(Original illustrator unknown)
August 11, 2006 [edited]
Pastors According to God's Heart
Pastors are only mentioned once in the New Testament by that name (Eph. 4:11). But even so, what should a pastor be like according the Lord? In Jeremiah He tells us.
Jeremiah 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
Here the Lord is speaking to Israel about what He will do for them in the future when they turn to Him and their land is healed. It seems to be quite clearly the Kingdom that He's talking about. However, we still learn from this verse what a pastor is like who is according to God's heart.
First notice that the pastors will feed. They will not chasten nor chastise them. That is God’s job (Heb. 12). They will not rule them with a rod of iron.
This is not limited to the Kingdom era. Remember Jesus' words to Peter before He returned to heaven. John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Secondly, notice who they will feed. They will feed Israel - in this case believing and saved Israel, the ones who repented and returned to their God. A pastor according to God's giving does not spend all his time feeding goats. Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep and His lambs!
Thirdly, notice with what the pastors will feed the people - knowledge and understanding. Now whether this means they will exercise knowledge and understanding or whether the food is knowledge and understanding, I don't know for sure, but you pretty much can't have one without the other, as the New Testament indicates.
These good pastors will not "preach the gospel" at every meeting. They will not be reminding the people of their sin and guilt at every opportunity. They will give knowledge and understanding to those who hear them.
Knowledge of what? Knowledge of our Lord. (See how many times knowledge is mentioned in Peter’s second epistle – where he was feeding the sheep.)
2Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Understanding of what? Of the will of the Lord. In all things.
Ephesians 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
2Timothy 2:7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Too many pastors today are preoccupied with so many other things - philosophies of man, health diets, psychologically analyzing the sheep, goat ministries ("reaching the lost")*, compelling the sheep to perform certain standards, keeping up with sports, boycotting abortion clinics, supervising the personal lives and resources of the sheep, telling or hearing some new thing (Mars Hill), "fellowshipping" with other pastors, etc. etc. etc.
When you find a pastor who is according to God's heart, you will find him feeding the sheep of the Lord with understanding and knowledge. You will find sheep who are growing in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
*There are men who want to be pastors but who are totally consumed by ministries to the lost while neglecting the feeding of the sheep. They need to do the one or the other – be a pastor or an “evangelist”. Trying to do both often means that the sheep aren’t fed.