The Gift of Shepherding/Pastoring
By Dr. Ray Melugin


The word pastor occurs only once in the New Testament. "...And he gave some...pastors" (Ephesians 4:11) The Greek word for pastor is shepherd. What was a shepherd, and what did he do?


I. Nature of the Shepherding Gift

A. To Guide (Psalm 23)
Note: This Psalm sets before us a pastoral scene of the shepherd and his responsibility, love, and care for the sheep.

1. He gently leads his flock beside still waters to lie down in green pastures.
a. Isaiah wrote of the Messiah-Shepherd. (Isaiah 40:11)
b. Sheep would only drink where water was still and calm.
c. Sheep would only lie down where it was comfortable, not on rocky, rugged ground.

2. Both the rod and staff helped to guide.
a. The rod and staff were one and the same, with one end straight and the other end hooked.
b. Could be used to ward off small and even large animals.
c. Could be used to pull a sheep out of danger.
d. Could be used to clear a pathway through heavy brush, briar, or thorny areas for sheep to follow the shepherd without being hurt.
e. Through the Bible, the rod symbolizes authority. In the millennium Jesus will rule with a rod of iron.

3. The shepherd provided quietness, rest and renewal of strength for his sheep.
Note: With narrow, steep and mountainous pathway ahead, the shepherd would make his sheep lie down, removing the risk of becoming overtired and being in danger of falling. He thus, prepared his sheep for what was ahead.

B. To Graze
1. The main duty of the shepherd was to lead the sheep into fields for grazing.
a. Old Testament shepherds were to "feed you with knowledge and understanding." (Jeremiah 3:15)
b. The coming Messiah "Shall feed His flock like a shepherd." (Isaiah 40:11)

2. The verb form of "pastor" means to provide food.
a. Jesus recommissioned Peter telling him to "Feed my sheep." (John 21:16)
b. Paul exhorted the Ephesian elders "to feed the church of God." (Acts 20:28)
c. Peter addressed the elders to "feed the flock of God which is among you." (1 Peter 5:2)

Note: Shepherds would direct their sheep to the best pastures. He would also gather tasty herbs and morsels with his staff which were beyond the reach of the sheep.

C. To Guard
1. David, while still in his teens, delivered a lamb from the mouth of a lion, and bear. (1 Samuel 17:34-37)
a. A shepherd carried a sling to keep wild animals at a distance, as the sling David used to kill Goliath.
b. A shepherd would sling a rock just beyond a wandering sheep alarming it to turn back for safety.

2. The shepherd would anoint a sheep's head with oil to prevent sunstroke.
Note: Camels have been known to die in the desert sun because their heads had not been rubbed with oil.

3. A genuine shepherd protected his sheep to the point of laying down his own life. (John 10:11-13)
Note: In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd searched untiringly until he found the sheep. (Luke 15:3-7)

4. Paul warned the Ephesian elders of false teachers entering the flock as wolves. (Acts 20:28-31)
Note: As Paul new one pastor could not keep an eye on all the sheep, he wrote to those at Rome "to admonish one another." (Romans 15:14)

Disobedient members of the flock were to be "admonished as a brother" by other members, not the pastor. (2 Thessalonians 3:15; 16:13-15)


II. Exercising The Shepherding Gift

A. You may have the gift of Pastoring without holding the office of pastor.
1. Sunday School teachers, youth workers, have a great opportunity to utilize this gift.

2. Older Christian women can shepherd younger wives in family and domestic situations. (Titus 2:3-5)

3. Bus captains must exercise this gift, and sometimes have the title, bus pastor.

B. The gift of shepherding causes one to think of his people more than himself.
Note: He, or she visits in homes, is constantly available to families for needs, is seeking absentees and those unsaved, shows interest for those in hospitals, comforts families in times in death, etc.

C. Christ, with the title of "Chief Shepherd," infers the existence of undershepherds. (1 Peter 5:4)
1. As undershepherds, they are to help others discover their gifts, and guide them into channels of ministry.

2. Those exercising the gift of shepherding will receive a "crown of glory that fadeth not away" as a reward (1 Peter 5:4)


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