There is a lot of misunderstanding that surrounds the significance of pastors in Christianity. Obviously, tradition carries more blame, than anything causing such misunderstandings. The greatest error of all time is that ordinary people consider pastors to be superhuman. Someone circulated the following observation on social media, concerning pastors:
“Pastors have a tough job. They get more kicks than kisses. If a pastor is young, he lacks experience; if he is grey-haired, he is too old. If he has five kids, he has too many; if he has none, he is setting a bad example. If his wife sings in the choir, she is being forward; if not, she is not dedicated enough. If he preaches from notes, he is dry; if his words are impromptu, he is too shallow.
If he spends too much time in his study he is neglecting his people; if he makes home visits, he is not a good time manager. If he is attentive to the poor, he is after public approval; if he attends to the wealthy, he is ingratiating. If he suggests improvements, he is a dictator; if he doesn’t, he has no vision. If he uses too many illustrations, he neglects the Bible; if he doesn’t use enough stories, he is unclear. If he speaks against wrong, he is legalistic; if he doesn’t he is a compromiser.
If he preaches for an hour, he is windy; less than that, he has nothing to say. If he preaches the truth he is offensive; if he doesn’t he is wishy-washy. If he tries to please everybody, he has no convictions. If he preaches tithing he is a money-grabber; If not, he is failing to develop his people.
If he receives a large salary, he is a mercenary; if he doesn’t, it proves he is not worth much. If he preaches on a regular basis, people get tired of hearing the same person; if he invites guest preachers, he is shirking his responsibility. Wow! And you thought your pastor had an easy life! How would you like to change places?” (Author unknown).
Pastors are shepherds. God said something very worrisome concerning Israel’s shepherds. But, instead of relegating this to ancient Israel, this prophecy is directed at today’s Christian pastors:
“A message came from the LORD for me, and it had this to say: 2 “Son of Man, prophesy against Israel’s shepherds. Tell those shepherds, ‘This is what the Lord GOD says:
“Woe to you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves and not the sheep. Shouldn’t shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You’re eating the best parts, clothing yourselves with the wool, and slaughtering the home-grown sheep without having fed the sheep! 4 You haven’t strengthened the weak, treated the sick, set broken bones, regathered the scattered, or looked for the lost. Instead, you’ve dominated them with brutal force and ruthlessness.
5“ Since they have no shepherd, they have been scattered around and have become prey for all sorts of wild animals. How scattered they are! 6 My sheep have gone wandering on all of the mountains, on all of the hills, and throughout every high place in the whole world, with no one to look for them or go out in search of them.
7 “Therefore listen to what the LORD says, you shepherds: 8 ‘As certainly as I’m alive and living, my sheep have truly become victims, food for all of the wild animals because there are no shepherds. My shepherds did not go searching for my flock. Instead, the shepherds fed themselves, and my flock they would not feed!’
9 “Therefore, you shepherds, listen to what the LORD says: 10 ‘This is what the Lord GOD says: “Watch out, I’m coming after you shepherds! I’m going to demand my sheep back from them and fire them as shepherds. The shepherds won’t be shepherds anymore when I snatch my flock right out of their mouths so they can’t be eaten by them anymore.”’” (Ezekiel 34:1-10) (ISV).
Jesus Christ declared Himself to be the only good Shepherd, to whom everyone needs to look to. See [Pastor—The centre of all confusion in Christianity]. With that in mind, there is no need for pastors to go through the tribulations that are highlighted at the beginning of this article. In the same chapter, from verses 11 to 16, the Prophet Ezekiel reveals the workings of God to deliver His sheep.
Three times, Jesus instructed Peter to feed the flock (John 21:15-19). It takes an analytical study to appreciate that the responsibility being bestowed on Peter would not be casual. Peter had to first appreciate that he ought to have loved Jesus more than everyone else, for him to assume that responsibility (verse 15).
The unknown author of the quotation at the beginning of this article, seeks to show readers how daunting the pastoral responsibilities are. But this cannot be the case for those who sincerely love Jesus. Such people are known, not as pleasers of people, and can, therefore, be very unpopular among religious leaders. This is just as Jesus was very unpopular with religious people of His time.
Jesus also declared: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-29) (ESV). This instruction is not just for pastors, but also for all believers who have accepted Jesus’ calling. Among other responsibilities of Jesus, the pastoral duty was on top of the list.
This is why Jesus had to emphasize, three times, for Peter to understand this reality. However, the wrong notion that needs to be corrected is to regard pastoral duties as if superior to other responsibilities? This is the error of all ages. See [Every Christian carries pastoral responsibility]
Pastoral responsibilities belong to Jesus Christ, just as the entire work of the Christian ministry is of Jesus Christ. You do not have to be a Pastor, if Christ has not bestowed it on you to perform that function. The same applies to various other responsibilities (Ephesians 4:11).
However, a Christian does not need to carry the burdens of Jesus Christ. Whatever we do in the name of Jesus, would be performed by Jesus, Himself. No-one should be evaluated on the workings of Christ, who works through the individual. Doing so, would be just as foolish as evaluating Christ.
Pastors are commonly regarded as more superior to other fellow Christians. But that is a mistake, leading to the degeneration of Christianity, ever since Jesus left this planet. It is either, Christ works in an individual, or the individual seeks to work harder in order to impress everyone that he/she would be a dedicated Christian.
This is what has unnecessarily caused lots of tribulations among Pastors, whether as judged by laity or by God, according to the warning in Ezekiel 34. The cause of danger in Ezekiel’s prophecy emanates from failure to appreciate that Christian ministry is solely the responsibility of Jesus Christ.
The starting point is in fully recognizing and appreciating who the Christ is: [Revealing the Christ in Jesus]. A lot of confusion in the work of Christ is compounded by the inability to differentiate between those used by Christ and those working very hard for Christ (Matthew 7:21-23). This is what causes people to be categorized according to class, abilities and educational achievements.
Pastors, including Christians in general, find themselves under pressure to meet the expectations of fellow human beings. But the transformation from our human nature to become Christ-like has got nothing to do with our effort. See [Christianity serves to invalidate God’s Kingdom].
Pastors cannot be condemned for their failure to work hard, but for their failure to appreciate who the Christ is. All Christians are supposed to allow Christ to perform His will in their lives. Any good, or considered bad things in their lives, has got nothing to do with them, as long as they allow Christ to operate freely in their lives.
The same applies to all Christians. However, pastors carry more responsibility, as bestowed with an obligation to shepherd the flock. Like Jesus, they would be expected to defend the flock from vicious predators who could turn out to be extremely dangerous against the shepherds. After having instructed Peter to feed the flock, Jesus said:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go,” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me” (John 21:18-19) (ESV).
In Christianity, the responsibilities are not similar, but that does not mean that some Christians are better than others, as Christ works according to His will on each of them. Others are bestowed with more responsibility, but expected to perform and produce more than those with less talents. “To whom much is given more is expected” (Luke 12:48).
It is a question of allowing Christ to do His will in one’s life, whether in a small or big way. Those tormented by the effects of what concerns the unknown writer at the beginning of this article, are basically reeling in ignorance. Christ suffered and died for our sins once and for all.
But those coming aboard ought to know one thing: Anyone can benefit from Christianity as much as one can, in terms of supernatural healing and other Christian benefits, just as most people benefited during Jesus’ time.
Bear in mind most of those people who benefited from the services of Jesus Christ were not necessarily Christ’s followers? To be one of Christ’s followers cannot be viewed as a decision that can be taken casually. Christ said there is need to count the costs (Luke 14:25-33).
Nevertheless, Pastors carry more responsibilities than appealing for sympathy, from other congregants. But Christ is the one carrying the responsibility, through those concerned. Other Christians also ought to know that being a Church member and a follower of Christ does not necessarily mean enjoying good life. Christianity is about total surrender of one’s own life, for Christ to operate freely in his/her life. See [The only way through is going through].
Adulating or despising one another in Christianity is, unfortunately, a symptom of embedded deception in Christianity. This needs to be eradicated, if God is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth. No-one should be engaged in Christianity on reason of lacking other things to do, because Christianity is the only thing to do.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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