Six Responsibilities of a Pastor

by Dr. David Sampson on September 17, 2020

The role of a pastor is filled with challenge and commitment. It requires a lifetime pursuit of development in loving, learning, and leaning on the Lord. Most congregations believe, as one commentator humorously and facetiously stated—“[P]astors are supposed to lead and challenge people, with visionary preaching and careful administration, into uncharted wildernesses to discover new promised lands, flowing with milk and honey.”[1] If a pastor is to even come close to reaching this expectation, a proper biblical understanding of pastoral ministry is critical. There are shepherding and administrative roles the pastor is responsible to perform in relation to ministry. However, for the purpose of this article, I will examine six biblical responsibilities of a pastor.

  1. The Pastor’s Personality.

Dr. W. A. Criswell (1909-2002) said: “The first and foremost of all the inward strengths of a pastor is the conviction, deep as life itself, that God has called him to ministry.”[2] A man cannot pastor by means of his own giftedness, he must be called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to pastor God’s people (Ephesians 4:11-12). The pastor’s ministry rises or falls on the integrity of his godly example (I Timothy 4:12). He can easily destroy what he says with his lips when his life is not true to Scripture. Therefore, yielding, and living in the power of the Holy Spirit, is necessary for pastoral service. The character of the man is just as important as the content of the message (Titus 1:6-8). His personality is to reflect a herald who warns the people of impending spiritual danger. He resembles a shepherd who lovingly protects his flock. He is comparable to a lighthouse directing travelers on the stormy seas of life. Above all, he is the messenger of the Lord who expounds on the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Christ’s redeeming love.

  1. The Pastor’s Proclamation.

According to II Timothy 4:2, the pastor is to: Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”[3] The pastor is called to the ministry of proclamation. He is to make known the glory of Christ’s redeeming story of love and forgiveness. Paul contends the preacher’s proclamation is essential to evangelism—“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14.) The pastor is to preach the Word, not his personal agenda, popular philosophy, or worldly ambitions. He is to hold forth the truth (Philippians 2:16) and be ready to deliver God’s message of salvation in all seasons of life.   

  1. The Pastor’s Protection.

The pastor’s protection is depicted by the term shepherd. One writer explains the imagery of a pastor/shepherd stating: “The figure of a shepherd is used in Scripture to represent Christ as caring for, feeding, and protecting those who belong to Him (Jn. 10:7); shepherding is the spiritual gift used to care for those in the Body of Christ; Eph. 4:11; 1 Pet. 5:1–4.”[4] The pastor/shepherd is to protect against dangers, division, dissension, and distortion of God’s Word. He is to guard and guide the flock of God as he feeds them the Word of God for spiritual health and growth (Acts 20:28 and I Peter 5:2). Sheep will flourish when led to good pastures. Likewise, the people of God will spiritually prosper when led and fed from the rich, vibrant soils of God’s Word.  

  1. The Pastor’s Purity.

Paul reminded Timothy of his spiritual calling to be an example—“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Dr. John MacArthur warns against the lack of purity in pastoral leadership by stating the following: “All battles for the integrity of Scripture are ultimately in vain if the church’s preachers are corrupt and the sheep no longer follow their shepherds as models of holiness. The church must have leaders who are above reproach. Anything less is an abomination to God and spells disaster for the life of the church.”[5] We have heard the horrific stories of God’s men falling to the power of temptation. The pastor’s fall will have an impact on every facet of his environment. Yielding to the Spirit in prayer, hiding the Word in his heart, maintaining strengthening relationships, and placing boundaries around his ministry, is essential in the development of the pastor’s purity.

  1. The Pastor’s Passion

I have often heard pastor’s jokingly state, “I would love pastoring if it were not for the people.” This statement may bring a chuckle; however, it is not correct. If the pastor is not in the ministry to equip, encourage, and evangelize, he must find something else to do with his life. The pastor must have a deep passion for helping the hurting and rescuing the perishing. The pastor’s example of graciousness is Jesus—who is pictured as the Good Samaritan filled with compassion for those wounded by the enemy (Luke 10:30-37). Much of the world has forgotten the joy and beauty of helping others. While politics and radical protestors promote division and opposition—pastors, in addition to all of God’s people, must have a heart like Christ.

  1. The Pastor’s Prayer life.

The Bible teaches that all believers are to commune with God in prayer. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” Writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul gave further instructions on prayer stating: “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8). A study of the early church reveals that prayer was an essential factor in their ministry. One writer contends: “The church prayed for its leaders (6:6), its missionaries (13:3), its sick (James 5:14–18), governing authorities (1 Tim. 2:1–2), and just about anything one could think of (Phil. 4:5–7).”[6] Although all believers are encouraged to pray, the pastor is explicitly called to the ministry of prayer.

According to Acts 6:4, there are two essentials that stand above all other duties of the pastor. The passage says: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Note that the ministry of the Word and prayer was considered the predominant task of the pastor. They held this view because Christ was their example of ministry. Preaching and prayer characterized the ministry and life of Christ. The disciples never asked, “Lord teach us to preach.” They did, however, ask, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). By watching Christ in His relationship with His Father, they understood there is prevailing power in prayer.

In closing, let me say that although the pastor will never reach perfection in his ministry role, what he catches in trying to reach perfection, is excellence. May each pastor run toward the prize of the high calling God has laid upon him.   

Missional Until He Comes,
Dr. David Sampson
Titus 1:3


 [1] Cedar, P. A., Hughes, R. K., & Patterson, B. (1991). Mastering the pastoral role. Mastering ministry (8). Portland, Or.: Multnomah; Christianity Today, Inc.

[2] Dave Earley, Pastoral Leadership Is... (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2012).

[3] The Holy Bible: King James Version. All Scripture quoted is from the KJV.  

[4] Karleen, P. S. (1987). The handbook to Bible study: With a guide to the Scofield study system (359). New York: Oxford University Press.

[5] MacArthur, J., F., Jr, Mayhue, R., & Thomas, R., L. (1995). Rediscovering pastoral ministry: Shaping contemporary ministry with biblical mandates (Electronic ed.). Logos Library Systems (89). Dallas: Word Pub.

 [6] Ibid., 81.

Tags: pastor, preaching, pastoral ministry, church leadership, spiritual leadership, teaching the word, pastoral calling

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