Profile of a Pastor

PROFILE OF A PASTOR

Selected Scripture

When you hear words like “profile” or “profiling,” what comes to your mind?

The words like profile or profiling has to do with representation, characteristic, or distinction. And sometimes those words have negative connotations. For instance, we sometimes hear in the news about:

·Profile on a serial killer

·Profile of the terrorists

·Racial profiling by the police (it really happened to me several years ago)

However, this evening I want to use the word profile in a positive sense, namely profile of a pastor. In other words, what does a pastor look like? I raise this question because of twofold reasons: 1) although many people have their own ideas about what a pastor should do, average churchgoers are not biblically informed as to what a pastor is called to do, 2) for every one of you to be equipped and/or reminded so that you can keep your pastor accountable for the glory of God.

At the onset of this message I just want to say that this message is not a self-serving message. No pastor in his right mind would uphold the biblical truths which you are about to hear as a means to serve himself. If anything it could be the minister’s self-judging message than self-serving message.

With that in mind, I would like to begin this message with this statement: you can see what a pastor looks like by what he does and what he does not do.

In our expositions from Acts 6 we’ve learned that the functions of deacons are to be the support-team for the elders in the church, meaning they are responsible for freeing up the elders not to be entangled with anything that would hinder them to do their primary God-given duties, namely being devoted to prayer and ministry of the word. Hence deacons are responsible for administration, maintenance, and physical care for the members in the church (also known as mercy ministry – e.g., food distributions for the widows, etc).

But what about the pastors and elders? What are they responsible? In other words, what are the pastor/elders called to do? I have already hinted that pastors are responsible for being devoted to prayer and ministry of the word. But what does that look like exactly? How does that flesh-out exactly? That is a million dollar question that requires understanding on both parties – i.e., the pastors/elders and the members of the church. Not only the pastors/elders need to know the answer for this question (unfortunately many don’t), but also the members of the church because how are the members of the church going to hold the pastors/elders accountable and responsible if the church members do not know what the pastors/elders’ job descriptions are?

Another way to put it, how are the church members going to measure whether the pastors/elders are really fulfilling their biblical duties if they don’t want know what to measure with? To know the answer for this question is so crucial for the life and health of the church and the effectiveness of the leadership in the church.

But before we tackle this million dollar question, I would like to begin with reading 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to set the tone for this message and also to lay down the foundation. It says:

·NAU 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God (or in ESV “breathed out by God”) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

This passage teaches not only a high view of Scripture and the authority of Scripture but also the sufficiency of Scripture, especially, in formulating ministry plans and ministry priorities. It demands that we must begin with God and His Word (the Bible) in determining what a church is called to do, especially, the role of her pastor. All that is to say, we don’t determine what a church should do or what pastors/elders should do. No! The only one who determines what a church should be or what pastors/elders should do is God, and the answers are clearly found in His Word. To put it another way, our opinions do not count very much when compare to God’s word. The church cannot make decisions based on people’s opinions or likes or dislikes or the latest polls of what people want. We take direct orders from our Great Shepherd when it comes to primary essence.

This evening I would like for us to look at the pastor’s primary duties from three major New Testament sections. First, I would like for us to briefly look at First and Second Thessalonians. To me, if there is one church in the Bible I would like for us to emulate, it would be the church of the Thessalonians. Secondly, I would like for us to briefly visit the Pastoral Epistles. And lastly, I would like to visit briefly Peter’s letters. After all, he was the leader of the Twelve and it is profitable to read what he has to say about what a pastor is called to do since he had the greatest opportunity to learn from the best.

I. Pastor’s Primary Duties from I and II Thessalonians[1]

1. Praying faithfully (1 Thes. 1:2-3; 3:9-13)

If you have any leadership responsibility in the church (whether teaching a children’s class, managing finance, leading music, etc.), your responsibility also includes praying. If a person cannot faithfully pray for the people he or she ministers to, then such person is not qualified to lead. Interceding faithfully and regularly for other’s spiritual wellbeing is a basic responsibility for a spiritual leader.

Furthermore, this principle goes beyond just a leader but also includes their spouses. If you are married to a man who has any leadership responsibility in the church, you are also equally responsible for praying for your husband’s particular ministry, your ministry, and for your church generally. When you are married, you are no longer independent. You’re now a team. You’re now part of the ministry. Although you may not functionally and equally do what your spouse does, you are equally committed and as much part of the ministry as he is.

There is a popular view amongst many pastors’ wives (including church leaders’ wives) today that says, “I’m not the pastor, my husband is.” I fully understand what that means and what that implies. However, I do not believe that should excuse the wives to be prayerless and spiritually lazy. The biblical complementarian view teaches that there is a functional distinction between men and women in the church, but this does not negate the spiritual responsibility that applies equally to all men and women in the church, namely to pray. What better example for a complementarian view than when both husband and wife of leadership complement each other in their prayer life.

2. Preaching faithfully (1 Thes. 1:4-6; 2:1-9, 13)

3. Patterning faithfully (1 Thes. 1:5b-8; 2:10) – i.e., being a model

  • “imitators” (mimhtai.) – “mimics” or “followers”

  • It is a goal of a pastor to reproduce himself by making disciples. That means a pastor would pour out his life sacrificially to be a model for others to imitate.

A pastor would have a mixed emotion when others would say, “I want to be like my pastor” (happy in one sense and terrifying responsibility on the other).

4. Parenting faithfully (1 Thes. 2:7-8, 10-12)

·By God’s sovereign grace pastors often experience genuine spiritual regeneration or rebirths under their ministry. Hence they become a spiritual father to converts. This was true of Paul. For instance, in 1 Timothy 1:18 he refers to Timothy, his child; and 2 Timothy 1:2, “Timothy, my beloved son.”

·“exhortation” (parakalou/ntej) in verse 12 does not simply mean sweet-talking, rather it has a sense of urging and begging to do the right thing just as any loving parent would do. And you need to understand that when a pastor exhorts you biblically, you need to humbly, maturely, and biblically receive it with thanksgiving, and not with grief and self-defense. According to James 1:19, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

5. Pre-cautioning faithfully (1 Thes. 2:14-18; 3:4-5; 4:1-8; 5:1-6)

6. Protecting faithfully (2 Thes. 3:6-7, 14)

II. Pastor’s Primary Duties from the Pastoral Epistles

7. Providing faithfully – i.e., sound doctrine/God’s truth (1 Tim. 3:2 – “able to teach”; 4:11-13; 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15, 24 – “able to teach”; 3:16-17; Titus 1:9; 2:1)

The wrong kind of preachers has created the wrong kind of Christians by declaring the wrong kind of messages, compelled by the wrong motives.[2]

Because the pastor is driven by providing God’s truth, he ought to be resourceful (books, preachers, churches, etc.).

8. Pointing-out faithfully – i.e., pointing out false teachers and/or unfaithful people (1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 1:15; 2:15-18; 4:13-15).

It’s amazing to see how many times Paul names the names. In other words, mark such individual(s) who may be harmful to the unity and purity of the church. In fact in 2 Timothy 3:5 he commands to be separated from such people (ESV and NAU “avoid” such people; NKJ “turn away”; NIV “have nothing to do with them”).

III. Pastor’s Primary Duties from the Peter’s Epistles

9. Pastoring faithfully – 1 Pet. 5:1-4

What does “shepherd the flock of God” in verse 2 mean? It means all eight points you have heard thus far. It refers to all of the above.


[1] Adopted from Richard L. Mayhue, “Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry,” in Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry, ed. by John MacArthur and The Master’s Seminary Faculty (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1995), 14-15.

[2] Warren Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, 61.

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