Jesus Clearly Entrusted His Sheep to the Pastor

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

John 3:8 NKJV

Obeying the Holy Spirit is essential not only for our spiritual lives, but also for success in the pastoral ministry. Every Christian is called to be in a church and under the leadership of a pastor. When the church breaks apart, it affects the spiritual community and the individuals in it. God has anointed pastors to shepherd the flock, which is the church (Acts 20:28). The Holy Spirit leads the church through the pastors that He has ordained. Thus, if the pastors rely on the Holy Spirit, their churches will flourish in the way the Holy Spirit desires.

How the pastor should depend and follow the Holy Spirit can be the model for how anyone should follow the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit is concerned with raising a church, His interaction with the pastor is very important to understand.

Relying on and following the Holy Spirit is not as easy as it sounds. Pastors encounter so many difficulties in their work that sometimes, they are guided by concerns rather than the Holy Spirit. They often cannot tell whether they are actually praying or just worrying. Worrying cannot develop the faith to receive answers to prayers. Praying by the Holy Spirit develops the faith to be bold because they have completely trusted God in all situations.

A pastor is one person who has earned the trust of his church members. Though their trust is important, he cannot compromise his ability to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit. Many times, what the Holy Spirit wants through the word of God will conflict with the ideas of the members. When the pastor sides with what God wants, some members will be displeased. They might even complain directly to the pastor and cause him much grief. They do not realize that pastor carries the most burdens when it comes to the church.

There may be many workers in the church, but the role of a pastor can hardly be replaced. He carries the burden of the entire ministry as one who must give an account to God at the end. Everyday, a pastor is as nervous as a new army recruit or a newlywed bride first learning her household chores under her mother-in-law’s scrutiny. There is a Korean saying: “The mother of the bride, concerned about her daughter, would rather become the bride herself on the wedding day.” The pastor is so concerned with the church that he does not hand over his burdens to others.

Obedience to God does not necessarily mean that everybody will be happy. Though he follows the leading of the Holy Spirit, the pastor can still clash with some members and be accused of being a tyrant. However, the church has to acknowledge that Jesus clearly entrusted His sheep to the pastor. As much as the sheep cannot lead the shepherd to the green pastures, the church members cannot instruct their pastor. Yet today, many people do not understand the shepherd-sheep relationship, but instead consider the church as a business. Thus, they say that the church should not be managed by the pastor alone, but by a board or a committee.

Some insist that a church should organize a budget and be managed like a business. However, such an operational method may trigger the moral downfall of the pastor and lead to financial loss for the church. I have seen many cases where pastors aimlessly poured money into unnecessary areas just to fulfill a previously agreed upon budget plans. The Lord desires a church where the priority is placed on the pastor’s obedience to the Holy Spirit and the members’ trust in their pastor. What is reasonable or practical in the business-world does not necessarily apply in the church.

As the church grows, a pastor encounters many difficulties. While he strives to rely on the Holy Spirit, some members try to tempt the pastor into just managing the church. If he succumbs to the pressures and separates the Holy Spirit from his work, God will not entrust new souls to the church. The size of the church will then gradually shrink. On the other hand, if the pastor insists on relying on the Holy Spirit, though the disgruntled members may leave, God will bring in more dedicated members.

God has entrusted pastoral work to overseers (Acts 20:28). The ministry is at times like a spiritual combat; it requires different strategies. The overseer from time to time may need to quietly initiate discreet operations. Even Joshua had to send spies secretly to check out Jericho before conquering the land. This operation was not known to all the Israelites to agree upon. Even Jesus did not reveal Himself to anyone before it was the right time. Instead, He quietly went about and completed His work (John 7:6). If people knew that He was the Son of God, they would not have killed Him. Then, God’s plan could not have been accomplished. Similarly, there are times when the pastor needs to deal with some matters quietly.

However, there are no secrets between the Holy Spirit and the pastor. None of us should have secrets with the Holy Spirit where we do things without consulting and depending on Him. Since the Holy Spirit is the one who positioned the pastor to lead the body of Christ, all the more pastoral duties and the Holy Spirit are inseparable. If the pastor ignores the Holy Spirit, his work will not be successful. He must rely on the Holy Spirit, pray by the Spirit, and consult the Holy Spirit on all issues. However, some church members request that the pastor to consult with them on different issues. No doubt, the pastor should always take the concerns of his members into consideration. Yet, if he only follows the members’ advice, then the pastor will lose the guidance of the Holy Spirit regarding the ministry.

in Let Us Know the Holy Spirit,
Chapter 2 “The Leading of the Holy Spirit.”