Understanding a Pastor’s Call by Pastor Mark Garver

Understanding a Pastor’s Call
Pastor Mark Garver

Mark Garver currently pastors Cornerstone Word of Life Church (www.cornerstone-wol.org) in Madison, AL, where he teaches and preaches the Word of God in power and demonstration. He founded Cornerstone in November of 1993 with the premise to enable believers to prevail by the Word of God. He has a world vision and travel overseas regularly to minister in minister training schools, churches, and to hold crusades. Mark Garver is also a graduate of RHEMA Bible Training Center in Tulsa, OK.

Before pastoring, Mark traveled to several foreign countries, where he saw the hand of God move mightily. Besides pastoring the congregation, he has a heart to train up leaders in the Body of Christ.  Mark is known for his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  The Lord regularly gives him songs, hymns and spiritual songs that always bless and encourage the people. The Lord also regularly uses him in the word of knowledge particularly in the area of healing.  Throughout his ministry he has seen many saved, healed and delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He and his wife, Rhonda have one daughter, Destiny.

“What is the role of a pastor?”  If you asked that question in a poll, you would undoubtedly get many varied and differing opinions depending upon who you asked.  If you asked church members, you would get many different opinions.  If you asked other Pastors, you would get varying opinions, but I think the best place to look is in the Word.  Of course you can expand and elaborate on what I am about to share, but if this is not our basic foundation for pastoring, I am concerned that we will not be what the Lord desires us to be as Pastors and ministers of the Gospel.

We find our scripture reference in an unusual place.  It is located in Ezekiel 34:1-4.

1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

I find in this passage of scripture the seven fold job description for every Pastor.  I want to look at each one of them pulling in New Testament correlation to each and every assignment that is given to a Shepherd.  In this portion of scripture we see the Lord is displeased with the shepherds because they are not doing what they were assigned to do.  I believe pastoring is the greatest calling on the earth and if we want to do it well we must set ourselves to first please the Lord.

Responsibility # 1: Feed the Flock

The first thing the Lord said was that the Shepherds ought to feed the flocks.  Acts 20:28 says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”  It is quite an honor to be called to break the bread of life.  When we set out to feed our congregations, we must give them a word in due season.  We must give them a word from the Word of God that will change their lives.  We, under the Lord’s direction, are to lead them into green pastures and give them the seed of the Word of God that will produce fruit in their lives that will remain.  Although the pulpit time a Pastor has is probably only a small percentage of what he does, it is one of the most important.  We as ministers, especially Pastors, must make sure the sheep are getting a good balanced diet of the Word of God.  The Word of God has the answer for all life’s questions and problems.  So we must determine that we will truly feed the flock with the Word of God, the Word that will deliver them, sustain them, heal them, bless them, and direct them.

Responsibility # 2: Strengthen the Diseased and Heal the Sick

The next assignment for a Pastor is to strengthen the diseased and heal the sick.  We all know that you and I cannot personally heal anyone, but our Savior who is now our boss did and whatever the boss says goes.  So as Pastors he wants us to minister regularly to the sick and diseased.  In James 5:14 and 15 says, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him”.  So we, as elders and Pastors in the body, must know how to help people receive their healing.  We must regularly minister to those with diseases and sickness in their physical bodies.  In Acts 10:38 it says the Lord Jesus, the Chief Shepherd, in his earthly ministry went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.  He is our example.  You might think, “I am not gifted to minister to the sick”, but I would tell you that as a shepherd it is part of your equipment.  The Lord would not require you to do something and then not give you the equipment to do it.

Responsibility # 3: Bind Up That Which Was Broken

The third command from the Lord for those who are called to shepherd the sheep is to bind up that which was broken.  The job of a Pastor is to help people put the broken pieces of their lives back together.  Sometimes they are so broken that it is giving people the vision to start their lives over again.  So much in the world today lends itself to the breaking down of people and their family.  We are called to pick up what Jesus said in Luke 4:18 “he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted”.  Our churches must be a place where the Spirit of God can restore broken people.  The restoration of a person is not always an easy task.  When you restore a house, a car, or a piece of furniture, the process of restoration can be very labor intensive, but the end result of putting something back to its original beauty is well worth it; how much more someone who is God’s child.  There are few things more rewarding than seeing someone’s life that was broken transformed into wholeness.

Responsibility # 4: Bring Back That Which Was Driven Away

Moving down our job assignment list we find bringing back that which was driven away.  Before we look into this let me first say that there are those who leave your pastoral care that were never your sheep.  Your sheep know the voice of their shepherd, like we know the voice of the chief shepherd.  We do not have to chase those who caused strife and division in the body.  Because where there is strife there is every evil work, we should not go after those who have caused strife.  Matthew 18:12  “How think ye?  if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?”  So as a Pastor we should have a heart to go after the sheep who wander off.  No matter the size of the church 100 or 10,000, we must have systems in place to be able to find those who have gone astray.  First of all your heart must be in this one.  It can be frustrating, because usually it the same people over and over again.  I teach all these principals to my staff and even my volunteer leaders.  We are pastoring together and I need their help, especially with this one.  The volunteer leaders may even have an inroad into people’s lives that you do not have.

Responsibility # 5: Seek That Which Was Lost

I am sure you have received some kind of performance review in your life.  What does the employer judge you on?  Hopefully, there had been some kind of goal or even very specific standards you must reach, otherwise the review would be unfair.  In the same way the Word of God gives us clear goals to obtain to see if we are doing what we are supposed to do concerning our job description.  One more of those requirements found in Ezekiel 34 is to seek that which is lost.  II Timothy 4:5, “…do the work of an evangelist”.  Paul told Timothy a young pastor by the Spirit of God to do the work of an evangelist.  The main focus of any real evangelist is to win the lost.  So as a Pastor and the leader of a congregation, we must have outreach.  We must constantly be mindful of the great commission.  I believe the book of Acts gives us the strategy.  In Acts 1:8 it says we are to reach locally “our Judea”, we are to reach out in our region, “Samaria”, and into the nations of the world.  I do not think it is an either/or thing.  If you had 100 acres of land you would be a foolish farmer just to plant the 10 acres closest to your house.  No, we need to work the whole field.  We must be concerned about lost humanity everywhere in the World.  I never used to consider myself an evangelist, it wasn’t my gift, but then I realized as a minister of reconciliation and being the witness that God called me to be, I had to get the heart of evangelism into the people the Lord called me to Pastor.  So we reached out to our community, our region, and many nations of the world.

Responsibility # 6: Keep the Right Attitude

Another job requirement for a Pastor that this scripture brings out is how and with what kind of heart and attitude you “rule over” them.  What is our attitude towards the people God has given us to watch over?  In Hebrews 13:17 it tells us that we watch over their souls.  You can watch with kindness and love or you can watch over them with force, manipulation and cruelty.  On the job performance reviews that I give my staff, there are a list of about 10 things on which I base the review.  There is one, however, that is the most important to me, because I believe it is the most important to the Lord.  It is “attitude”.  If you and I have a good attitude, if we will Pastor and live with kindness, we can change peoples lives forever.  The Lord Himself is good.  He is full of mercy and slow to anger.  He is love and it is His very goodness that draws the people to Him.  If we will rule over the people with love and kindness, we will go a long way toward getting a good performance review from the Lord.

Responsibility # 7: Stay in Your Place and Carry Out Your Assignment

The Last thing Ezekiel tells us by the Holy Spirit is found in verse 5, “And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.”  First, we as shepherds need to be in our place.  We must make sure we are serving in the communities and the nations that God has called us to or His sheep will be scattered because their shepherd is not there.  In the beginning of your ministry when it may not have started out like you wanted it to or if it s not as big as it is supposed to be or if there are not as many people as you saw in your heart, the temptation is to close it down or leave.  The only reason to leave or shut something down is because the Chief Shepherd says so.  We are not moved by numbers, salaries, cheers, jeers, or any circumstance.  We are responsible to be in our place shepherding the flock that the Lord has assigned us to shepherd.  Why?  We do not want to see the sheep scattered.  When did it become about us anyway?  It is about the will of God.  We are here only to do the will of God.  When the sheep are scattered they are open game to the devil.   The devil is waiting, ready to devour those people who are scattered because we, the Shepherds do not hold our place.

The Lord wants us to be a success.  Success is simply obedience to God.  I believe by making these seven parts of our job description the basis of our ministry as a Pastor we will be a great success.  The numbers will come.  The money will come.  The help will come.  Even more than any of those outward rewards, the Chief Shepherd will be pleased.