Five facts about pastors that aren’t always understood


Joe McKeever served as pastor of six churches over 42 years, followed by five years as an associational missionary. In “retirement,” he writes articles, draws cartoons, blogs, and preaches as opportunities open.

Joe gave me permission to use a recent blog in this week’s column. I’ve had to edit, so please read the entire piece at

In my experience, most pastors hesitate to teach the biblical understanding of the role of pastors because to do so might sound self-serving, as though they were trying to carve out a bigger role for themselves in leading the church. This is a serious error for which we are now paying as many congregations are turning the minister into a hired hand, employing him as an errand boy, or treating him as an executive brought in to lead their “country club.”

Pastor, preach the whole Word of God. Be bold in declaring its truth. Then, having done this, go forth and set new standards for humbly serving the congregation. Let them see you leading by serving …

What follows is the truth on the role of pastors as taught in Scripture:

Pastors are called by God; they do not volunteer. Volunteers in pastoral ministry do not last. Those choosing this as a “nice career” or respectable vocation will either bail out for something more reasonable, more profitable, or more doable, or they will twist pastoral ministry into something more suited to their taste.

The work is impossible. The demands are incessant. The expectations are unending. Only those called by God stick.

Pastors are overseers of the church, not hirelings. The church that sees itself as a country club, its leadership as the board of directors, and the pastor as the hired executive answerable to the board, functions …  unbiblically and detrimentally to the work of the Gospel …

You do not want a hireling leading your church, friend. “The hireling flees … because he does not care about the sheep” (John 10:13).

Please do yourself and the kingdom a favor the next time you hear some church member refer to “hiring” a pastor. They are called, and never hired.

The pastor is accountable to God for the souls of his congregation. “Obey your leaders, and submit to those who rule over you in the Lord, as those who will give account for your souls; let them do this with joy and not with grief, for that would not be profitable to you.” (Hebrews 13:17).

Hebrews 13:17 ranks among the scariest verses in the Bible. It informs church members that they must submit to their leaders while warning the leaders they will stand before God and give account for their members. That, as much as anything, is why pastors have to be called.

No one in his right mind would volunteer for such accountability.

Let the pastor take this to heart, and pray daily for his flock … And let him do all in his capacity to see that each one is saved and becoming a healthy disciple of the Lord Jesus.

The pastor leads by serving, not by lording. Servant leadership is the plan. In the same way Scripture teaches that a wife should submit to her husband, but he himself should serve her and “give himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:22-29) rather than to dominate her, the Bible teaches that the pastors are overseers of the congregation and should be followed, but they themselves are to serve the people, not lord it over them.

Not nearly enough husbands or pastors get the distinction: They are to follow you, but you are to serve them …  the husband or pastor who plays the “headship” card is seriously out of line and is mistreating the very ones he should be serving.

The pastor is there to please God, not the congregation. On one occasion, a small delegation entered my office.

“Pastor, we thought you would like to know that some in the congregation are unhappy with you.”

I said, “Oh?” Pause. And then “So?”

“Well, I should think that would matter to you.”

I said, “It does. But not much.”

“Then we have a misunderstanding. It’s our understanding that a pastor serves at the pleasure of God’s people. And if they are unhappy he’s not doing his job.”

I said, “There is a misunderstanding, but it’s yours, not mine. The pastor is sent, not to make you happy, but to make you holy and healthy. He’s sent to make the Lord Jesus happy.”


[Dr. David Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, 352 McDonough Road, Fayetteville, GA. Visit them on the web at and “like” them on Facebook.]