“So what do you do?” I had just told this guy what my profession was - I’m a pastor in a church. He was really confused when I told him our church has a few different pastors, most of whom do not preach every week from the pulpit. When he asked what I “do”, what he meant was “What on earth do you spend your time working on when you aren’t on a stage talking?”
NEWSFLASH: the word “pastor” isn’t actually in the Bible. Yes, you can find it in your English Bible. But it is always translated “pastor” from one of these three words: shepherd, overseer, and elder. And at times these words are used interchangeably. That means that the apostles didn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to church government; they did however build the church with the concept of leadership, people we call pastors, to guide God’s people in ministry.
So shepherd, overseer, and elder… Those three titles sum up the role of a pastor pretty well. Pastors are:
- Shepherds over a flock of people
- Overseers of the governance and day-to-day operations of a ministry
- Elders, or seasoned believers who can model Christian life and mission to others.
I know, I know, most people reading this do not have the title “Pastor” on their job description. I know that different denominations use these words as officials titles (elder boards, regional bishops, pastor of this or that).
My point is that God expects every believer to function in some capacity as a pastor to the people or ministry in which they are involved. You are not allowed to skip over 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus in your Bible reading. When you hear a message from 1 Peter 5 you can’t tune it out because “instructions to elders” doesn’t apply to you. The character and competencies required to be a pastor apply to every Christian.
So who or what do you pastor? What people or ministry do you lead, invest in, or guide? Perhaps your family comes to mind. Or your staff at work. Or the ministry you are part of. Or your neighbors. Everyone needs a pastor - and that pastor may be you.