_ (Originally written on February 12, 2010)
A woman recently told me that after listening to another preacher talk about the role of a pastor, she realized an area where I was falling short. She said that he talked about the need for a pastor to pump his people up--or something along those lines, as she couldn't remember exactly how he put it--but that was how she put it. She told me that I was good at instructing and comforting, but not good at pumping them up. I told her that I do not focus on being a "pumper-upper" because I do not find that in Scripture.
In Scripture, there are three distinct Greek terms used interchangeably in regards to the leadership position we traditionally call "pastor" (I will give their English equivalents): "shepherd" (emphasizing leadership in spiritual provision of nourishment and protection against predators and where we get the term "pastor"); "overseer" (emphasizing leadership in management of operations and procedures); and "elder" (the actual title of the position emphasizing a leader who is spiritually mature and stable as a visible, though imperfect, example of everything he preaches and teaches, while the other two terms emphasize his function). The Apostle Peter used all three designations in one passage:
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1–4)
Being a pastor by those standards requires in-the-trench ministry, where a pastor helps his people spiritually develop from the inside out and live out who they are in Christ individually and congregationally. He must go way beyond giving his people an emotional surge.
We as a society in general are addicted to the pump. We are pump junkies always looking for the next high. Some of us like vein-popping pumps while others do just fine with a slight increase in heart rate, but the addiction is the same. We want a good time all the time, and when it comes to following Jesus, that just won't work.
Too many people want the event of God rather than God Himself. They want the effect of God from the outside in, rather than His effect on them from the inside out. They go to God to know what kind of experiences He can give them, rather than to know Him. They delight in God's pizazz, rather than in God's Person. This is a subtle, yet, spiritually deadly idolatry that has cancerized the church in America today. This is the reason so many people are putting their pastors under so much pressure to be little more than back-patting coaches, or worse, side-life cheerleaders.
My primary responsibility as a pastor is to turn my flock's attention to our Father and His will and to help them grow in it and live it out in loving worship of Him. Let's turn to the height, breadth, and depth of God Himself. He won't disappoint us.