The Radical Calling of Pastors

By Pastor Mark Tanious

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Acts 20:28

The calling of an overseer (pastor) is a serious and weighty calling. Paul Tripp, a pastor and biblical counselor, calls it a dangerous calling. Is this hyperbolic language? How can that be true when many people think pastors only work one day a week?

God Calls Overseers

The truth is, the calling of a pastor is weighty, in part, because God himself does the calling. Notice our fighter verse says that it’s the Holy Spirit who has made them overseers of God’s church. When someone who has great authority calls you to do something, the weightiness of that thing increases because of their authority.

Calling the Unqualified

Jesus calls ordinary men to shepherd his flock. From one perspective, this makes absolutely no sense. How can men who are broken themselves care for other broken sheep? Paul gives us a clue when he wrote, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). God uses unqualified, undeserving men to lead his church to show his power and grace. Our wise God knows what he is doing. And in his sovereign plan, God uses imperfect men to lead his church in order to shine the light of the gospel more clearly.

Loving His Church

And make no mistake, God’s calling of overseers in the church is an act of love. The church is the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, and the family of God. God loves the church so deeply that he obtained it with his own blood. The greater the cost, the greater the value. That means nothing is more valuable to Jesus than the church, his bride. If God were willing to go to that length to demonstrate his unfailing love, wouldn’t it make sense that every other decision he makes about the church would be a reflection of that love?

Shepherding the Shepherds

If all this is true, then it only makes sense that God’s church learn to trust and follow their overseers. In spite of their flaws, in spite of previous wounds, in spite of the fears. To trust the leadership of shepherds and overseers is really to trust the leadership of Jesus himself, the Chief Shepherd and Overseer of your soul (1 Peter 2:25).

Let me suggest a few ways you can care for (shepherd) your shepherds:

1. Pray for them

The needs are great. The burdens are overwhelming. There are no set hours. They are on call 24/7. They have families of their own to shepherd as well. Pray that God grants them the grace to shepherd all those under their care. One of the greatest blessings of serving at my church is the knowledge that so many church members are praying for me and my family. This is one of the greatest ways my church family cares for me.

2. Follow them

This one may be hard for some. Submitting to authority is not popular in our society. But, in God’s church, leadership is not given authority to rule over others, but to serve others (Matthew 20:25-28). Overseers are called to make decision, cast vision, preach God’s Word, set an example for the flock, govern the church. The Bible actually makes the case that when a church makes it hard for pastors to lead with joy it’s actually the church itself that suffers most (Hebrews 13:17).   

3. Love them

Express your appreciation to your pastors. Forgive them when they make mistakes. Show them love in tangible ways. Make sure their family is provided for. Give them time off. If possible, let them go to a pastors’ conference to get refreshed. Again, I want to brag on my church for the incredible ways they do this for the pastors. I have not been loved by a group of people more sincerely and generously than I have at Grace. I am humbled by the ways my church family cares for me. It is a priceless gift.