Most of us have ideas about what it means to be a pastor. Even if you’re not a pastor, you probably have some idea about what it means to be a pastor. But not so many have thought about what it means to be a sheep of a pastor. As a pastor who has a pastor, I am both shepherd and sheep. As a shepherd/sheep, I have to both lead a flock and follow a pastor.
It may sound confusing, but doing it is really not complicated. I just give my pastor what I expect of my sheep. My pastor, Charles Simpson, taught me that anyone who exercises more authority
than he is submitted to is an autocrat. If I expect to exercise pastoral authority, I have to submit to pastoral authority. If I expect my sheep to feed on the words God gives me for them then I have to feed on the words God gives my pastor for me. And if I expect my people to be accountable to me, I have to be accountable to my pastor.
My pastor also taught me that you can teach whatever you like but you can only reproduce who you are. Pastors who have rebellious sheep who won’t listen and aren’t accountable may be reproducing like kind. Bless your heart.
If the pastor’s heart is not right, it will reproduce sheep with bad hearts. This is why pastors need pastors. Pastors need tending and feeding like every other sheep, and pastors need accountability.
It’s not hard to find a pastor who belongs to an organization that exists to provide accountability. As well-intentioned as those organizations are, I’m not convinced they work. If hierarchy could provide accountability, the Catholic Church would never have had a moral crisis with its priests.
My pastor taught me that accountability goes to fathers and friends. Accountability is personal. Fathers know when their kids are in trouble. Friends can tell that look in your eyes when you’re not being honest. I believe in this kind of accountability. That’s why I have a pastor, just one not a presbytery of them. No group of ministers can provide accountability like a pastor who fathers you or connects to you as a friend.
I would never try to pastor a church without personally having a pastor. For a pastor to have a pastor shapes the character of the flock. I honor my pastor and my sheep honor me. I listen to my pastor and my sheep listen to me. I get from my sheep what I give to my pastor and the same is true of you. It is a principle of discipleship: “When the disciple is fully trained he will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
Do you want to pastor sheep like you? If you want better sheep to pastor become a better sheep of your pastor.