Radio Broadcast 28 August 2005 Topic: What is a pastor? CW – In the course of talking to us about the subject of morality and ethics last week Dr. Ford gave us some information about the challenges facing pastors today. Following up on that I want to put him on the spot this week and talk about what a real pastor is. Ford – Some people think all a pastor has to do is prepare two or three sermons a week and spend a couple of hours delivering them. As a matter of fact some do not even go so far as to think about a pastor having to spend time in sermon preparation at all. They would be surprised to learn how much time good sermon preparation takes. But they would be even more surprised to learn that preaching is but a small part of a pastor’s duties. CW – In seminary you drew a distinction between pastors and preachers. Not everyone called to preach is called to be a pastor. Ford – That is right. You have many different kinds of callings within the preaching ministry. But for a pastor, preaching is but a small part, an important part, but a small part of what a pastor is called to do. CW – Okay, well now we are all set to hear you explain what a pastor is. Ford – The best way to discover what a pastor is would be to find out what God’s Word has to say about pastors. For instance, one thing that amazes some people is when they discover that pastors were not new in the Christian faith. Israel already had pastors among her people that gave guidance and direction to them. One of the things that we find in the Bible is that the false pastors among the leaders of Israel were condemned in God’s Word, and that condemnation was one of the messages transmitted to Israel by the prophets who themselves often had a pastoral role in Israel. God does not change His mind about things like false pastors either. Before the New Testament canon was finished there had already arisen a problem of men who were false pastors in the Christian church, and those who run where God has not called them are also condemned in the New Testament. CW – I know there is a lesson in what you have just said and you want to share it with us. Ford – You’re right. We can learn two fast lessons from the study of Scripture references to what I have just mentioned. The first is that modern pastors share a function with Old Testament prophets who were both forth-speakers and fore-speakers. Pastors are supposed to be forth-speakers, speaking forth the precepts of God to those charged to their care. The second lesson is in keeping with that forth-speaking: they should also mark out those false pastors that come to their attention and condemn them, calling them by name. CW – I find pastors are often reluctant to mark false pastors by calling them by name. They feel they are stirring waters that do not make for smooth sailing. For the sake of our listeners you need to define what you mean by prophets forth-speaking and fore-speaking. I am sure there are many who have never heard those terms before. Ford – We often think about the prophets as people who told what was going to happen before it occurred. Actually that was the smaller part of what they did. But that is called fore-speaking. Telling what is going to happen before it happens. We have people who are prophecy preachers today, telling about what the Bible says is going to happen before it occurs. They are Eschatologists. They have given themselves to the study of prophecy and share what they believe they have learned. They may not be perfect in every detail, but they are accountable to God, as any other teacher for what they say. Some people actually claim God has given them the gift of fore-telling things not already contained in the Bible. If they are wrong, in even the smallest detail, according to the Word of God they should be put to death. I am very suspicious of anyone who says they have the gift of prophecy, and begin to make wild claims. I have yet to see one of them be correct all the time, and according to God’s Word if they are wrong in any part they are worthy of death. The office of a pastor has the prophetic gift of forth-telling, not fore-telling. A forth-teller is a person who speaks forth as the oracles of God. Much of such messages are condemnatory. They condemn the false pastors, false prophets, and false teachings. But more importantly they will condemn the evil acts they see going on in the world around them. This has always gotten pastors into trouble with the world. I would like to give you an example. CW – Yes, please do. Ford – On December third 2002, Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker signed into law a bill that made homosexuals a protected class and could cause pastors in that state who condemn their sin to be jailed. This is nothing new. CW – You gave your students in one of the preaching courses a sermon by Hugh Latimer called “The Sermon of the Plow.” He did some forth-speaking like you are talking about in that sermon. Ford – Yes, and he was burned at the stake in 1555. His last words to his companion in death Hugh Ridley was "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England as I trust shall never be put out!" We find legislation being passed all about us to make sinful behavior a thing protected from the clear voice of truth. This is nothing we have not seen happen before. The world never learns to not sin, but the preachers of God’s word find in the days when the world protests loudest, Christian pastors have their finest hours. Things like the attempts to muzzle pastors through the enactment of laws only give the real ones an opportunity to shine forth with greater clarity. CW - You have already made it plain that a pastor’s job is not an easy one. But I suspect you have a lot more to say about what a pastor is. Ford – Yes I do and much of it is not likely to be popular. When we get down to what a pastor is supposed to be we find that the revelation of that shakes the status quo in most of the churches round about. But everything I have to say I can back up with the Word of God. CW – I believe we manage to shake someone up with every broadcast we make so we might as well get on with it. Ford – In the Scripture a pastor is called an overseer or bishop. He is a person who has oversight. In other words he runs things. He is characterized as the undershepherd of that Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the church where he is pastor, he takes the oversight of that church. Everything that goes on within a church is a spiritual matter, and the pastor is supposed to exercise oversight over it all. A shepherd when grazing sheep looks out for where it is good for sheep to graze and steers them in that direction. When the pastor or shepherd sees a problem or danger it is not a matter referred to a committee of sheep to decide on, the shepherd takes definite action in determining in what direction the flock should go. CW – Sounds like you are saying deacons don’t run the church. Ford – Among other things. If deacons are doing their jobs, they are more like sheepdogs following the shepherd’s direction. They are not lords over the church. Concerning the pastor people are admonished to hear them and obey. Now I know some have used the Hebrews passage as a means to wrongly control Christians. This is why churches should be careful when they get pastors in the first place. You need godly, God called men to be your pastors, but when you have them they are to be obeyed. Hebrews makes it clear the reason: They watch over the souls of the people in the church as one who must give account before God. CW – For our listening audience information, Dr. Ford is referring to the teaching contained in Hebrews chapter 13. Ford – Pastors have a duty to be praying for the members of their congregation on a regular basis. Hebrews teaches that pastors must give an account of the people God has given them to watch over. I can tell you that it is no fun when you go into the prayer closet with the intent of communing with God concerning some matter on your mind and the Lord wants to talk with you about some particular person in the church. Most church members have no idea that for real pastors such accounting is even taking place. They look at pastors and think they are people who really have it made, living an easy life. Very often pastors find themselves having problems with church members and then when they go to be refreshed in the prayer closet they find that God is first waiting to do business with them before He gives them His peace. CW – If people knew how much work was involved in pastoral ministry, few would want to be a pastor. Ford – There are a lot of people who run where God has not called. The average work week for a real pastor is 76 hours, almost double what most people work. And, that is just the average. Some weeks a pastor feels like he has forgotten what sleep is. If he forgets what prayer is, he is ruined. CW – There are a lot of people who do get ruined. The statistics on people leaving the ministry annually is really amazing. Ford – Some people leave because they should have never been in the ministry, so their departure is a good thing. Others leave because they become discouraged in the ministry. Some of these spend years getting back into a spiritual and emotional condition where they can return to a pastorate. Some are never able to. And, to be honest with you, for some who falter the hand of God is removed and they no longer have the calling to the pastorate upon them. CW – What is the main reason for pastors leaving the ministry? Can you give me a list of principle reasons for pastors quitting? Ford – The main reason for pastors leaving the ministry is church members that wear them down and finally wear them out. I have heard it said on several occasions about a pastor that he was the greatest thing in the world for the first two or three years, and after that he was not available to the members when they needed him. That is a sign of a pastor that got wore out before he even had time to really learn his people. Getting to really know a congregation takes a pastor about seven years. Most leave for a new church before they truly learn the people they came to serve in the old one. The second reason is problems within the pastor’s family. Some of those problems are also related to church members, but one of the main reasons is the tremendous demand the pastorate makes on the time of pastors. Behind that come reasons common to other people like financial problems. A pastor with a doctorate is one of the lowest paid doctors around, but it can take a pastor as long to get to, say a doctor of theology, as it takes a medical doctor to earn his degree. The third reason in order has to do with spiritual reasons. One of the great failures of churches is a failure of the members to uphold their pastors in prayer. But in the end it is the responsibility of each minister to keep his own spiritual life alive. In fact, if he does not do so, he cannot effectively carry out the duties of a pastor. CW – We are now well into our program, and we have learned a lot, but we have not yet fully answered the question about what a pastor is. Ford – In Ephesians we are given a picture of pastors as pastor-teachers. The pastor is supposed to be the first teacher in the church he leads. He is not only the undershepherd after the Lord Jesus Christ, he is the chief teacher. Many pastors fail because there is a lack of teaching content in their messages, and they never actually conduct times of teaching where they instruct the church. I have known some otherwise good men, who failed when they stood before their congregations because all they ever delivered was salvation messages. While I agree with many evangelists that a good many churches are filled with a great many lost people who are merely religious, feeding a steady diet of “ye must be born again” will not help these people because they have already learned to tune that out. And, it will not build up the body of the born again who want to hear the words that tell them how then they ought to live. CW – So pastors are supposed to be leaders and teachers in addition to preaching the Gospel of salvation. But we need to form a more complete picture of what the pastor is. Ford – Paul gave a wonderful picture of a pastor when he spoke to the Philippians concerning himself. What he said was: “Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:…” Paul recognized that in the ministry, and particularly in the pastorate, the man of God has a responsibility to do some teaching; he has to fulfill his responsibilities while maintaining a good report among men, so what is heard about the man of God is good, and finally he has to do some living, so that he is a living example of what it is he is talking about. CW - Paul’s statement comes with a promise too, “and the God of peace shall be with you.” That is a promise to the people following a pastor who does such things that God will be with them. Ford – That is exactly right. There are great blessings, most of which are spiritual that comes to the faithful man of God. He needs those blessings on this earth, but they are also the kind of things that last through eternity. The people who do not have such a man as their pastor cannot receive the blessings of God’s peace being upon them for following a faithful pastor. CW – So you would say that a man who does not try to be a living example of the Lord Jesus Christ is a false pastor? Ford – At the very least something has happened to that man to move him away from having God’s plan for his life fulfilled. When a man is not concerned about following Christ and is not concerned about the people he ministers to, the people who have him as their pastor are in trouble. CW – So what are some of the things we will see a true pastor doing? Ford – The very first thing he does is get to know his people. That takes time. There are techniques for doing this, and I cannot go into all that here. Like I said earlier it takes about seven years to really know an average congregation. But one of the things a real pastor does to get to know his people is involve himself in the life that they live. That requires visiting them and learning what their concerns are. Some people do not like to be visited because they are afraid their sins will be exposed. People have been caught living in fornication, and even watching pornography when the pastor has come to visit. But that brings up another job of the pastor; confronting sin in the congregation. A pastor who truly loves his people cannot ignore their sin. When it becomes known to him he has to confront it. This brings up another job of the pastor. Counseling. The pastor should be a counselor. Some counseling is given when the parishioner comes to the pastor for advice. At other times counseling is given without it being asked, because the pastor is looking out for their souls relationship with God. Weak church members make for a weak and ineffective church. One of the hardest jobs is being there for people in the crisis of their lives. There are all kinds of crisis situations people have to face. I am not just speaking about when people die. People get married, divorced, lose jobs, buy homes, lose homes, get hurt, all sorts of things that present challenges. The pastor needs to be there when those things happen. Sometimes all people need from the pastor is his friendship and knowledge of his care. But they need to have it. Real pastors are very busy people. They need help from congregants too. If the people in the congregation do not tell the pastor what is going on he might not learn about a need until it is too late. CW – What about when pastors know there is a problem and do nothing about it? Ford – I guess you could call it ministerial cowardice. Sometimes some problems need to be approached like the British Bobbies do trouble. (Bobby is what the Brits call their policemen) A Bobby might see a fight going on down the street, so he casually walks down to where it has gone on. By the time he gets there the two fighters have wore themselves out, so the Bobby either gives them a lecture or makes an arrest. The Bobby has not ignored the problem in the hopes it would go away, but he has timed his interjection into the problem where he can do some good. Other times the pastor needs to take a proactive role. He needs to get in there right away and shed some light on the problem. It might make some people mad for a time, but they will respect his intestinal fortitude (what we call guts). The one thing that is sure is that problems unattended grow. Not a few pastors have allowed problems to grow and reoccur till finally they are out of their pastorate wondering what has happened. A lot of pastors move churches every two or three years on their own account. As soon as the honeymoon period between pastor and church is over they move. This way they do not ever have to face down the problems. They just leave them and let them grow in the church. CW – What about when churches are not growing or there is a turnover in membership? Ford – This is also a sign of a problem. Especially when you see people that once were active in the church become inactive, and even leaving the church, you know there is some sort of problem that needs tending to. That is a pastor’s job. CW – The more you talk the harder you make being a real pastor look. Ford – Being a pastor is both a profession and a calling. We have not even touched on the Scriptural qualifications to be a pastor. But the difficulties of the duty of a pastor is one of the reasons that the Bible’s outline of qualifications should be rigidly adhered to. God did not have Paul, who was an Apostle not a pastor, give the church the requirements to qualify pastors for nothing. CW – A lot of people are challenging Paul’s list of qualifications today. Ford – But I have not heard anything about God changing His mind. The people who seek to reinterpret Paul have had to go so far as to invent a false history and social structure for the Jewish people to try to justify their error. No, the qualifications mean exactly what they say in your King James Bible. CW – I take it that you are not setting on any ordination councils for women then? Ford – It is impossible for a woman to be the husband of one wife and blameless. God had no female pastors in the Old Testament, and He has none in the church. I wrote a book called The Exalted View of Marriage where I addressed that issue. I got my belief through a literal understanding of Scripture. Those who hold such errors have to twist the Word of God. CW – Thank you Dr. Ford. That certainly has been instructive. We all have a bigger picture of the work of a pastor after this broadcast. CW - I want to follow up and give you some information on the subject of the Supreme Court taking away private property rights. We talked about in an earlier broadcast. I refer to the Kelo case, which established the power of government to steal personal property for private gain. The Kelo case came about because the city of New London, Connecticut seized private homes and land for the purpose of private development. The Supreme Court endorsed this theft, and in this confused day and age, that makes it the de-facto law of the land. And now the politicians, who run the organized criminal band known as the City of New London, are charging the victims of this theft "back rent" for daring to continue to occupy their own property during the time when their case wound its way to the Supreme Court. That's right. People who are having their property stolen from them are being charged rent for using their property by the very people who are stealing it from them. It's time to hammer Congress. It's time to demand that they do something to stop legalized theft. It's time to demand that they impose stiff penalties for any government entity that steals private property. An amendment called Downsize DC's enforcement amendment to S. 1313 has been proposed. Send your message to Congress, demanding this action. If we do not stop this the next property taken may be yours.
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