My wife, Michelle, and I recently enjoyed an evening with the church family of Hunsinger Lane Baptist Church in Louisville as it celebrated the 20th anniversary of Pastor Charlie Davis’ ministry among them. We were delighted to see a church express such deep appreciation for the ministry of her pastor. The following day, I stopped by Simpsonville Baptist Church to witness a similar event as Pastor Steve Boyd marks 20 years of ministry to his congregation. The relationship shared between a church who loves her pastor and a pastor who loves his church can be one of the greatest spiritual blessings in life.
Unfortunately, such relationships aren’t as common as we would like. Mike and Kari MacKenzie, who specialize in counseling Christian leaders, observe that pastors often feel more isolated than loved, and note that, specifically, a lack of support, close friends, and accountability often contribute to a painful end for churches and their pastors. For the good of your church and the Kingdom, find ways to express your love and appreciation for your pastor.
In his book, Shepherds after My Own Heart, Timothy Laniak traces the biblical metaphor of the pastor as shepherd. Early in the book, Laniak appeals to God’s pledge in Jeremiah 3:15 to replace the corrupt leaders of His people: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”
Laniak explains that God, the Shepherd of His people, is promising to provide under-shepherds who have the “capacity to care for God’s flock with self-sacrificing diligence and compassion. It is not just ‘heart’, however, but ‘after my own heart’ that matters. A good shepherd is one who sees what the Owner sees and does what the Owner does. He is a follower before he is a leader. He is a leader because he is a follower” (page 22).
Eighteen years as a pastor taught me the necessity of understanding my calling in light of biblical revelation. Scripture reveals God as the Shepherd of His people. Scripture also reveals God’s care as flowing through the under-shepherds He has called. Moreover, Scripture unequivocally mandates that the under-shepherds exhibit, to the best of their grace-given ability, godly qualities and character as they minister to God’s people. Love, grace, patience, integrity, selflessness, clarity, conviction, truthfulness, servanthood, and humility are a few of the many descriptive words that come to mind when I think about an authentic pastor.
My prayer is that our pastors, as they seek to model their lives and their shepherding ministry after the character and ministry of the Good Shepherd, will find the love and support they need from their congregation. And I pray God will continue to bless the churches of the Kentucky Baptist Convention with shepherds after his own heart.