Another Look: I Am a Pastor

Sheep on hillside in Kyrgyzstan (2001)

I wrote this many years ago, while on a mission trip in India. I used it to teach children about what a pastor is and does.

Over the years, I’ve come back to it many times. Its simple words remind me of and refresh me in God’s calling.

Perhaps, today, it can be of encouragement to those who share a pastoral call, in whatever specific form that may be.

“Be shepherds of the flock of God.” (Acts 20:28)

• • •

I am a pastor …

If you would ask me who I am, I would answer, “a pastor.”

To be a pastor means to be a shepherd.

To be a shepherd means to care for sheep…

to attend to their births,

to cleanse and groom them, to see that they are well fed,

to tend to them when they are hurt or sick,

to go ahead of them, seeking clean sources of food and water, to rescue them from difficulties,

to guard them from predators and fight off attackers; to seek and find them when they wander off,

to provide a calming presence when they are in frightening situations,

to remove them from the comfort of sheepfold at times, and lead them out into open places,

to gather them together again and lead them back to their warm, familiar home,

to understand the unique characteristics of each sheep — where each one is weak and where each is strong — so that I might give the entire flock wise and sensitive care.

to set them on their feet again when they fall and cannot right themselves; to put up and maintain fences to protect them and keep them from going astray,

to see to their health and nurture them toward maturity, so that they can reproduce and bring forth lambs,

to help them adapt to and flourish in the different seasons and circumstances of life,

to remember, mourn, and bury them when they die.

I am a pastor. I take care of sheep.

In return, they nourish me, warm me, and keep me company on bright days and through dark nights.

They are my friends.

With them, I follow a greater Shepherd, who does all this and more for me as well as them. God equips me to serve my flocks as an under-shepherd, and I am generously rewarded.

I do what I do for my Shepherd’s pleasure, for the increase of his honor, and for the well being of the ones he created and loves forever.

God is the Shepherd of us all, and in him we have no wants.

8 thoughts on “Another Look: I Am a Pastor

  1. I think it’s a little more complex than that. John the Baptist is a good example. Did he seek celebrity? Obviously not. Was celebrity thrust upon him? I’d say yes.

    SO, some preachers want fame; others simply draw people to them without effort on their part, such as Billy Graham, and become famous without a particular desire to be famous.

    Discerning the difference can be challenging.


  2. “In return, they nourish me, warm me, and keep me company on bright days and through dark nights.
    They are my friends.”

    this, I love


  3. If only more “pastors” spent their time in caring for their flocks, instead of thinking of themselves, and ways to become wealthier and more famous. To my mind, pastors have no business seeking celebrity; but too many do.


  4. Good, focused post.

    Whenever this topic comes up, I like to point people toward Phillip Keller’s fine, short book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23,” so I’ll do so again… 🙂

    (PDF available free, I believe)


  5. This is perhaps the best description of a pastor that I’ve read. I plan to return to this often myself and use it to train other in discerning their pastoral calling. Thank you.


  6. Chaplin Mike, simple is good , at times great. At times we all need to go back to the basics, even in what we believe and live for. I am enjoying catching up on some of your post and that of M.. Spencer. Thanks for taking the time to keeping this site up. I always stressed to my children at Christmas the difference between the educated, worldly, high status and wealthy wise men and the shepherds, uneducated, low in status and manual workers who came to the Shepard on faith and trust. Jesus came for all and cares not about worldly status. The sheep did trust their shepherds. Context of the Bible is simple, complex and great.


  7. “God is the Shepherd of us all, and in him we have no wants.”

    It’s easy to lose sight of that truth; but truth it is.


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