So What are Pastors Supposed to do?

If all these responsibilities are given to every believer, what then are pastors supposed to do? Quite simply, they are called to equip the holy believers to do all those things (see Eph. 4:11-12). They are called to teach those holy believers to obey all of Christ’s commandments (see Matt. 28:19-20) by precept and example (see 1 Tim. 3:2; 4:12-13; 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:16-4:4; 1Pet. 5:1-4).

Scripture couldn’t make this clearer. The biblical role of the pastor is not to gather as many deople as possible at Sunday-morning church services. It is to “present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Biblical pastors don’t tickle peoples’ ears (see 2 Tim. 4:3); they teach, train, exhort, admonish, correct, reprove and rebuke, all based on God’s Word (see 2 Tim. 3:16-4:4).

Paul listed some of the qualifications for a man to stand in the office of pastor in his first letter to Timothy. Fourteen of the fifteen have to do with his character, indicating that the example of his lifestyle is the most important thing:

It is a trustworthy statement; if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?); and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (1 Tim. 3:1-7).

Comparing these qualifications with those that are often listed by institutional churches that are searching for a new pastor reveals the primary problem with so many churches. They are looking for an employee manager/entertainer/short-speech-giver/administrator/ psychologist/activities and program director/fund-raiser/friend-of-everyone/work horse. They want someone to “run the ministry of the church.” The biblical overseer, however, above all else must be a man of great character and commitment to Christ, a true servant, because his goal is to reproduce himself. He must be able to say to his flock, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

For further study concerning the pastor’s office, see also Acts 20:28-31; 1 Tim. 5:17-20; and Tit. 1:5-9.