“You can’t have both,” he said. “He’s a great preacher, but he’s not a good pastor. He can preach the Bible, but he is not a people person.” The rest of the Pastor Search Committee watched the Chairman as he explained, “You can’t have both. Either you will find a good preacher, or a good pastor, but not both.” The idea that men and ministry are divided by either the ability to communicate or the ability to minister is a crushing idea to true gospel ministry.
I am unsure where I first heard this statement, but it surprised me immediately and has followed me throughout my ministry. It is one of those statements that you quickly want to defend, jumping up and down in disagreement. It is a statement that has haunting consequences for the church and one I believe is dangerous to the pastor and his ministry.
Pastors, this lie will hurt you, your church, and your ministry. If you allow it into your thinking and philosophy of ministry, it will slowly reduce you to one or the other. I am convinced from the Scripture that God calls only one kind of pastor and he is to be both a good preacher and a good shepherd to the people of God.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2Ti 4:1-2 ESV)
Preaching is not just a good idea. It is not just a great method for getting information out. It is God’s idea and His design for His Bride, the church. “For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.” (1Co 1:21 ASV) Preaching in the local church is the serious calling from heaven by God to a man on earth. If God has placed on a man the charge to preach, it is a charge to preach well.
Preachers are under constant pressure from the One Who called us to do better in academic preparation and in spiritual application. The preacher is to be prepared in season and out (all times) to make a public declaration of the Biblical message of salvation. The pastor is primarily a preacher of Scripture and secondly a shepherd of sheep, but he is both.
The New Testament uses the word pictures of the Old Testament to describe the relationship of the pastor to the church; shepherd and sheep. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28 ESV) As an overseer of a flock, we serve, love, and encourage Christians as they walk through the wicked world around. The great tool of the shepherd is the preaching and teaching of the Word. However, that tool is most effective when the sheep lovingly trusts the shepherd.
What does pastoral oversight look like in the modern evangelical church? I am regulated to my context of the American southern church. In that context pastors are driving to the hospital to pray with a sheep before surgery. Why? Because they are fearful of pain, death, or just being put to sleep and pastors pray for the peace of God to overtake any human fear. Overseeing includes administrative tasks at the church; bulletins, budgets, and buildings. Another area of oversight is in the area of counsel. Pastors will have office counseling sessions and home counseling sessions. We even have counseling sessions while traveling to a meeting, standing in a corn field, or at a local coffee house. You must be both pastor and preacher and you must do it well in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit.
This is His church; bought with His blood. We are His servants and as servants we serve at His pleasure. We love the sheep and become frustrated by the sheep, but they are His sheep and we are to care for them in pastoral ministry.
Pastors are called to preach the greatest message in the universe; Jesus saves. We should be the best communicator of that message we can possible be. Pastors are also called to love and care for sheep; that will take prayer and a humble spirit. Sheep will kick back and hurt the very one caring for them. One of my members has great southern insight in describing such sheep, “They are as crazy as a run over dog. They will bite you when you try to help them.” I have tried to help such sheep and taken the bite.
I wish I could say that I have achieved the balance between preaching and shepherding. The truth is I shepherd, I care for the sheep that bite, I structure budgets, and I even type the bulletins just so they will let me preach. I enjoy preaching more, but preaching without shepherding is only half fulfilling your call. Sheep are more apt to follow the shepherd that loves them than the one who remains in the confines of his office each week locked away from the sheep. Never doubt that they know the difference.
Pastors, we have a calling. Preach with the power of the Holy Spirit. Shepherd the flock with the compassion of Jesus Christ. Our calling does not allow us to neglect either preaching or pastoring. Our Savior empowers us to be both.