Duties of a Pastor, Part 2
"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you." (Heb. 13:17 ESV)
Of all the duties required of a pastor, the care of souls is most central. In a sense, "keeping watch" over souls is more a descriptive summary of all the duties of an elder. We could go so far as saying that a pastor shepherds souls. Any other duty is an aspect of that.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that leaders in the church (otherwise defined as pastor/elders) will have to give an account for how they have watched over the souls of the flock.
To the Ephesian elders, Paul says the following. "Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his blood." (Acts 20:28 ESV)
The seriousness of the pastoral charge is intense. Pastors/elders are caring for the blood-ransomed, Christ-bought flock of God. Any negligence or mistreatment will be called to account. Who of us is sufficient for that kind of responsibility.
An elder/pastor is at best a redeemed, forgiven sinner doing the best he knows how to do. He is constrained by the word of God. He is answerable to God. He is dependent on the grace of Christ. He relies on the power of the Holy Spirit. Even so, being human, he can fail. He can make mistakes.
What he must not do is lose sight of his chief responsibility. He shepherds the flock of God, and he watches like a soldier set on a wall to warn of any harm he foresees.
I'll close with Paul's words concerning his apostolic ministry. There are parallels to the shepherding role of the pastor. "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me." (Col. 1:28 ESV)
What better summary can there be? The duty of the pastor is to work for that goal, that he may present everyone mature in Christ.
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