Humble, kind, righteous, empathetic, diligent — all these are adjectives, words that describe the ideal pastor. Because of their important role as the shepherd to the flock, a lot is expected of pastors.
They need to be the epitome of a true Christian. More than other members of the church, they need to show the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Here are some words to describe the work, calling, role and character of a pastor.
What You'll Learn Today
Let’s start with the word that best describes a pastor – shepherd. That’s the actual latin meaning of the word pastor.
The Bible itself uses the term ‘shepherd’ several times to describe church leaders.
In John 21, Jesus tells Peter repeatedly to feed his sheep, essentially appointing him to be shepherd or pastor over the early church.
And here’s how God describes the role of a shepherd through the prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 3:15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
The apostle James describes it perfectly in James 3:1.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
Because a pastor stands in the spotlight with everyone looking up to them, they have to be above reproach in every way. There can be no doubt about their character.
Here’s what is required of teachers and overseers according to Timothy.
Timothy 3:2-3 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
Being a pastor is one of the most demanding callings. You have to give up a lot of your own time, money, opportunities and even pleasure to serve the Church.
There are many pastors who get into the ministry for selfish gains, usually money. But a true shepherd is selfless, kind and puts the flock above all else.
1 Peter 5:2-3 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.
Pastors are also called to be teachers. They have the responsibility of teaching the word of God to both believers and unbelievers.
As with any good teacher, pastors are supposed to teach with kindness, wisdom, patience, love and understanding.
If you read the gospels, Jesus, who is the chief shepherd, is the perfect example of a teacher. Through sermons and parables and with great wisdom and knowledge, he delivered teachings to crowds, individuals and his disciples.
Diligent and Alert
When sheep are out grazing, they are constantly under threat of attack from wolves and other predators.
The same is true for the flock of believers over which a pastor is in charge of. There are constant dangers and threats from all directions.
If a pastor is not careful, the devil can pick off the flock one by one, leading believers into sin and away from the fellowship.
This is why Paul warns church leaders that they must be diligent in their work and stay alert.
Acts 20:29-31 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock…Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
As the shepherd to the flock, the pastor has to deeply understand what his sheep are going through. Empathy breeds kindness and love.
Even when the pastor has to admonish someone, being empathetic helps them do it lovingly.
Empathy is also crucial when a pastor is counseling, guiding or advising members of the church.
Being a pastor doesn’t mean that one is greater than others. Instead, it’s a calling to become a servant.
Serving others requires a lot of humility, something that’s not always present in some pastors. Instead of being servants to their flock, they become the stars of the church with everyone serving them.
Here’s what Jesus said to the apostles when they grumbled about who among them was the greatest.
Luke 22:26 …let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.
Jesus says he himself came to serve.
Often, people confuse authoritativeness with being mean, strict or cruel. That’s not the case at all.
An authoritative pastor is one who is firm in his teachings and admonitions, reliable, trustworthy, authentic, confident and dependable.
Unlike what we often see from some church and political leaders, authority and humility should go hand in hand.
Fruits of The Holy Spirit
Many of the words that describe a pastor are also the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Here they are in Galatians 5:22.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
All of us as believers should exhibit these fruits, but pastors should bear them even more prominently for the benefit of the church.
Beyond the fruits of the Holy Spirit, there are plenty more words to describe pastors including wise, faithful, prayerful, honorable, accountable, compassionate and many more.