September 18, 2016
If you asked someone where they worked and they said, “I am a preacher,” would it be the same thing if they said, “I am a pastor?”
So, how does the word Pastor differ from the word Preacher or Evangelist?
This is interesting because I think of two different, but similar, roles for a pastor and that of a preacher. In my mind, a pastor is someone who cares for the people of his flock. He ministers to their needs, he visits them in the hospital, and he counsels them in times of trials. He is the one you call to marry you, or to officiate a funeral. When your spirit is discouraged and down, it is a pastor that you want to comfort you. It takes a person with a humble spirit and a caring heart to be a pastor. They are often soft-spoken, gentle souls. They must also have incredible, Holy Spirit provided, strength of faith to see a constant barrage of the dark events in people’s lives, because nobody calls the pastor when things are going good. They have a heart to edify, or to build spiritually, the members of their flock, but they are constantly discouraged by the seemingly endless spiritual immaturity of those same members. This is often the reason a pastor will suffer burnout. They face difficult challenges on every side and, therefore, it is their dependence on the Holy Spirit that is key to their ability to continue and be successful.
A preacher, on the other hand, is a fire and brimstone speaker, who can draw people to the foot of the cross with his evangelistic sermons. He can invigorate the soul and put fire in the spirit of his congregation with the preaching of the Word of God. He opens the door for the Holy Spirit of God to enter the heart of a person by his anointed and spirit led sermons. It takes a certain level of self-confidence in order to speak effectively in front of large crowds, yet that confidence must be balanced by a dependence on the Holy Spirit to provide the strength and words that are spoken. It takes a powerful speaking voice to command the attention of people for long periods of time, yet they must be able to make a connection with the people they are speaking to. Often, it seems they are speaking directly to you with their message.
It would appear that these two roles are very different, requiring different types of people. In fact, it is difficult to find a person who is successful at both, yet this is often what we expect out of the person who is chosen to lead our churches. They must be on call 24 hours a day to rush to our sides with the right words in times of need, and then entertain, educate, and inspire us on Sunday mornings. They are held to an impossibly high moral and ethical standard, even though the Bible tells us that we all must meet that same standard. They must deal with pettiness, jealousy, territoriality, spiritual laziness, dark sin, backbiting, and busybodies within the membership, and they must do so with the diplomacy skills of a nation’s ambassador. They are to have the power of a spiritual warrior and the gentle soul of a comforter. Sounds pretty easy, right?
These men are truly special. They are called of God to do a very difficult task and they need our prayers every day. They face spiritual warfare that most of us will never see or experience because they are called to lead God’s people. Listen to this podcast to learn Peter’s rules for being a shepherd of God’s flock.