7 Marks of a Good Pastor
I have always loved Psalm 23. It is the favorite passage of many Christians for comfort in times of distress and trouble. The other day, however, I looked at it differently: “The Lord is my pastor" (same word as shepherd). How does the Lord pastor us and how could a pastor be improved in his pastoring by following that example? The primary job of a pastor is to feed and lead. I found seven different aspects of pastoring referred to in this psalm. The first four relate to how you feed and the last three about how you lead:
he first four relate to how you feed and the last three about how you lead:
- He makes me lie down in green pastures. A pastor’s teaching must be engaging, relatable, applicable. The messages are “Bible based” not “Bible laced.” Each message has simplicity for new believers and depth for “Jedi warrior” believers.
- He leads me beside the still waters. The pastor leads the sheep in experiencing the presence of God in worship. Dry, hurried times of worship leave the sheep anxious and frustrated. Let them saturate undisturbed in communion between them and God.
- He restores my soul. The pastor leads his flock through "soul therapy," dealing with dysfunction in families, relationships, past hurts, forgiveness issues, and emotional immaturity. Weekend retreat formats are ideal for this as people experience great breakthroughs in their past failures.
- He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. The pastor must lead his sheep through separation from the world. They must apply the Scripture to their money, their work, and their words. They must break off immoral relationships , habits, and bondages. This is best accomplished in helping them to find small group relationships.
- Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death you are with me. In addition to feeding his people, the pastor must lead his people through the dark times and crises of their lives. "You are with me" means that a pastor is present at the hospital, the funeral home, the family crisis. Only a true pastor finds great fulfillment in walking with a member or family through their darkest hour. They feel his "rod and staff" continually guiding them through the pain.
- You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. The pastor must equip his people in how to relate and respond to a godless, secular world that surrounds them every day. His job is to MATURE them so that they live with an "anointed head" (boldness and authority) and an "overflowing cup" (unquenchable joy) even in the midst of filthy, perverted people in the workplace.
- I will dwell in the house of The Lord forever. Good pastoring results in long-term, mature sheep. We have members who have been in our church over 40 years. They would not think of “jumping the fence” to another flock. They have been following the "goodness" and "mercy" of that flock for decades.
As a leader, I encourage you to view your life through the lens of these 7 points. Are there areas that are lacking and need work? Begin to think through how you will be proactive about growing in those areas and develop a balanced approach.