Are You a Pastor?

It’s time to reframe our idea of what it means to be a pastor

Are You a Pastor?

I am not a trained minister, an educated member of the clergy, or a professional pastor. These titles all unnerve me. I am not a pastor, at least not in the traditional sense.

About a decade ago a woman left me completely flustered when, full of sincerity, she asked, “Are you a pastor?”

I gasped and then suppressed a laugh. “Oh, no!” I assured her. “I am definitely not a pastor.”

She cocked her head and eyed me quizzically. “Well you certainly seem like one.”

My initial thought was offense. Despite having many pastors who are friends, I apparently didn’t hold the profession in high regard. However, I suspect her words were given as a compliment, even though they freaked me out. Later I shook my head in disbelief and in a vain attempt to dislodge the memory from my mind.

But this wasn’t the only time someone asked me this question, merely the first. The second time, despite being caught off guard again, I believe I responded a bit more graciously. This surprising question has been repeated over the years that followed and again resurfaced this past week..

I hope people ask this because they sense something positive in me, such as a caring spirit, a gentleness that transcends self, or the love of Jesus oozing out. If so, the question “Are you a pastor?” is a tribute to God’s work in my life, even though my answer remains an emphatic, “No.”

Many people consider a pastor as synonymous with minister or preacher. I do not. I prefer to think of a pastor as a shepherd, as one who follows the example of the Great Shepherd. The pastor as shepherd is one who cares for his or her flock. Simply put, a pastor cares for others. This care comes through both prayer and through action.

In this respect, we are all called to be pastors, or as Peter writes, we are priests (1 Peter 2:5). As followers of Jesus we are tasked with caring for one another. I care for you and you care for me. We should not wait for the paid clergy to do this. We should act before they get a chance. This makes us pastors.

Yes, I am a pastor – and so are you.

When was someone a pastor to you? How can you be a pastor to others? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

[This is from Peter DeHaan‘s April newsletter, “Spiritually Speaking.”  Receive the complete newsletter each month.]

Book Review: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

By Phillip Keller (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

The idea of a shepherd overseeing his flock is a powerful metaphor of the relationship between God and his people. Unfortunately, today’s world has largely lost touch with its agrarian roots, missing much of the deeper meaning of a shepherd’s watch and care over his flock.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 takes an interesting and insightful look at the 23rd Psalm from the perspective of a shepherd, who is also the author. By learning how a good shepherd protects, cares, and provides for his sheep, we can gain a better understanding into how our Good Shepherd cares for us, his sheep.

Furthermore, as we learn about the sacrifices Keller made for his sheep and the ways in which they benefited — generally oblivious to his loving efforts — we gain insight into God’s sacrifices for us to keep us safe from enemies, healthy from maladies, and content in our existence. Sometimes, though, sheep thwart the shepherd’s efforts; in this regard, Keller again shares from his experience, in which we see the loving patience of the Good Shepherd emerge.

Reading this book will appreciably change the way you read Psalm 23.

[A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller. Published by Zondervan, 2007, ISBN: 978-0310274414, 176 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

God is the Shepherd

In the fourth word picture for God, we consider the common image of God as the good shepherd and we as his sheep.

God, as the good shepherd, is caring, protective, patient, brave, wise, sacrificial, and most significantly, knows us by name.

Sheep, are known as being not too intelligent, easily getting into trouble and frequently needing to be rescued, but they do know the voice of the shepherd, usually going to him when he calls.

(See A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 for a more in-depth and insightful consideration of this word picture.)

[Psalm 119:176, Isaiah 53:6, Ezekiel 34:11, Matthew 9:36, John 10:3, John 10:15, John 10:27, 1 Peter 2:25]