This was a statement that I heard quite a bit while in seminary. Not surprisingly, those who said it were all headed toward being pastors (or at least they hoped so). So, basically they were saying this: they should be strong leaders and treated as such once they were hired by churches.
I also believe in strong pastoral leadership. There is a key difference, however, between what I mean and what those pastors-to-be meant. They key difference focuses on who that pastor is.
While the seminary students were thinking of themselves, I'm talking about Jesus Christ. I believe in the strong pastoral leadership of Jesus Christ over His church. He is the one, and only one, who should be the strong pastoral leader.
Peter makes this abundantly clear in I Peter 5:1-4:
1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
The English word for "pastor" comes from the Greek word used for "shepherd." We see Peter use a form of this word twice in this passage. In 5:2, Peter uses the word as a command to elders. Interestingly, Peter instructs the elders in 5:3 not to acts as lords or be domineering over those in the church. Instead, elders are to be examples.
Who, according to the bible, will exercise strong pastoral leadership? Peter addresses this as well. The person in charge of the church is also the one in charge of the shepherds. He is called the "Chief Shepherd" in 5:4. He is the one who is the one strong leader.
In this passage, it is clearly Jesus Christ who is the Chief Shepherd. He is the strong ruler of His church.
While "strong pastoral leadership" is common among human pastors when referring to what they do, they are being unbiblical when they say and do this.
Jesus is the only real strong pastor of the church. He alone is the Head. He alone has the right.
Most of us other pastors need to get out of the way so the church can see its Chief Shepherd and strong pastor - Jesus Christ.