Tuesday, November 21, 2006


by Keith Giles

What does it mean to be a Pastor?

Well, honestly, it's about helping people to follow Jesus. The truth is, it's a lot harder than you think.

Most of us, when we think of the word "Pastor" get a mental image of a guy in a suit who stands up on the big stage each Sunday and gives a long, power-pointed speech right after the offering plate is passed. That is not what pastoring is about at all.

In fact, guess how many times the word "Pastor" appears in the Bible....go ahead, guess.

Once. That's it.

(Bonus points if you can tell me what book, chapter and verse)

Yet, we've made the office of "Pastor" the single most important position within the Body of Christ. Yes, it is a very important, and difficult office to work at effectively. However, our mental pictures are way off base. We picture a CEO in a power tie, but the Scriptures suggest a simple man who knows how to wash feet.

The word "Minister" implies one who serves, and yet in our society we've made the position into a professional office where all authority and power, prestige and wisdom flow down from on high.

Jesus modelled something so much greater for us when he put on the robes of a slave and knelt down to wash the feet of his disciples. He served them. The scriptures say that, He expressed the "fullness of his love" to them in this simple act of service and humility.

What's more, when he was finished he sat down and asked them, "Do you know what I have done for you?" He wanted them to understand the importance of serving one another, not "Lording it over" their subjects as the Pharisees were known to do.

If we're honest, most of what passes for Pastoral leadership today looks a whole lot more like the "Lording it over" process modelled by the Pharisees than it does like the "putting on the robe of a servant" like Jesus.

Honestly, the office of Pastor is one gifted to a person by the Holy Spirit. He is the One who calls people and then gives them the spiritual gift of pastor. This means that you could go to seminary and get a degree, but still not have the spiritual gift of "pastor".

It also means you could be a twelve year old girl and have a greater spiritual gift to pastor than the guy who is standing behind the pulpit in the suit and tie with the seminary degree on the wall.

My experience as a pastor has involved a lot of private meetings with people where I have to perform the un-rewarding task of helping people to repent for things, or to help them understand pain, or to speak truth to them even though I know that they will probably hate me for it when I am done.

This is what it means to be a pastor. It means to serve, to minister to others, to shepherd people, and to love them so much that you're willing to do what's best for them, even if it kills you.

So...who wants to be a pastor?



Joy said...


In light of the discussions going on in cyber-land... THIS was timely!

I got the image of a shepherd out in the dark of night, climbing through the brambles to pull out on stupid, stinking, dirty sheep!

How many pastors are doing that??


Girl in the Globe said...

Hi Keith,
This is a really really good article. I'm one of those people who keeps coming up "pastor" on the spiritual gifts things...I had a hard time with that until I was able to seperate "the guy who preaches" from pastor. Once I was able to embrace the pastor part of me...I really really like it. Not easy, but definately rewarding.

Brent said...

Hi Kieth,

I'm not so sure there is such a thing as an "office" of the pastor. I've been taught that, and I've taught others that, but I think its part of the whole hierarchical power structure that we humans have superimposed on Christ’s church. Biblically speaking, we are not placed into the office of pastor, teacher, prophet, evangelist or apostle. Rather, Christ gifts us and calls us to BE a pastor, teacher, prophet, evangelist or apostle. He transforms us into a pastor and gives us as a gift to the church. We minister because that is what we are, what Jesus made us to be. We have influence within the body of Christ inasmuch as Christ’s Spirit is ministering through us. Our influence does not come from our position, but by the power and love of the Holy Spirit working through us.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
Ehp 4:11 (NKJ)

God bless,


Gary Means said...

Excellent post, Keith.

It's interesting how many believers are rejecting the pastor-centric Sunday morning event. The options available to them continue to increase. But there definitely is a revolution underway.

joy, I'm new to this blog. To which cyberland discussions are you referring?

BTW, Keith, I posted your Warning to the church on my blog. I hope you don't mind. I did clearly credit you.

Keith Giles said...

Joy- Thanks for being such an encouragement to me!

Globe-Girl- Your respoonse to this made my day. If nothing else, this article was for you. Peace.

Brent- You and I have talked about this already. Good to hear your comments. Miss ya, dude. Don't be a stranger.

Gary- Thank you for the honor of re-posting my article, and then for the extra courtesy to actually tell me about it here. You've no idea how many times I've seen my stuff posted without permission, and/or posted without credit. Thanks for spreading the love.


joecrunk said...

I am here because of what I read on your bill in congress on another site.The non profit church.I thought that was great.It really hit home.This article on being a pastor is so cool.I am guilty,I think spiffy suit and tie,and yawning alot when I think of pastor.I am glad to know Jesus Christ is alot more in my life then a suit and tie.Keep up the good work.