Friday, December 30, 2011

Pastoral Leadership

But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing
mother tenderly cares for her own children.  Having
so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased
to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also
our own lives, because you had become very dear
to us.  For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship,
how working night and day so as not to be a burden to
any of you we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and
uprightly we behaved toward you believers; just as you
know how we were exhorting and encouraging and  
imploring each one of you as a father would his own children.
...For this reason we also constantly thank God that when
you received the word of God which you heard from us,
you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it
really is, the word of God, which also performs its work
in you who believe.
I Thessalonians 2:7-11, 13
italics and underlining mine

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God
to you; and considering the result of their conduct,
imitate their faith.
Hebrews 13:7
italics and underlining mine

There is much said and written about pastoral leadership and all that is required, even conferences and seminars dealing with this issue.  I think understanding leadership and its principles is good, and even helpful; but when dealing with pastoral leadership there is a paradigm shift from the leadership model that is touted in our corporate and sports world, and unfortunately this model is what is suggested most often in the context of pastoral leadership.

I find it interesting that the Bible does not go into all the areas that the modern seminars do in talking about pastors as leaders, but what is does do is to lay out the basics for a pastor, which assume the pastor will be leading a group of people.  The core requirements in the Scriptures are contained in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and revolve around demonstrated character, demonstrated management of his own home, and an ability to teach that comes with a knowledge of and proficiency with the Scriptures. The reason for these requirements, and how they flesh out in the pastor's leadership is demonstrated in the Scriptures above.  The pastor is to lead with the Word and by example. 

Notice how many times the gospel/word of God is used in the section of I Thessalonians.  Notice the leaders who were to be remembered and imitated in Hebrews....those who spoke the word of God.  These, of course, fit in with the Lord's instruction to Peter to feed his sheep.  The pastor must lead his flock with the word of God.  After all the word of the Lord is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).  Our first priority must be to lead our people with the word of God.

Then,we must be leading our people by our example.  To do this we must also be leading ourselves with the word of God.  Again, listen to the Psalmist in Psalm 119:9 "How can a young man (or older man for that matter) keep his way pure?  By keeping it according to Your word."  It is the pure way, the Lord's way,that when lived out by the pastor is the example to his people....the example that is to be imitated. 

Why did the people in Thessalonica receive the Word as the word of God, and not the word of men?  Because they saw it lived out in the lives of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.  Look at the underlined words above...they proved themselves, they imparted their lives, they behaved in a devout and upright manner.  And this did not happen in a vacuum...the Thessalonians were witnesses, knew personally what Paul and crew had done, and were to recall these very facts.   Also, we see that the Hebrews were to remember the result of the conduct of their leaders, in other words, the fruit born out of their lives, and then to imitate their faith.

The lives of the pastors give weight and credence to the words that they preach and teach.  In essence you should not be able to separate the man from his message, they should be the same.  This is the way that God has designed it, so that His people could be sure about both the message and the man.  So when we think about our pastoral leadership, let's make first things first....let's put first things first....let's emphasize in our ministry what the Lord emphasizes, our handling of the Word and the life that we live.  These should be the foundation of our pastoral leadership, and will provide a firm foundation for all else that goes with it.

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