Stick with me here; you may end up agreeing with me.

The term “pastor” appears only once in the entire New Testament, while “shepherd” permeates the gospels in particular. In our modern American culture we know very little about shepherds or the work they do. Other than John 10 (the good shepherd) and Psalm 23 (the Lord as my shepherd), the topic is not prevalent in sermons.

Instead, we have substituted a role of our own imagination: pastor.

The duties and responsibilities of today’s pastor figure include a wide range and a long list of custodial and organizational expectations. (The range is so wide, and the list so long, that in many cases pastors are crushed beneath the load.) And the irony is, a very large percentage of those expectations have little or nothing to do with shepherding.

We have taken a business model and superimposed it on the church, thus transforming an organism into an organization. When I asked a pastor friend, and his son who had recently graduated from a large, well-known seminary, what is taught these days in terms of pastoral care, they looked at each other and “not much.” I am sure their experience is not definitive, but I’m equally sure it is not unique.

So to employ the current cultural concept of a pastor to represent the heart and work of our Shepherd is insufficient at best, harmful at worst. By our definition, Jesus is not a pastor, and the vast majority of our pastors are not shepherds.

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