By Rev. Ernesto Bathermy
As we analyzed and interpreted the images of a shepherd/pastor from the Old and New Testaments in the previous article, those texts shed light on our work and responsibilities as pastors:
- Feed the flock
When we speak of feeding the sheep, we refer to teaching and instructing the believers in the Word of God and in Christian doctrines. The Lord himself affirms that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). This declaration shows us clearly that the Word of God is spiritual food for the soul of a believer.
The apostle Peter referenced the Word of God when he wrote to Christians of the diaspora, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (I Peter 2:2)
The writer of Hebrews also referred to the teaching of the Word as spiritual food for the believer. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
It is evident, then, that when the Bible speaks of the role of a pastor as the one who should feed the flock, it is referring to the pastor feeding the believers with the Word of God.
- Care for the flock
To care for the flock has a broader connotation than to simply feed them. Likewise, a pastor’s role is not only to feed the congregation with the Word of God, but also to care for them. Isaiah speaks of a shepherd that carries the lambs in his arms against his breast. The lamb is one year old or less, so it is by definition young and inexperienced. In the same way, a pastor should shepherd new believers and care for them with special attention.
Another aspect of caring for the flock is clear when the prophet writes that Jehovah will gently lead the newborn lambs. It is a picture of the care that a pastor must have for the Lord’s flock.
- Guide the flock
According to John 10:4, the shepherd rescues his sheep and later goes before them while they follow. The shepherd guides his sheep not by staying behind them, but going ahead of them. In the same way, the pastor guides the church by being an example to the flock. (I Peter 5:3)
- Restore the flock
As we saw in Ezekiel 34:4, there will be weak, sick and injured members of the flock. At times they will stray and get lost. The same happens in the church. Some brothers and sisters are weak in the faith, and those are the ones the pastor must seek to strengthen.
Some believers, at any given moment, can become spiritually ill. The pastor has the responsibility to aide in curing them. Other believers will wander, and the pastor must seek to guide them back to the correct path.
Though the pastor must care for the entire flock, some brothers and sisters require special attention. The ones who are lost need to be helped to return to the fold.
A study of both the Old and New Testaments shows that the Bible says the role of the pastor is to feed, care for, guide and restore the believers. This understanding allows a pastor to develop his or her ministry with greater responsibility and awareness, but with less frustration about basing all “success” on tangible results.
*Rev. Ernesto Bathermy is the pastor of the Celestial Vision Church of the Nazarene in Los Alcarrizos, Dominican Republic. He is also the Dominican Republic Central District Superintendent and Rector of the Dominican Nazarene Seminary.