"We Don't Need a Pastor"

A while ago … Myself, a longtime friend several-years-my-elder, and one of the leaders of a certain church were having dinner. This leader’s church was in transition. They were in the process of looking for a suitable shepherd, but had not located one as of yet.
As the 3 of us conversed, I posed the question: “while you’re in-between Pastors, who is your shepherd? Do you have a Bishop? Is there an elder preacher who is holding the pulpit until you find one? Who are the church committees counseling with in their decisions?”
The leader’s response disturbed me: “we don’t need a pastor right now.” He continued, “we’re bringing in visiting ministers. They can speak for The Lord in this season and give us leadership. We can wait for a while.”
I was shaken. I’m still uneased by their words. Of course, I understood when they said we don’t need a pastor right now, the last two words were unnecessary. I knew the real meaning. This person was telling me: we (I) don’t need a pastor.

The Unmentionables
We talk about them from time-to-time: preachers who have moral failures. They are our favorite subjects in private at the post-service fellowships of our conferences and campmeetings. They are the bywords we warn young ministers about as they learn and grow in their callings – “don’t be like Bro. ________.” It is useful and important to teach young men how to avoid the pitfalls of immorality in its various forms, but in so doing let us not ignore a common theme among fallen men of God. From the local minister to the nationally known speaker, this shortcoming was manifested … They had no Pastor!
Who could tell them no?
Who could call & counsel them – and they listened, REALLY listened?
Who spoke hard truths to them, and their response would be, “The Word of The Lord is good”?
Who taught them and planted the word in their hearts?
Who interceded for them when they were downcast and confused?
Who could they tell their toughest circumstances, and know that individual cared and would go out of their way to help?
Who was their Pastor?
Usually the answer was no one.

5 Folds
The Shepherd is an office that is required of us Biblically.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”      Ephesians 4:11
We often view the Pastor through the lens of either their day-to-day decision-making duties in the local assembly or their weekly impartations of the Word in sermons God has given them. But let us not remove these men from their scriptural calling. The Greek word translated as Pastor above is rendered as Shepherd in every other instance in The New Testament. The Pastor is a shepherd of our souls - helping guiding, protecting, directing.

We must not cease reading at Ephesians 4:11 in understanding 5-fold ministry. Go a few more verses down, and you’ll see the purpose of these offices:
12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”      Ephesians 4:12-14
Perfection. Edification. Unifying in faith. And stability. I like the imagery of verse 14, tossed to and fro. This is the life of a soul that has no Spiritual authority. The man or woman with no accountability will be carried about with every wind of doctrine.
These 5 ministerial offices aren’t just necessary, they are mutually-upholding. They’re complementary. The Shepherd makes the offices of evangelist, teacher, et cetera POSSIBLE. Without one, the others go out-of-balance, like a dinner table missing one of its legs. It’s also similar to a car whose wheels are not properly aligned; a church without a Shepherd cannot drive a straight path. That car would seem ordinary from a distance, but just take it on the road: it would not tend to remain in its proper course.

Jethro & Balaam
I can seek The Lord for myself, can’t I? I listen to His voice in my ministry. I hear from God. … But so did Balaam. Balaam heard the audible voice of God, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a false prophet. He was used of God in times of past, but now a hireling for the wayward and unbelieving. That’s not an example I want to imitate!
The Kingdom of Midian had a national pastor. His name? Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law (Exo. 18:1). He wasn’t just Moses’s family, though. He was Moses’s Pastor. Jethro told him “no” (Exo. 18:17). Jethro gave him counsel (Exo. 18:19-23). Moses listened and obeyed (Exo.18:24).
However, Midian had a problem: they didn’t listen to their Pastor. They listened to Balaam (Num. 25:6; Num. 31:8).

Midian came from Abraham (Gen.25:1-2), but a family history of worshiping in truth didn’t immunize them from being led astray. A Balaam’s voice can never take the place of the elder voice God has placed in my life.

I need Jethro.
I need the voice of The Lord through the elders.
I need the hard truth spoken to me, whether or not that experience is pleasant.
I need the preaching of The Apostolic message, even though I am also a preacher.
I need the Shepherd who will protect me from the pretenders and Balaams surrounding me.
In other words, I need a Pastor!

 - Dr. Joel Revalee


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