“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12).
What is your pastor’s main job?
Paul hints at the answer in Eph 4:11-12. There he gave a list of offices including apostles, prophets, and evangelists. Then Paul lists pastors (or shepherds) and teachers.
You might think those are two different offices, but there are grammatical reasons to think Paul meant they were one (i.e., that of pastor-teacher), or that teacher supplements the meaning of pastor. Either way, pastors teach.
We see that imagery of shepherding-as-teaching used elsewhere in the NT. For example, here is how Jesus commissioned Peter:
“Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep’” (John 21:17c).
The shepherding imagery is also used to describe the threat posed by false teachers:
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt 7:15).
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:28-30).
How does a pastor protect his flock from wolfish false teachers? By exposing their errors…through teaching!
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2 Tim 4:2-3).
Of course, there are other pastoral duties, such as providing oversight and administration, but teaching is the main way the pastor-teacher helps guard and build up the Body of Christ.
If feeding/teaching is the pastor’s main job, then what are the sheep supposed to do?
Eat! That is, listen, evaluate, learn, and put it into practice what you are taught:
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Phil 4:9).
Teaching is a two-way street that is constantly under construction.