Pastors Versus Preachers

As Christians, we often use the words “Pastor” and “Preacher” interchangeably to describe ministers of the church.  To the naked eye, the titles are identical in meaning. However, after considering different ministers who have impacted my life, I have come to the conclusion that preachers are vastly different from pastors, and that we should be wary of their ministry.

I would like to note that I am not aiming to attack ministers who go by the title of Preacher; the title one chooses to go by does not affect the heart of their ministry.  What I am proposing is that there are many preachers who are truly pastors, and pastors who are truly preachers.

Kind of confusing, I know.  But here’s my reasoning:

When defined, a pastor is described as an “archaic word for shepherd“, according to dictionary.com.  Therefore, because the word “pastor” is a synonym for “shepherd”, true pastors perform the same duties as shepherds:  protecting God’s sheep through their ministry.

 “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
-Jeremiah 3:15

In contrast, a preacher is defined as, “a person whose occupation or function it is to preach the gospel,” (dictionary.com). Here, we find the subtle, yet immense difference between the two titles.  A preacher, by it’s definition, simply shares the gospel with others.  Unlike a pastor, a preacher’s description does not imply acting as a shepherd for God’s sheep, meaning the church.

What do I mean by shepherd?  The parable of the lost sheep explains it well.

“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.”

-Luke 15:1-6

So, when I say “pastor”, I mean someone who is willing to go to great lengths to minister to the sheep within the church, and beyond. Simply put, a pastor, to me, is someone who puts the needs of others before their own in order to spread the love of God.  Kinda like WWJD:  What would Jesus (the Good Shepherd) do?

Now you may be thinking, “then why does that make preachers so bad?” Going back to the definition above, it’s a preacher’s occupation to spread the gospel.  While there is nothing wrong with spreading the gospel (I mean, we’re called to do that in Matthew 28:18-20), an occupation of speaking is drastically different from performing the acts that mirror the Good Shepherd.  Consider these words from Jesus about hirelings:

“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
-John 10:11-16

Some ministers reference the entire Bible,

while some select only the sections they agree with.

Some ministers visit with every person in their congregation,

while others only make time for a select few.

Some ministers are involved in all church activities.

Many are not.

Some ministers preach that living in sin is futile, and that we should all (including themselves) accept Christ in order to be saved.

Many do not.

Some ministers forgive others, as Christ would do for them.

Many will not.

A pastor is a shepherd,

whereas a preacher is a motivational speaker.

Choose wisely.

Goodnight and God bless,

-Allyson

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