Monday, April 13, 2015

How's Your Pastoring?

image used under Public Domain license, photo obtained from pixabay
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a pastor as "a spiritual overseer; especially :  a clergyman serving a local church or parish".  They say the root is "Middle English pastour, from Anglo-French, from Latin pastor herdsman, from pascere to feed....".  It's actually a 14th century concept.  

If you like playing with words like I do, there's an interesting mental picture we can create.  Think of one of those times you were in farm country or saw a picture of cows in a field.  The field is a pasture.  You caught that one, didn't you?  It comes from the same root word as pastor.  Which means the farmer is pastoring those cattle.  But the point is neither word games nor jokes.

We think of a pastor as someone who has specialized training and, in some way, is recognized by his church (or denomination)  as having properly prepared himself to live in John 21:17b, "Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.".  And that's as it should be.  However, while being a pastor may be limited, pastoring is not.  Let me explain that one.

First, let's get rid of "the elephant in the room".  If you're looking for some definition as to whether women ought to be pastors, you won't find it here.  For what we're discussing, that's a conversational distraction we really don't need.  I have my own views.  You'll have to take the time to study the issue and come to your own conclusions.

Second, there's a two sided coin we need to look at.  My own personal experience tells me that a person having the title of pastor isn't always a guarantee they're good at pastoring.  Or the reverse. Pastoring done by someone without the educational background and title isn't necessarily less valid than that of the person with the credentials.

Let's go back to our illustration and dictionary statements.  A pastor is a herdsman.  He guides the flock/herd toward God.  We're talking spiritual nourishment.  If we look at the picture, some of the cows are eating, others are resting.  The herder or pastor brings them to a place of nutrition and rest.  And that comes through being fed the Word, either directly or in principle.  And it doesn't take a title or certificate to do that.  

Some related verses:
  • Job 23:12 (KJV)  Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food
  • Psalm 19:9-11 (KJV)  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. 
  • Psalm 119:72-73 (KJV)  The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.  Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
  • Psalm 119:97 (KJV)  O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
  • Psalm 119:103-104 (KJV)  How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
  • Psalm 119:111-113 (KJV)  Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.  I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end. I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
  • Jeremiah 15:16 (KJV)  Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
  • Ezekiel 3:1-3 (KJV)  Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.  So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.  And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.
The idea is that it's God and His Word that spiritually feed us and give us rest.  It's not a man nor is it his certificate, education, or head knowledge.  It takes a heart after God to do that from the human level of communication.  It can be a best friend doing that kind of pastoring, if the spiritual balance is there.  Over the years, I've had a number of "go to" people in our ministry for spiritual guidance: Pastor Scott Robinson, Pastor Peter Stevens, Pastor Eric Anderson, Pastor Jason Moore, Pastor John Hadley, Pastor Tom Sliva, Pastor Allan Leitner, and Pastor Bruce Wright.  If I felt I needed to, I could go to our head pastor, Pastor Tom Schaller, as well.  Yes, there are quite a few.  And, yes, they all actually have the title of Pastor.  But that title isn't what draws me to them. So, what does?
  1. First and foremost, each of these men has a recognizable relationship with God.  They love Him, His Word, and His people.
  2. Second, they have a relationship with me.  They know me on a personal level and care about me as a person.
  3. Third, I do and have trusted that combination to gain me stellar spiritual wisdom.
I've never needed to spend a lot of time being counseled, but it's nice that the brief times I've needed that have stayed brief because I have so many great men of God I can turn to.  I have a couple of friends I'd trust in much the same way.  As I said, it's not the title that counts. We all need people like that.  And, maybe more, we need to be or become people like that, for others.  So, how's your pasture and pastoring, today?


  1. Bill, you have been a blessing to me as I observed the way you loved God and His Word and put them as the priority of your life. The result was a humble and contrite heart that loved others. Thank you for your friendship. God bless you. (P. Pete)

    1. You've certainly been key in making that a reality, Pastor Pete. And, yes, when the finances are a little better, getting out to visit you and Robin is on my bucket list.

  2. Well said Bill, it is a call that comes with a heavy responsibility. It is always difficult for those that have this call. We are broken people trying to shepherd broken people. I pray that I can always live it out humbly and carefully

    1. But those who are truly broken are mended by Him.