Pastors Encourage Us in Our Walk with Christ
The second reason we need pastors is that they are given to help us in our Christian walk. In The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan gives a picture of the Christian life as a journey to the Celestial City. During Christian’s journey, he has several companions—some good (Faithful and Hopeful), others not so good (Talkative). His good companions encourage him along the way, keeping Christian moving forward and on the road to the Celestial City. This is a good picture of the role of a pastor in the lives of God’s people. One example of this in the Bible is Tychicus, who is described by Paul as a “beloved brother and faithful minister” (Eph. 6:21). Paul sent Tychicus to the church in Ephesus and the church in Colossae for exactly this reason: to “encourage your hearts” (Eph. 6:22; Col. 4:8). Paul knew that believers need more than to be taught the Word of truth; they need to be reminded that the Lord loves them and has provided for them. In this sense, pastors are a gift from Jesus to His people (Eph. 4:8–11). They are a tangible reminder of Jesus’ care for us in a world that is marred by sin. Does it encourage you when your pastor calls you to learn more about what is happening in your life? Are you comforted to know that your pastor is praying for you, your family, and your particular needs? Just as Paul reminded each of the churches to which he wrote that he was remembering them (Phil. 1:3), never ceasing to pray for them (Col. 1:9), and thanking the Lord that their faith was growing (2 Thess. 1:3), so the calling of a pastor is to walk alongside God’s people and lift their eyes to Christ. I often tell my own congregation that the main job of a pastor is to remind them of God’s truth and promises that they already know.
Pastors Equip Us to Do the Work of Ministry
The final reason we need pastors is so that we may be trained and prepared to do the work of ministry, building up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). It is far too often the mind-set of Christians that pastors are the “professional” Christians; that is, the ones who must do all the work of ministry in the local church and community. After all, this mentality asserts, “I don’t know nearly as much about the Bible as my pastor.” The most extreme approach seeks out the pastor to pray not just for me but instead of me, because he is “so much closer to God.” The Bible is clear that all Christians are to be involved in the ministry of the kingdom of God, and that in the broadest sense we are “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) who are to “let [our] light shine before others, so that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). The equipping of all Christians to be involved in ministry is no accident or even a pragmatic response to a pressing need. It is the design of Jesus Christ for His church. In Ephesians 4, the central passage about the gifts that Christ gives to the church, Paul writes that Christ has given shepherds (pastors) “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). If we think about this, it makes perfect sense in connection with the first two reasons why we need pastors—pastors bring us God’s Word so that we might grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ, and they encourage us in our walk with Christ so that we see the work Christ has placed before us.
Pastors are an important part of the church of Jesus Christ, not because they are the only ones connected to the Lord and able to do all the work of ministry, but because they are a gift from Jesus to equip His people to grow in their knowledge of God and in their usefulness in His Kingdom. Thank the Lord for your pastor.
Editor’s Note: This post was first published on December 26, 2018.