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Pastoral Calling: What, Who, How and When

pastoral calling

The only way for a pastor to avoid the many distractions of life and to remain steadfast throughout his life and ministry is to know what God has truly called the pastor to do. The pastoral calling is not to run programs for the masses. The pastoral calling is not to do whatever is necessary to please everyone in his church. God’s calling for the pastor is different and clearly outlined in God’s Word. The Apostle Peter exhorts elders/pastors (same office) to one undeniable task:

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:2-4)

Peter’s exhortation to pastors can be summarized in this way, “Be shepherds of God’s flock under your care until the Chief Shepherd appears.” Peter is quite clear of the what, who, how and when of the pastor’s true biblical pastoral calling:

What: Be shepherds of God’s flock.

Who: The flock that is under your care.

How: Not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

When: Until the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, returns for his flock placed in your care.

The true biblical pastoral calling is to shepherd the souls of God’s people humbly, willingly, eagerly and on behalf of the Chief Shepherd. This was the calling for those leading the local church in Peter’s day, and it is the same calling for the busy pastors of the 21st century. 

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braincroft@churchleaders.com'
Brian Croft is senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also the author of "Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness (foreword by Mark Dever) and "Test, Train, Affirm, and Send Into Ministry: Recovering the Local Church’s Responsibility to the External Call" (foreword by R. Albert Mohler Jr.). Brian blogs regularly at Practical Shepherding.