A Pastor is a shepherd, all characteristics of the Good Shepherd ought to be found in a Pastor. The word “pastor” is the same as a shepherd. I got to know this early enough when we studied Pastoral farming in elementary school. This is why throughout the Bible, we see Jesus referring to us as sheep. No wonder what transpired between Peter and Jesus
“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? ” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.” – John 21:15 NLT
Three consecutive times, Jesus emphasized “feeding his sheep” as the proof of love for him. We know that a Pastor truly loves Jesus only by his commitment in feeding the sheep committed to his care regardless if it was convenient for him or not, regardless if there are no offerings, tithes and seeds.
Here are the marks of a true shepherd
1. The Pastor ought to go after souls just as a shepherd goes after his flock.
When the going gets tough, a hired shepherd runs after and leave the sheep but a true shepherd stays. When the sheep wanders away, the shepherd don’t get angry with the sheep, he goes after the sheep, finds the sheep and celebrate the return of the sheep. If you had to chase after him to get his attention, he is not your Pastor, you are just a fan.
2. The Pastor ought to nurture souls.
Jesus told Peter “feed my lamb”. The shepherd ensures that the lamb is fed with what is needed per time. It starts from the basic food formula to the complex ones but the shepherd remains patient enough to see the lamb grow. The nurturing of the sheep includes watering them. If he is more interested with what you should feed him with other than feeding you, he is not your Pastor, you are just his caretaker.
3. The Pastor protects the sheep.
David was a wonderful shepherd, he is a great guy who was ready to put his life at risk just to protect his herd (1 Samuel 17:34-36). He fought wild beasts and killed them but a hired shepherd would run away and rather leave the sheep (John 10:12-13). The shepherd protects the lamb from contamination, from corruptions of this world, from false doctrines and so on. When you are merely the one protecting your Pastor, always praying for him but he doesn’t protect you, groan and pray for your growth, he is not your Pastor, he is just a celebrity.
4. The Pastor shears the sheep.
Sometimes shearing is a painful process but it benefits the sheep and the shepherd on the long run. The Pastor must ensure that his flock is disciplined in love. Discipline in this sense doesn’t mean punishing the flock, it means training the flock to ensure discipline, training the flock to practice commitment and practice righteousness. If he can not rebuke (2 Timothy 3:16), teach or correct you when you are wrong, he is not your Pastor, he is an acquaintance.
5. The Pastor leads the sheep (Acts 20:28).
A leader is not necessarily always at the front, sometimes they follow behind and sometimes they go ahead. The shepherd understands the dynamics of leaderships and leads the flock in this regard. In leading the flock, a true shepherd uses the rod not to hit but to protect the flock and comfort them.
These are one of the few marks of a true Pastor who loves the Lord and is willing to obey God at all cost no matter how complex and hard it seems to lead the sheep. Of course, it has never been easy and it wouldn’t get easier. This is why the Pastoral ministry is a huge responsibility, one in which the leader must become a servant to be a true leader.
I call you blessed.