacher (pastor) than those he served with.
Fifth, a sufferer: As you read verses 8-13 you observe that ministry has both the blessings and the curses. Some will praise the preacher (pastor) whilst other will condemn (damn) him.
Whilst the preacher (pastor) needs to be faithful to the congregation, his first call to faithfulness is before the Lord, who appointed him and will require an account of the ministry he was appointed to. Consider the following two Scriptures:
Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Where the preacher’s (pastor’s) position is, like any profession, to be a joy, he is accountable to God. This accountability is not just his ministry as in performance and faithfulness to the Word of God and personal obedience to the Spirit of God … he is accountable for every single soul he ministered to. Just as the shepherd is there to look after, protect and care for the sheep, this is true of the preacher (pastor). This is extremely difficult when the sheep are rambunctious. The shepherd struggles to exercise control and there is no joy in his work. Similarly, when the members of the congregation do not obey the preacher (pastor) as he teaches God’s Word, when they refuse to submit to his expositional teaching of Scripture, there is no joy in his ministry. What congregations need to know is that they can make or break the preacher (pastor). Actually, many good men have failed because of stubborn, sinful members of the church! They willfully prevent His faithfulness.
Mt 25:21 “His master replied, ’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
The goal and objective of the preacher’s (pastor’s) ministry must never be popularity or bigger pastorates. He must never have his focus on “many things” … the focus must be “faithful”. The preacher (pastor) must fulfil his God-given calling and leave his future ministry and his eternal happiness to God.
Dear God, thank You for appointing preachers, pastors and teachers to prepare the Body of Christ for ministry and eternity. Help me to be responsible as a member of the Body to make their task pleasurable. Amen.