Metaphors for a Minister of the Word

No one really desired to be a shepherd. It was hard, lonely, dirty, and lowly work. Shepherds had no fanfare and received no accolades from the masses. But shepherds had one driving duty: to care for the sheep that were entrusted to their care. Predators could lurk and swiftly attack so shepherds had to be vigilant to be with and watch over the helpless sheep. Shepherds had to provide still, quiet waters for the sheep to drink without harm from without or conflict from within the fold. 

 

The noblest of all callings that God could give to a man is to be a carer of the souls whom Christ has purchased with His own blood. To feed God’s people the Word, to shepherd God’s people through the journeys and trials of life, to counsel God’s people through unforeseen and painful heartaches, to protect God’s people from dangerous doctrines and teachers, to remind God’s people of the unchanging gospel and the sure-reality of heaven are just a few of the immense privileges that God places upon a pastor. But how does the Bible describe a pastor? What are some of the figures of speech that the Spirit of God employs to describe this calling? This essay will bring forth seven metaphors that speak of the minister of the gospel and his work.

1. Watchman (Ezekiel 33:1-9)

Watchmen are workers. They busy themselves by vigilantly keeping guard to protect the population that they are called to oversee. God told Ezekiel that he was appointed as a watchman for His people so that when he hears a message from God he is to give the people a warning from God. If he receives God’s message but chooses to not warn the people, then he will be guilty as an unfaithful watchman. But if he receives God’s message and does warn the people, then has delivered himself. When danger comes, the watchmen must sound the alarm to protect the citizens. The watchman cannot sleep or be careless; nor can be be indifferent or lazy. He must stay awake, be vigilant, be watchful, and be alert at all times because danger can loom from all fronts — from both far away and from near (even from within at times!). So a pastor must also watch the flock to guard from encroaching danger from the outside and the inside.

2. Workman (2 Tim 2:15)

Workmen exert all their energy to do the required duties to the best of their abilities. Paul commands young, pastor Timothy to be diligent to present himself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. Consider a soldier who is faithful to please his commanding officer. Consider an athlete who works hard and competes according to the rules. Consider a farmer who works hard to receive his share of the crops. Just as a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer distinguish themselves by their zealous effort and tireless work-ethic, so ministers of the gospel must similarly be workers in the exegesis and expositing of God’s word. All who desire the privilege of shepherd-leadership desire a fine work.

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