Biblical models--not cultural paradigms--should define our pastoral roles.
Pastors are taking their cues for ministry from corporate and cultural paradigms rather than biblical ones, confusing the voice of the people with the voice of God.

As a result, pastors have gravitated toward managing instead of leading, echoing instead of visioning, conferencing instead of communing and herding instead of shepherding. Some reflective questions must be asked:

How is it that phone calls sometimes replace personal visits?
Why is it that voice mails or computers instead of people answer calls to the pastor?
When last did a pastor visit in a home rather than sending an e-mail?
How is it that so many preach on the conference circuit but fail to get around to the nursing-home circuit?
When last did the pastor lead someone to Christ in any other venue than a service?
How can it be that so many have fallen prey to the temptation to be hirelings rather than shepherds?
Why is it that too often we have pastoral leaders who exemplify repeat rather than covenant marriage?

Being transparent, I must confess that for too many of us in the States, ministry has become a profession, not a passion.

Granted, many pastors do still follow in the footsteps of the good Shepherd (see John 10). But their quiet service often gets lost amid the clanging cymbals of self-promoting pedestal-seekers.

One of the great classics of all time defining our role as pastors is Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor. Writing in 1766, Baxter pens a defining commentary of much of what we see in the 21st century:

"Too many who have undertaken the work of the ministry do so obstinately proceed in self-seeking, negligence, pride, and other sins, that it is become our necessary duty to admonish them ... And how can we more effectually further a reformation, than by endeavoring to reform the leaders of the Church?"

In light of Psalm 23, a return to a biblical role of shepherding must be at the roots of any reformation:

Leading, not pleasing. "He leads me ... " One can call for a vote, take a poll or simply follow the Shepherd's voice while inviting the sheep to follow behind. Pleasing God, not man, must be our first priority.

Meat, not milk only. "Green pastures ... still waters." We need more living water and less soda with gas. Pastors need to prepare meaty meals from the living bread of life rather than fast food.

Presence, not delegation. "Though I walk through the valley ... You are with me." Instead of simply sending a note or a messenger, the pastor's presence at the bedside or in the living room could well usher in God's Spirit in a way that others, notes, voice mails and cards cannot.

Substance, not fluff. " ... they comfort me." The pastoral message needs more substance than fluff or style. We often spend more time building rapport with our listeners than imparting the Word in substance and practical application.

Enemy warnings. " ... a table before me in the presence of my enemies." Our sheep are spending excessive amounts of time feeding at the Enemy's tables--cable news instead of good news, lustful Internet instead of passionate intercession, material-seeking instead of seeking His face and sound-bite preaching instead of in-depth discipleship.

Oil and wine. "You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over." So when will the power of the Holy Spirit and the abundant life really overflow in the lives of our sheep so the world takes notice that kingdom stock is worth more than Wall Street?

Abiding, not passing through. " ... dwell in the house of the Lord forever." So the pastor is leading sheep into a lifestyle of abiding in His presence not just passing through a multitude of services and meetings weekly.

Compelled by the knowledge that sheep are still lost and those found are still hungry, we must be empowered as pastors to divorce our cultural paradigms and embrace our Shepherd as the only true model for our life's vocation.


Larry Keefauver, D.Min., ministers internationally with his wife, Judi, in equipping leaders through Your Ministry Consultation Services (www.ymcs.org) for ministry, marriage, parenting and inviting God's presence.

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Discouragement can be a serious struggle.

    Guard Your Spirit Against These 4 Crippling Attacks

    Are you struggling this Valentine's Day with one of these discouraging issues?

  • Some of the toughest lessons reap the greatest rewards.

    10 Tough Lessons Every Pastor Should Remember in Ground-Shaking Trials

    One is that your suffering may turn out to be the highest compliment the Father ever gave you.

  • Why Many Christians Misunderstand This Crucial Leadership Trait

    Great leadership doesn't start with a great education, although that is incredibly valuable. ...

  • Worship leaders, keep your team's attitude in check.

    This Can Quickly Erode a Worship Team's Culture

    God has given us talent and He calls for excellence, but excellence with this is not honoring ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Your Source of Unlimited Kingdom Energy and Power

    Jesus said that we can do greater works than He did and that He will do whatever we ask in His Name.

  • What reasons can you think of that leaders might not choose to delegate authority?

    7 Reasons Some Leaders Dump Delegation

    These could have a lot to do with stalled growth and low team morale.

  • These seven responses can get you on the right track.

    Responding Like Jesus When Your Church Kicks You Out

    It's a pain that many in the ministry have felt at least once and maybe more.

  • A 'What's in it for me?' mentality could bring your church down.

    The Mentality That May Be Killing Your Church

    And we wonder why so many congregations are stagnated, plateaued or declining.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders