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You Need A Heart of A Shepherd

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This post is adapted from Darrin Patrick's book Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Missionavailable to preorder now.

From CEO to Lead Shepherd

Thankfully, there has been somewhat of a course correction from "pastor as CEO" to pastor as lead shepherd. The call to care and not just lead is getting louder because the books of the Bible, and not just the books of business, are being preached and lived. I don't believe pastors should simply be chaplains for non-missional sheep, but should be lead shepherds who personally shepherd emerging leaders and create systems of care for the church at large.

Sheep Without a Shepherd

Scripture tells us that during his earthly ministry, Jesus had compassion on the crowds that followed him, because they were like “sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). This poignant picture that our Lord uses to describe people in the world should remind us not only of our own vulnerability apart from our Shepherd, but also awaken our compassion and remind us how needy people need pastoral oversight and aid in their spiritual maturity.

Paul challenged the Ephesian elders to be courageous shepherds (Acts 20:28-30), which would result in protection for the sheep. Peter commanded elders to shepherd God's flock with delight and not duty (1 Peter 5:1-3), which would result in eternal reward for the shepherd. These men understood the importance and value of developing the heart of a true shepherd both for the sake of the shepherd and the sheep.

Pastors Must Be Flock-Focused

In both the early church and the ministry of Moses, the reality of growth mitigated that systems of care be developed. The apostles realized they needed a system of care so they could focus on preaching and leadership, so they formed what would eventually become the office of deacon (Acts 6:1-7). Moses was rebuked by his father-in-law for tethering all care and leadership to himself. Jethro then gave Moses instructions about building a system of care. Pastors must be flock-focused by developing leaders who can be sheep-focused

The Scripture is clear that if you are a pastor, you have to shepherd people.

Let's close this with a challenge from a cutting-edge pastor from the 16th century:

    The whole of our ministry must be carried on in tender love to our people. We must let them see that nothing pleaseth us but what profiteth them; and that what doeth them good doeth us good; and that nothing troubleth us more than their hurt. We must feel toward our people, as a father toward his children: yea, the tenderest love of a mother must not surpass ours. We must even travail in birth, till Christ be formed in them (Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor).

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Darrin Patrick is the lead pastor of The Journey, a church in St. Louis, and the Vice President of Acts 29, a global church planting network. He also serves as the chaplain to the St. Louis Cardinals. Darrin is the author of The Dude’s Guide to ManhoodChurch Planter, co-author of For the Cityand contributor to the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible and Don't Call It A Comeback. His next book, Replant, is set to release in May 2014.