Lessons for a Young Pastor: Love Your Flock

Every pastor needs a pastor, especially young pastors.  Timothy had Paul, and for young pastors today we have a wealth of experienced pastors (both past and present) to teach us through books, blogs and talks.

As a young pastor I want to and need to listen and learn from these men.

Here are some lessons I’ve learnt from a number of experienced pastors from the book ‘Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry’.

Here’s some notes from the fourth letter to pastor called Timothy (a composite character).

Lesson 17: Love your flock

Ted Christman has written an excellent and challenging letter about the need for the pastor to love his flock.

He says that it is necessary because:

“If we don’t love our flocks, it is proof positive that God the Father did not give us as shepherds to His flock.  Neither was it the ascended Lord Jesus Christ who gave us as a gift to the Church.” 

“If we don’t love our flocks, we will be utterly unable to perform any of our responsibilities with the right motive.” 

“[Loving his sheep] energizes and motivates the under-shepherd to carry out his pastoral responsibilities (such as sermon preparation and delivery, prayer, visiting).” 

And quoting Richard Baxter:

“When the people see that you love them without pretence, then they will hear anything you tell them and they will bear anything you lay upon them.”

A pastor who loves his flock will be characterised by humility and warmth.

“Your sheep must know and feel beyond any shadow of doubt that you are gentle, tender, kind, friendly, interested, focused and warm.”

And a pastor like this will be approachable.  John Stott, on the subject of church members visiting with their pastor, wrote:

“The more they speak to him in his study on weekdays, the better he will speak to them from the pulpit on Sundays.”

Ultimately our love for the flock should resemble the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The most Christ-like thing we can do for our sheep is to give ourselves up for them.”

“If through God’s kindness our ministries are lengthy, we will find a thousand ways to lay our lives down for the flock, often to the point of exhaustion, until the very day of our death.”

Christman closes the letter with one final exhortation, quoting Richard Baxter again:

“See that you feel a tender love in your breasts, and let the people feel it in your speeches and see it in your dealings.  Let them see that you are willing to spend and be spent for their sakes.”

Pastor, love your flock!

[Taken from Chapter 4: Love Your Flock by Ted Christman]