Monday, April 5, 2010

On the Importance of Strong Pastoral Leadership

"I believe in strong pastoral leadership."

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.


Jeffrey said...

I absolutely agree. In my experience, Pastors do more harm than good when they see the body as "Their church". What is said: "I'm just one of you", and what is done: "I'm the boss" is almost universal. How much better to have each one share a teaching, an insight, a spiritual perspective, etc.

It would be instructive to compile a list of things generally espoused, vs diametrically opposed practice. I haven't been reading your blog for long, but you seem to be well attuned to these kinds of issues.



Gordon said...


Eric said...


It is instructive that churches in the NT had multiple elders. This keeps the focus off one man as "the pastor." When there is only one, the tendency is for everyone to look to him for leadership. The one man pastor too often gets in the way of the people seeing Christ.

I like what you said about each person sharing something with the body. We can and should all be edified by one another.

Thanks for your comments.

Eric said...



Aussie John said...


It has been my sad experience to realize that even when there is multiple eldership, there is often actually still one "Boss" in a group of "yes men"!

Eric said...


How sad that is.

It seems that anytime one person takes the main leadership role, the result is an obscuring of the church's view of the splendor of Jesus.

May we all magnify Him instead of ourselves.

Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Cristy said...

I both agree and disagree. The pastor is a person who has been called by God to the pulpit. And why these are God's people he is leading as a shepherd does, he is leading them none the less. As a shepherd, he must be certain all affairs in the church are in order, and while I believe the church should take a vote on these matters, the pastor must be a strong leader, to lead his people to Christ. To give them Christ's message.

As you said, pastor means "shepherd" and what does a shepherd do, lead his flock. And that means you need a pastor with strong leadership ability.

However, a true pastor is compelled by God in everything he does. A true pastor does not HAVE to prepare a sermon, but rather the Lord's words fill him when the time is right.

Eric said...


I have a challenge for you: see which of the above statements you make about the pastor can be supported by the bible. Then let me know what you find. Thanks.

Eric said...


I appreciate your comments.

Let me ask you this: Can you support the things you say with scripture?

For example, you wrote, "The pastor is a person who has been called by God to the pulpit." Can you show me that in the bible?

You also wrote, "To give them Christ's message." You were referring to a pastor. Can you show me that in th bible?

We need to be careful that what we believe comes from scripture and not from man-made traditions.

Please let me know. Thanks.