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Duties of a Pastor, Part 3

sheep feeding

"He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep." (Jn. 21:17 ESV)

When we think of a literal shepherd, one of the critical duties that comes to mind is feeding the flock. From the 23rd Psalm, we picture how the shepherd makes the sheep to lie down in green pastures. The sheep, we are told, do not want because the shepherd has put them in front of the food.

But we don't have to arrive at this idea simply by the analogy of the shepherd. Several places in the New Testament express this truth in plain, declarative language.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul refers to pastors as pastors and teachers. "Pastors/teachers" is a compound of two in one, not two separate offices. Pastors teach and preach the word of God.

Consider how Paul describes the role of elder to Timothy. "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching." (1 Tim. 5:17 ESV)

Jesus quoted Deuteronomy when being tempted by the devil. 'But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matt. 4:4 ESV) Our spiritual nourishment is the word of God.

The way shepherds feed their flock is by leading them to the word of God by which they are to live. Therefore a pastor will preach the word of God in season and out of season, whether men have turned away or not. He will preach the word when it is popular and when it is despised. This is his duty. He cannot force the sheep to eat, but he can lead them to life-giving words from the scripture.

A pastor's duty is to lead the flock to the scriptures, not his personal opinions or to human words that tickle their ears. He will present it as attractively as he can but will not rob it of its power.