Pastors have a duty to shepherd the flock
The first statement of the 689 Baptist Confession of Faith is as follows: "The Holy scri pture is the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience (practice)..."
Among other things, this means if a duty is clearly set forth in God’s word, then it is to be complied with regardless of the cost.
The Apostle Peter sets forth a pastoral duty in these words.
"Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God...." (I Peter 5: 1,2)
Briefly stated the duties of the pastor are: (1) Shepherd the flock; and (2) Exercise oversight over the flock.
The specific duties can be divided into two categories; instruction and supervision.
In the matter of instruction, the analogy is obvious.
The sheep depend upon the shepherd to lead them to nourishing pasture.
What the pasture is to the sheep, the word of God is to the people of God.
Food must be eaten and assimilated for physical health and growth.
Spiritual truth must be understood, believed and assimilated, in order to maintain spiritual health and growth.
One of the main responsibilities of the elder week by week, is to make sure that his people are fed spiritually.
This means he must give himself to disciplined study and fervent prayer.
He must earnestly seek to know the mind of God that he might effectively minister that portion of God’s word that is best suited to their present need.
He must not limit himself to a few topics he enjoys speaking about and that his people delight in hearing.
He must bring to them the whole counsel of God, withholding nothing that is profitable.
For the most part, God’s people rely heavily upon the ministry of the word each Lord’s Day as their main source of instruction in the ways of God.
For a pastor to stand before his people unprepared is gross neglect of duty.
He must be prepared to convey the largest possible amount of truth in order that the brethren may have their souls fed.
Supervision or overseeing the flock involves a close watch over individual souls.
The elder is not to presumptuously intrude into personal matters, but as circumstances require, he is to warn, encourage, advise, comfort, rebuke, exhort, instruct and correct.
This of course means there will be occasions when judicious inquiry must be made.
The appropriate time for such inquiry to be made would be during regularly scheduled pastoral visits, or when it is evident a problem exists which must be dealt with.
Such inquiry has its basis in a heart of genuine compassionate concern.
A true shepherd is concerned about the eternal welfare of those souls which have been entrusted to his care.