This blog post will be of particular interest to those who are pastors and those who aspire to be pastors. There is much confusion about the role of a pastor and indeed the role of the church in this present time. These words by Donald Bloesch1 are encouraging, humbling, inspiring, and terrifying. These words are worthy of being read at pastoral ordination services.
Our position is that the pastor is an authority figure and a servant figure at the same time. He has been placed in his role by Christ himself through the inward calling of the Holy Spirit, though the congregation must recognize and ratify what Christ has done. The pastor must not lord it over the congregation but be an example of patience and humility. He must give guidance and direction when necessary. He is a resource person to be sure, but even more he is a spiritual director and confessor. He must not be detached from his people but must identify himself with their trials and sufferings. He must intercede for them daily in prayer . . . . He must seek to please God above all and not his congregation, but he must place no unnecessary stumbling blocks before his people that might prevent them from accepting and following the Gospel. He will be willing to share authority with gifted laypersons of the congregation, who are also priests, but he will not abdicate authority by simply parroting the prejudices of his people. His aim is not to help people adjust to their social and cultural environment but to direct them to God so that they will then be inspired to change their environment. He will see his role as a shepherd rather than fellow seeker, since he has been entrusted with a commission to make known the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:17,18). At the same time he will also see himself as a servant who will subordinate himself to his people in their requests and desires, who will make himself continually available to his people as an ambassador of Christ and an agent of reconciliation. Such a pastor will inspire those in his care also to be priests, to be intercessors and witnesses to the truth at home and at work. He will welcome reproof from his fellow Christians so long as it is done in charity and is based on Scripture. A church directed by such a pastor will indeed be a holy priesthood where all share in some way in the priestly and kingly and prophetic ministry of Christ. The gifts of the Holy Spirit will be in evidence not only in the pulpit but in Sunday school classes, youth groups, and prayer and Bible study groups. The laity will be the missionary arm of the church, for it is through their outreach in the community that the spiritually lost will hear the good news and will be brought into the worship and life of the church.
Donald Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology, p. 122, 123.