John MacArthur on the Heart of a Shepherd
We want to bring this series on the Marks of an Excellent Shepherd to a close with a short excerpt from a recent sermon from John MacArthur. Coming on the heels of the Shepherds’ Conference just over a week ago, the message is called “The Pastor as a Parent.” With hundreds of visiting pastors and church leaders still in attendance, John discussed the attitude and heart of a shepherd and how he is called to faithfully serve his flock.
In this short excerpt, you’ll hear shocking quotes from some of the most influential and popular preachers about their philosophies of ministry, and the priority they place on serving God’s people. Their words stand in stark contrast to the true, biblical heart of a godly shepherd.
You can hear the rest of “The Pastor as a Parent” here.
#1 Posted by
Rick Ratzlaff | Wednesday, March 20, 2013at
Thanks for your straight trajectory over the 40+ years Pastor John. I have listened to virtually all the messages I can find of Pastor John's on the Church and leadership. I have missed this one but will have it listened to by day's end.
However one of the Churches biggest challenges while candidating a pastor is to know if your prospect has the HEART of a Shepherd.
He can have all the tools, all the education from the best school and come out, without the heart (INSTINCT) of a shepherd.
And that may take a lot of time to discern, and only be seen when you work right alongside the man.
I use the word “INSTINCT”. That is God given, inherited from the Spirit, gift that he won’t be able to bypass. It’s his nature. Just like a sheep dog can’t help himself around sheep. And given that a real good sheep dog can become better at obeying his master, he is still born with the “how to”. I know, I’ve used them! And there is a very strong parallel!
So my biggest gap is – how does one ascertain in a short candidating process if the prospect is gifted such? I’m not sure if it’s possible. We just tried. With more “ducks in a row” than I’ve ever seen, and we all blew it.
#2 Posted by
Gabriel Powell | Saturday, March 23, 2013at
Rick, I'll take a stab at your question. Not knowing the process you've experienced, and knowing that no process is perfect, I do think there are some indicators of a shepherds heart (and I would be curious to hear from you if what I propose was tried and failed).
One of the most difficult aspects of shepherding commonly neglected by seminaries in preparation and pastors in practice is that of counseling. Any faithful pastor will strongly adhere to the sufficiency of Scripture for all life and godliness, but many will functionally deny it by referring their hurting sheep to outside counselors who usually are imbibed with worldly wisdom.
So I would ask a prospective shepherds questions like, "How would you handle a man who comes to you seeking help with a sexual addiction? How would you work with a couple on the brink of divorce? What would you do if a woman confessed to you that she struggled with drunkenness? How would you counsel a person who is overcome and even "obsessed" with the fear of death?"
Those questions will tell you if the person at least has a desire to minister to people in difficult circumstances. But it would also be helpful to ask, "Under what circumstances would you refer someone to a psychologist? At what point would you stop meeting with a couple struggling in their marriage?" These kinds of questions drive at the extent or limits of their commitment to shepherding struggling people.
Apart from counseling, another indicator of a shepherd's heart is their commitment to visitation. There is room for variety here, but a shepherd is someone who wants to get to know people in the church personally. One unfaithful shepherd said something like, "If you want to see me you better be on your deathbed." A faithful shepherd will make it a priority to spend time with those under his care. And that time is not just hanging out at the ball game, but being in the home, asking probing questions to see where people are at spiritually, and what their needs are that he and others in the church can legitimately meet. Again, depending on the size of church and particular circumstances this will look different, but the desire and heart to know people individually should be there.
As one who is seeking to be a faithful shepherd, this is where I would start because this is where I see many pastors failing.
#3 Posted by
Rick Ratzlaff | Sunday, March 24, 2013at
Shepherding Paradox: I think I've heard that Pastor John started spending 30-40 hrs a week studying his Bible etc. And I firmly believe that’s why God has done His work at Grace like He has.
I think I understand that his major role at GCC is to be the “teaching pastor”. A 30 - 40 hr week in a pastor’s office studying doesn’t leave much time to be a “Pastor”, or to do “pastoral” work.
And I believe Pastor John would say that the group of Elders is there to do the pastoring, and so they should.
So the paradox is; why do we (the sheep) feel so lost without a “shepherd”?
#4 Posted by
Rick Ratzlaff | Sunday, March 31, 2013at
Thanks Gabriel Powell - I really appreciate your insight and have copied your statement down for future reference. Very helpful and insightful.
We went to our kids Church today who have just had their 2 pastors (1 youth) this winter. A congregation of probably 150 and what a quandary they too are in to discern a shepherd who will make a 40+ yr commitment instead of a career "hireling". There are probably 10 "evangelical" churches around us and I can't think of one worth going to.
As to weather your prescribed process was followed in our situation. I do know that from our end it wasn't. We were relying on recommendations. Thanks for your interest. The desert here is vast. Our little group would like to find a man who would spend 30 - 40 hrs a week studying and preparing himself, let the men of the church administer the daily needs and then demonstrate "a-ha" expository exegesis of the "WORD".