Monday, May 25, 2009

What a leader is

In light of the current state of affairs in so-called Christianity today, I have decided to examine what a Biblical Pastor/Shepherd is expected to be and do according to the word of God. Too many preachers these days are not qualified Biblically to be in the position of leadership, and this is the reason many people are turned off of God completely. When the so-called Pastor of a church does not respect the duties and principals of God's ministry, the people affected by it are more likely to not trust other true ministers with their soul. This often leads to people turning their back on God completely, rather than seeking out an actual church where there is healing of the hurts caused by the world, sin, separation from God, and other people, well intentioned as they may appear to be. Come along for a journey through the scriptures. At the end of this post I will include webpages I have used as references in my studying, as well as scripture references throughout so that you can study it further on your own.

The first thing to do is to define clearly what a Pastor actually is. It seems rather pointless to decide what exactly they do without first defining what they are. The word "Pastor" is the english translation of the Greek word "Poimaino" (Strong's # is 4166), and is found only once in the NT (Ephesians 4:11), and 7 times in the OT (Jeremiah 3:15, 10:21, 12:10, 17:16, 22:22, 23:1,2) (1). This word is not a common one used in reference to and by the NT church. It seems to be a holdover from the previous belief system. It would appear to be used as a reference to a Shepherd, although figuratively OR literally. In reality, the same word could be used to describe a literal shepherd with sheep, or a figurative one in reference to anyone that cared for, watched for, or fed a flock of something. This means that the Ephesians reference to a "Pastor" requires anyone fulfilling this role to do so by fulfilling what a Shepherd would do with his sheep.

However, there is more assigned to this role than would meet the eye at first glance. When we look at sheep and the relationship with the shepherd, we see a man that leads his wards to food, water, and rest, and is responsible for protecting them from predators and natural dangers. A shepherd is also one that would go looking for lost sheep that strayed away or were missed when the flock moved and so were left behind. A shepherd would lead his sheep and they would follow him. We know from historical and current practices that sheep are relatively easy to herd. They tend to flock together as an inherited trait, and can be "hefted" to a specific pasture preventing them from straying...without the use of fences. This heft, once taught to a group of sheep, will be passed down by the elder sheep to the younger ones, and is not something a shepherd had to teach more than once, as long as the flock was never completely culled (2).

Bearing in mind that the ministry in a congregation are chosen from God's church, or God's "sheep", we see that an Elder is also a sheep, albeit with more experience. Thus we must examine what an "Elder" is to fully understand the nature and calling of a Pastor/Shepherd as they are one of God's sheep.

The word "Elder" in the NT is translated from the greek word "Presbyteros" (Strong's # 4245). An Elder is one that can impart some knowledge to younger people based on his own life experiences and walk with God (3). This requires him to not be a young man but one who has been through some good times, some bad times, and some utterly desolate times. Without these things, he would have no ability to empathize with the troubles, trials, and elations that others experience, and therefore couldn't begin to counsel, encourage, or rejoice with them.

To finalize the full meaning of a Pastor, we must examine the link in 1 Peter 5:1-2. We see that Elders are also equated with "Overseer" which is translated from the greek word "Presbuteros" (Strong's # 1985). The word refers to the duties performed by a person, and is not precisely related to the person themself (4).

So the word "Pastor" is found to be synonymous to and inclusive of the words "Overseer", "Elder", and "Shepherd". This, in itself defines the Biblical duties and calling of a Pastor. A Pastor is called to lead and teach the flock, counsel them in life's paths, feed them with God's word, and to help the poor and deprived in the church.

So far, noone in modern day Christianity would have any disagreement with this. In fact, they would take it as justification for their status and position in the church. What the NT states therefore is thus: A Pastor is an Elder is an Overseer, an Elder is a Pastor is an Overseer, an Overseer is a Pastor is an Elder. The problem this creates for most modern day legalistic churches is that they have One Guy in charge and he is THE Pastor. Nowhere does the NT refer to a single Elder being in charge of a congregation. In fact, the opposite is true in that we continually read the NT speaking of Elders in the very specific masculine Plural in every congregation mentioned. If the Bible is correct that an Elder is a Pastor is an Overseer, then no congregation should have a single domineering authoritarian "leader" that is the complete authority in the lives of the members. This model is not found Biblically and is the reason why unethical conduct permeates many organizations. It allows for "absolute power to corrupt absolutely". The fact that the word "Pastor" only appears once in the NT church should be indicative of the lack of importance the Scriptures place on the title. The church was designed to be run by the Elders (plural) performing the different functions as their talents permitted. There was never in the NT church an instance where a single person was ever in complete authority over a group without full accountability to the other Elders in the assembly.

Now we come to what the Bible considers to be an Elder/Pastor. We are given definite requirements for this in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:1-4. We find from these scriptures that an Elder is to be Blameless, Husband of one wife, circumspect, Sober, well behaved, hospitable, a teacher, not a heavy drinker, not a fighter, not greedy, patient, not covetous, one that rules his house well, having children that are obedient to him, experienced, of a good report of those OUTSIDE the church, unaccused, having children that are unaccused as well, not selfwilled, not soon angry, a lover of good men (not simply men in the "church"), just, holy, temperate, holding fast to what he has been taught, not as lords over God's people but as examples. This last clause means that they must fulfill all the statements made by Jesus and the Apostles as to what a Christian should be. If a man falls short of any of these qualities then he is no longer Biblically qualified to be a Pastor/Deacon/Overseer. On the other hand, any man that DOES fulfill these qualities automatically fulfills that capacity (5).

It is worth mentioning that the NT does not record any specific annointing being poured on men to qualify them for this position/calling. It is based simply on their life and the requirement of the Holy Ghost residing in them. The scripture that is used to justify a body of men pointing out others that they feel are qualified to minister is Acts 13:1-3. The broad application of this is not supported Biblically as the scripture specifically states that it was for the work that God had for THOSE TWO individuals, not as a pattern for choosing ministers as a persistent doctrine. If God had wanted it set as such, He would have recorded it as such to the Apostles He chose in the first place. Not to a single assembly to help strengthen and encourage two men twho were going to do arguably the greatest amount of work the Kingdom of God has ever seen.

The other scripture that is twisted out of context is 1 Timothy 4:14. This scripture is written, once again, to a specific man, not to the Elders of the church as a general whole. Therefore, to apply it to the entirety of God's church is erroneous, and demonstrably incorrect Biblical exegesis.

Taking all this as a whole shows that congregations in God's church are to be ruled by a plurality of Elders/Pastors/Overseers, rather than the usual model of a single man setting himself up as the authority in a group. Regardless of a man's personal claim on God granted authority and the apparent confirmation of such by other men of the same organization, a congregation is Biblically shown to have a group of men that oversee it as a whole. It cannot be Biblically shown in the NT that the opposite is true. Therefore, if you truly want to be in God's church, you MUST be in a congregation that is ruled thus.

In conclusion, the Elders/Pastors/Overseers are simply sheep within the flock that fulfill the requirements of the Bible. They do not have a special annointing, they don't have a higher calling. They are simply men that are shown and proven to live uprightly, with wisdom to share from life experiences. Any other form of church government cannot be proven as Biblically correct as far as the New Testament example is concerned. To do so requires you to ignore the quoted scriptures.

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I truly suggest you try studying these references as they go into quite a bit more detail.

God bless and keep you



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