(A week removed from Shepherd’s Conference and I am still encouraged.Today I want to share what I learned)
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The job of a weather man is to give the weather forecast. His success is built upon if his prediction happens. The job of a waiter or waitress in a restaurant is to wait on people as they decide what they will eat and drink for the evening. Their success is found in their being helpful with the menu, offering suggestions, bringing out the food in a timely manner, and being overall kindly. The job of a history teacher is to teach their classes about history. They are successful by proving to the administration that the students have learned what was taught through tests, quizzes, papers, and projects.
On I could go about jobs that are public. We know what they are supposed to do and we know how to measure their success. However, there is the one very public job that I believe suffers in knowing what they are supposed to be doing and how we are to measure their success. That job is the job of a pastor. In my observance, the job and success of a pastor is largely unknown. Most who attend church regularly, I believe, don’t even think about what their pastor is to be doing and therefore cannot measure his success. The attend church blindly and ignorantly, not knowing that their own spiritual life is suffering.
Many believe their pastor is a good pastor because he speaks well, dresses trendy, and grows the attendance of the church. However, what if that was the standard of waiter. Would you be okay with a waiter who dressed trendy, spoke well, but didn’t know the menu and brought out your food cold? Of course not because you expect the waiter to do their job. Or take the weather man: would you continue to follow the forecast of a weather man who was hip and spoke with moving conviction, but rarely got the weather right because he ignored the tools used for predicting the weather? Of course you would stop following him and find a real weather man because he is not doing his job.
So why, WHY do we not expect pastors to do the same? I believe it is because most church-goers have no clue what their pastor’s job is and how to measure their success. Hence, the recent tweet from Kevin DeYoung:
I trust that evangelicals looking for a candidate who “tells it like it is” are flocking to churches where the preacher does the same.
— Kevin DeYoung (@RevKevDeYoung) March 2, 2016
Well, today I am here to give you a pastor’s job description and how to measure their success (and btw, it has nothing to do with their dress, speaking quality, or growth in the church). This is not my own job description that I made up, but rather it comes from 2 Timothy 4.
First, God is His Boss
Before giving Timothy his final charge, Paul reminds young Timothy of the boss of the pastor: “in the presence of God and Christ Jesus.” Literally in the Greek, “of God, even Christ Jesus.” In other words, Jesus is the boss. This make sense because Jesus is the “Head of the church” (Col 1:18), Jesus will be the One appearing in His kingdom (2 Tim 4:1) in order to Judge for reward and punishment (4:8; Matt 16:27).
Now since Jesus is the boss, the authority is His and not the pastor’s. The pastor is an under-shepherd and a preacher of Jesus. The pastor does not make the rules, but follows what the boss has told him to do. And Jesus is a perfect, watchful boss. As the God of the universe and the Judge of the living and the dead, Jesus keeps careful watch over His church and keeps a careful eye on the pastor and how he is leading the flock in order to give judgment upon the pastor when the pastor stands before Jesus’ judgment seat.
According to the Bible, this judgment will be more severe than just a normal Christ-follower because of the task they were given to lead Jesus’ people (see James 3:1; 2 Tim 2:15; Heb 13:17). The point is that a pastor is not allowed to do ministry in any ole way he wants, but the pastor must follow the employee manual given to him and follow it to the letter. For one day every pastor will stand before God to give an account on whether or not he pastored by the Book.
The Job is to Preach the Word
2 Timothy 4:2-5 is the commanded job description for every pastor, summed up in “preach the Word.” Preach is the Greek karusso which means “to proclaim publicly, to announce a message out loud for others to hear.” Furthermore, preaching is different than teaching. Teaching is for any audience, any time, and can taught the same information over and over again. Teaching is aimed only at the mind. Preaching, on the other hand, is a message with the same truth of teaching, but is only for a certain audience at the certain time it is being delivered. Preaching’s aim is not merely the mind, but also the heart, and will. Simply put, when a preacher preaches, they are aiming at changing your thoughts, your actions, and your motivations.
Now the message could be about anything and be preaching, but Paul does not give room for “anything.” The only message the pastor, every pastor, is to proclaim is THE WORD, the Bible, God’s truth. The pastor is not to go on about clothing styles, politics, or bring their own ideas to the pulpit. They are preach the Word of God – exactly how it is presented and exactly how God intended. In other words, the pastor is to be humble by studying the Word so that God speaks in their pulpit.
How often is the pastor supposed to do this? Keep reading vv. 2-5 of 2 Timothy 4.
… be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Simply: all the time; every time he gets a chance; when it is an easy passage of Scripture and when it is hard; when it is convenient and when it is not; when he gets a good response from people and when he doesn’t; when it is popular and when it is not; when the culture likes it and when they don’t; when the church is large and when the church is small; in the main service and in Sunday School; to adults, youth, and children. Every time is the command.
This is why I (and my brothers on this PS23 blog) believe and practice expository preaching because it exposes the truth of God week after week. In this way, we are being obedient to God as pastors and we are giving the Spirit of God the opportunity to grow the flock into the image of Christ (2 Tim 3:16-17; Rom 8:29). If the preaching of the Word is not happening weekly in your church, then you have a disobedient pastor and do you really want to be shepherded by a disobedient pastor? I hope not. I hope you would want to find a church that has the same priority that God has for its pastor in preaching the Word week after week. You can find many faithful pastors by merely looking on The Master’s Seminary Church Finder.
Before I leave this section, let me just make sure you understand that it is the lay church-member’s job to be noble-minded and know if your pastor is fulfilling his job to preach the Word. What you hear week to week may sound like preaching the Word, but you cannot know if you are not examining the Scriptures yourself (Acts 17:10-11; Matt 7:15-20; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1).
The Success is Obedience
The Apostle Paul was arguably the most successful pastor the world has known. Under his shepherding, the gospel spread from the nation of Israel to the known end of the world during his time. Yet, at the end of Paul’s life, as expressed in 2 Tim 4:8-18, Paul was imprisoned with only one person left to take care of him. Everyone had abandoned Paul, either to go do the work of ministry (Crescens, Titus, Tychicus) or because they were never saved to begin with (Demas, Alexander). Having no one but Luke with him, Paul still professes that his ministry was a success because “the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation (that’s preaching!) might be FULLY ACCOMPLISHED…” Do you see it? Paul saw his ministry as a success because he preached the Word. It didn’t matter how many people followed Paul around. It didn’t matter how many people were at his memorial service. Paul’s ministry was a success because he was obedient to proclaim the Word that God had commanded at his conversion (cf. Acts 9:15, 20; 22:15; 26:15-20).
So, how do you measure the success of your pastor? Simple: he obediently is preaching the Word, that is “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Is the shepherd whom you call pastor proclaiming Christ with admonishing and teaching and with all wisdom, “so that [they] may present every man complete in Christ” (Col 1:28)? If yes, then it is of no consequence what is going on around him or your church or the size of the church or his popularity (or lack of) or if he is ridiculed by others, even by people in your church or the surrounding churches. If your pastor is preaching the Word, in the pulpit, in his life, and in his shepherding/counseling, then no matter what, your pastor is successful. And that is a man you want to place yourself and your family under.
On the other hand, if your pastor is more worried about the numbers of the people in the worship center, more worried about if he looks/talks hip and trendy, more engaged in popular culture than in prayer and the Word, more interested in speaking about clothes/food/etc., then you have a disobedient pastor. And again I ask: do you want to be shepherded by a disobedient pastor? God only blesses those who walk in obedience. And you cannot be blessed through a disobedient pastor.
So, now you know the pastor’s boss, his job description, and how to measure his success. I pray that you would find a church that has a pastor who is into the Word and into getting the Word into you. Your spiritual growth depends upon it.
If you are at a church where the pastor is faithful to God in proclaiming the Word to you, do him great joy by walking in the truth he proclaims week after week. I guarantee, he will find no greater joy than to know you practice what he preaches (3 John 4).