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Missions 101

What Does it Mean to Have a Pastor’s Heart? (Part 5)

Sep. 5, 2012By: Evan Burns

As mentioned in previous posts in this series, these are some (not exhaustive) godly qualities for which all shepherds under the Chief Shepherd ought to strive: 

Prayerfulness.  The Son of God Himself is the greatest example of prayer in the Bible.  Apparently His prayer life was so influential and inspiring that His followers asked Him to teach them how to pray (Lk 11:1).  This is the only instance where Jesus’ followers asked Him to teach them something.  Of all the things they could have asked Him to teach them, they asked about prayer.  This speaks volumes to the role of prayer in forming and driving the heart of the pastor and in his ability to influence people.  Prayer is the most powerful weapon in the pastor’s arsenal.  Through it he draws near to God in humility, gains fresh vision, is made courageous, and lays hold of the promises of the Bible by faith.  When a pastor is prayerful, he demonstrates to the flock that his vision is bigger than he, that he is on a holy mission, and that his heart is seeking to lead in a way that is supernatural.  One of the greatest moves a pastor can make is to inspire the hearts of his people to pray.

Ability to Teach.  There is a big difference between desiring to teach and being able to teach (1 Tim 1:7; 3:2).  Availability does not equal ability.  He must be competent and able to teach (2 Tim 2:15).  The Bible identifies spiritual leaders as those who teach the Word (Heb 13:7).  Those unable to teach the Scriptures are not qualified to be church leaders, specifically elders.  This is the one skill demanded of the pastor that is not character-related (1 Tim 3:1-13).  It does not mean the pastor must be gifted to teach, but a pastor’s heart must be competent and able to teach.  Moreover, there is a huge difference between a pastor teaching from his mind and teaching from his heart.  It takes no virtue or spiritual maturity to teach from the mind; many well-educated teachers simply transfer information from their heads.  But, what sets apart a true pastor’s heart in teaching is Bible-saturation, enflamed by the fire of God.  The heart of a pastor is able to teach in the spirit and truth of the heart of God.

Learner’s Heart.  The pastor’s heart must be theologically-oriented, since his leadership in the Kingdom of God is like that of a prophet, priest, and king.  Due to the nature of spiritual leadership, the pastor’s heart must be that of a lifelong learner—one who listens to others, reevaluates his opinions, and studies and holds firm to the doctrines of the faith in order to be alert and guard the deposit entrusted to him (1 Tim 4:6-16; Acts 6:4).  The pastor’s heart must have a theological gravitational pull that draws all aspects of life back to God’s glory (1 Cor 10:31).  This prevents him from being jarred by unexpected situations and new doctrinal trends.  In order to make wise decisions, the pastor must value learning and be teachable.  Furthermore, part of having a teachable heart is being open and humble to receive correction, challenge, and rebuke.

Passion.  There needs to be a spiritual energy and urgency in the heart of a pastor.  The Bible says spiritual leaders should lead with zeal; “Never lag in zeal, boil in the Spirit!” (Rom 12:11).  In order to implement change, urgency of heart is required.  A pastor on fire will inspire. 

Strength and Meekness.  One of the most attractive and glorious characteristics of the heart of the Chief Shepherd is seen in the union of His divine mercy and might.  He is called a Lamb and a Lion.  He perfectly embodies meekness and majesty; sweetness and seriousness; joy and sorrow; sympathy and severity; absolute humility and absolute sovereignty.  He speaks with the authority of the Ancient of Days; He speaks with the gentleness of a compassionate father.  Kings fall to the ground and shut their mouths when He speaks; children laugh and run to Him when He speaks.  The heart of a shepherd must characterize Christ’s lion-heartedness and lamb-likeness.  He must have the theological tenacity of a soldier, contending for the rich contours and hard edges of gospel doctrine, and he must equally radiate the gentleness of an elderly wise man, patiently loving people as one who has long-suffered and endured years of tribulation and pain.  The heart of a pastor must be as strong as a wild river and as meek as softly falling snow.

 

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