The Pastor’s Job

            A fellow pastor once talked about how he and his wife were discussing possible careers for their high school age son. When the young man didn’t have anything specific in mind, the pastor and his wife suggested that he think about going into the public ministry. The young man thought about that for a moment and then asked, “What exactly do you do, Dad?” Hearing that made me realize that even pastor’s families often don’t realize what pastor’s do.

            The purpose of this study is to serve as a reminder (for pastor and members) of what the Bible tells us the pastor’s work is, and to see how it is actively applied in our congregation.

            This study will be divided into three main sections: The Scriptural qualifications for pastors; what the Bible says a pastor’s responsibilities are; and finally we will consider how your pastor spends his time in the work of this ministry.

Part I - Pastoral Qualifications

            What should a pastor be like? The Holy Spirit inspired and preserved quite a bit on this subject, most of which is found in the three “Pastoral Epistles” of Paul, upon which our study will focus. These “Pastoral Epistles” are so named because they were written to two pastors, Timothy and Titus, whose ministries included many congregations. With such a responsibility, Paul gave them both guidelines for what to look for in a pastor. Consider the following sections from the three Pastoral letters:

       1 Timothy 3:1-7

       2 Timothy 2:24-25

       Titus 1:5-9

            The following chart takes these three sections and lists these important attributes side by side to help us see the big picture. Notice that many of these pastoral qualifications are listed by Paul in more than one of these letters (some are even mentioned in all three sections).

1 Timothy

2 Timothy


above reproach


above reproach

husband of one wife


husband of one wife



not quick tempered








kind to all


able to teach

able to teach


not addicted to wine


not addicted to wine

not pugnacious


not pugnacious





 not quarrelsome


free from the love of money


not fond of sordid gain

manages household well



keeps his children in control


children who believe...

not a new convert



of good reputation




patient when wronged




holding fast the faithful word


correcting in gentleness

refute those who contradict



not self-willed



loving what is good










            In these three sections, pastors are called by three different terms, which describe their office: “bishop” or “overseer” (1 Timothy 3:1, Titus 1:7); “servant of the Lord” (2 Timothy 2:24); and “elder” (Titus 1:5). In Scripture, these terms are all used to describe the office of what we call a “pastor” or “minister” today. The term “pastor” comes from the Latin word for “shepherd” and is connected to this office based on Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders at the end of his third missionary journey: “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” (Acts 20:28). A pastor is to oversee (bishop), lead (elder), feed (shepherd), and serve (minister) the believers under his care.         

Part II - Pastoral Duties

            Paul tells the elders of Ephesus to “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock...” Likewise Paul writes to Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). The ministry of the Word involves the Biblical foundation of the pastor as well as his members.

            In order to ensure a solid foundation Paul encourages Timothy, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13), and again, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15). The most important duty of a pastor is the continuing study of God’s Word so that he may “Be diligent to present [him]self approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

            This solid foundation is also to be passed on to the members of the congregation through instruction in the Word. The pastoral letters are full of terms like “preach” (2 Timothy 4:2), “instruct” (1 Timothy 4:6; 2 Timothy 3:16), “charge” (1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:14), “teach” (1 Timothy 4:11, 6:2; 2 Timothy 4:2), “commit” (2 Timothy 2:2), “exhort” (1 Timothy 4:13, 5:1, 6:2; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9, 2:6,9,15) and “affirm” (Titus 3:8). These terms bring out the importance of instructing the flock in the Word, and keeping them from wandering from the truth. Scripture has been given to us for that express purpose: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

            At times this work will also call for discipline on the part of the pastor and members towards the straying member(s), out of concern for their eternal future. Paul tells Timothy, “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20 - cf. 2 Timothy 2:25, 4:2; Titus 1:13, 2:15, 3:10).

            Finally, the work of the pastor involves guarding against the intrusion of false teaching from without and within. Timothy had been sent to Ephesus for that very reason (1 Timothy 1:3-4). Then, after writing about some of the false teachings that would come, Paul continues, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Timothy 4:6). False teaching is to be pointed out, rejected (Titus 3:10), and avoided (2 Timothy 3:5).

            The following verse serves as a good summary of the work of a pastor: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Part III - Pastoral Work at Zion

            How is this work being carried out here at Zion? In the call given to your pastor, you charged him to:

          “preach the Gospel of our Lord among us in its truth and purity, and to administer the Sacraments in accordance with the inspired Word of God and the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as laid down in the Book of Concord of 1580, and to establish and maintain sound Lutheran practice at all times;

          To discharge toward all members of our congregation the functions of a pastor, that is, to watch over their souls in an evangelical manner (Acts 20:28), in particular, to visit the sick and the dying; to admonish indifferent and erring members (2 Timothy 4:2); and to be ever zealous for the winning of souls for Christ’s kingdom;

          To be faithful in the spiritual care of the young in particular, to instruct our catechumens in the Word of God, as it is taught in the Small Catechism of Doctor Martin Luther, and, in general to be diligent in fostering and furthering the educational agencies of our congregation;

          To walk and conduct yourself at all times as it becomes a minister of Christ (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:7-9), so that by your Christian life you may be an example to all men (Matthew 5:16); and

          To devote your time, strength, and ability to the general advancement of the Kingdom of Christ and to the gathering in of His harvest.”

            The pastor’s work will vary in congregations, depending on the size and the number of people assisting the pastor in that work. Here at Zion, the pastor’s work is best divided into the following categories: Study, Instruction, Visitation, Administrative, and Travel.

          Study takes up about 48% of the pastor’s time and involves:

    Personal Bible study;

    Worship service preparation - Bible readings, hymns, etc.;

    Bible class preparation;

    Sermon work

    Synodical conference / convention preparation.

          Visitation takes up the next largest amount of the pastor’s time (about 20%) and consists of:

    Checking in with members on the phone;

    Pastoral home visits;

    Pastoral sick calls /shut-in visits.

          Instruction - Last year your pastor spent about 15% of his time in instruction. This involves:

    Worship services;

    Sunday Bible classes;

    Catechism classes;

    Adult Instruction classes;

    Meeting with members for ongoing Biblical instruction;

    Nursing home classes.

          Administration involves about 12% of the pastor’s time and consists of:

    Bulletin preparation / printing;

    Sunday School lesson preparation;

    Devotion compilation;

    Web site upkeep;

    Council meeting / voters’ meeting preparation;

    Church maintenance and cleaning;

    Synodical work as our conference secretary;

    Errands for church supplies.

          Travel makes up about 3% of the pastor’s time and includes:

    Travel to and from members homes for visiting / classes;

    Travel to and from TN services / classes in TN;

    Travel to and from South side services.

            As an “under-shepherd” of Christ, it is the pastor’s responsibility and desire to bring the Word of God to you – through worship services, Bible classes, over the phone, and in private home devotions. Your pastor is always available for Scriptural guidance, counseling, and instruction. If you have questions, if you are interested in studying a specific issue or topic, or if you or a family member are sick and would like private devotions, let your pastor know. Your pastor is here to serve you with the Word!

            But your pastor also needs your help: He needs your support and your prayers. Pray that your pastor would be a shepherd who is faithful to the Word of God; pray that he would have a love for souls, and conduct his work accordingly; and pray that the Lord would give him the strength to carry out his work according to God’s will. May the Good Shepherd bless each of us in our service for Him!

Note: This study was prepared for the Bible Class at Zion Lutheran Church, Lawrenceville, GA by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew.

If you would like more information about this study,
please contact Pastor Mayhew