What is a pastor?
I believe that pastors become pastors in response to a direct call from God. A man should never enter into such work fueled by his own desire or ambition. Eph 4:11 "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers" The pastor is a man of God, a man who has been specifically called into ministry. He is charged with feeding, counseling and fortifying the body of believers for the work of God. He must be a motivator, persuading people to embrace the truth of God's word and teaching them to share that truth with others.
The primary calling of every pastor is to preach and teach the word of God. 1 Tim. 3:2 "Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach," The majority of a pastor's time should be in preparation for sharing the truth of God's word. This is his most important duty. This primary duty is often overshadowed by the need to be a counselor, an administrator, a great people person, etc.
The disciples were taught in Acts 6:2-4 "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." (NASB). The apostles were being asked to tend to some administrative duties…to care for some poor widows. What nobler thing can a Christian do than that? But they quickly delegated this responsibility to other qualified elders because their calling and greatest expression of love was to preach and teach the word of God. To do this well requires a phenomenal amount of time and preparation but they embraced this whole heartedly. "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching." The effective pastor must make teaching and preaching his major priority.
Jesus is our greatest pastoral example. Mark 9:35 "Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness." His ministry was three-fold: He preached and taught the word of God, he proclaimed the gospel through prayer, counseling and visitation and he ministered to those in need of physical, spiritual and emotional healing.
A pastor is to be a model of holy living. He can't expect to lead others if he isn't mature in the faith. He is to be the jealous guardian of truth. He must be on the look out for the "doctrines of demons" and for the invasion and infiltration of wolves in sheep's clothing. He must administer and govern the local church and tend to the unpleasant task of church discipline. He is to train and equip others to share the gospel of Christ through evangelism.
It must be kept in mind that the pastor is not an angel, nor is he Christ incarnate, he is but a simple man bound by infirmities and short comings just like any other man. Paul often reminded himself and others of his own limitations: "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." and "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief .“—I Tim. 1:15. In some mysterious way, God seems to pick the lesser to sometimes teach the greater…"But God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise…" - 1 Cor. 1:27.
A pastor called to shepherd a flock is always called. He will never cease to be a pastor unless he disqualifies himself by voluntarily removing himself from ministry or by participating in an act of immorality. Should this happen he must resign or step down for it is futile for the blind to lead the blind.
The lay people of the church should pray daily for their shepherd. Only by prayer will he have the mind of Christ and understand biblical truth. He will need extra strength and stamina to tend to all of his administrative and spiritual duties and to fight the spiritual warfare necessary to contend for souls under his care. It is only with divine help that he can maintain a pure thought life, a passion for preaching and a strong compassion for the souls of his people.