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Washington, DC Prayer Meeting, October 28, 2011

At Hylton Memorial Chapel, Woodbridge, VA. 5:00 pm

As a Pastor, Are You Shepherding the Sheep?

Are You’re a Pastor Because You Preach, or You Preach Because You’re a Pastor?

Preaching does not make anybody a pastor. Like the old saying, a hood does not make a monk. You can sit in a garage all day; it does not make you a car. According to one of the Psalms of David, the first and most powerful preaching about God was done, not by people, but by non-human creations.

"The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament show his handiwork. Day unto day utter speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard" (Psalm 19:1-3).

Jesus said that if people stop shouting "Hosanna to the son of David" the rock’s mouth would crack open and would give glory to God. When people are praising God, they are actually dignifying themselves by recognizing the power of God. If they are not careful non-human creations will replace them and put man to shame by giving glory to God.

Who is a Pastor?

If non-human creations can preach to us according to this precious Psalm 19 of David, why do we think that preaching makes a person a pastor? Can you call a tree or a bird a pastor? Yet both of them have a way to praise God. Not every person who preaches is a pastor. Anybody can preach, but not anybody can be a pastor. There are many people with the title of a pastor that are not ministering while other people in their church are the ones ministering to the people.

A pastor is a person who has received and accepted the divine call of God being led by the Spirit of God to minister to a group of people, as a shepherd making himself available to the flocks. If you’re unavailable to the people, you can carry the title of a pastor, you can even tell yourself you are pasturing. Are you really a pastor? A pastor is not a businessman. Perhaps you claim you can do both. How much of your time is devoted to spending time with the Lord and ministering to people as compared to the time you spend in the business part of the ministry? This is one of the issues destroying the ministry of Christ. We spend so much time managing the business aspect of the ministry instead of delegating that part to a person we trust and believe. In the end the spiritual part of the ministry suffers. The sheep are therefore not fed. Today, you cannot tell the difference between the ministry of God or the secular world because they both engage in the same behavior – get as much money as you can! Jesus had a clash with Peter over the same issue.

Peter’s Business Syndrome

After the resurrection of Christ, he gave instructions to his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father. Jesus was asking them to start preparing for the ministry missions ahead of them. But, Peter decided he was going to go back to his old business, back into fishing. So Peter got in the boat with some of the disciples. He was supposed to be a leader even after Jesus warned him that the devil wanted to sift him as wheat. Jesus said, "Peter, I have prayed for you so that you faith may not fail. When you are converted strengthen your brethren" (St. Luke 22:32).

The first thing Jesus did was to prevent them from catching any fish all night. One big lesson I have learned in my walk with the Lord. All the doors he does not want me to enter will be locked shut. Do not worry about locked doors! They are the wrong direction. Many times, I used to lament when I asked some Christian leaders to help me during my project, and they refuse. Some would not even return my call. I no longer feel bad anymore. One day, the Lord made it very clear to me that why should I worry about a person who I perceive may be carrying the glory of God when I can go directly to the glory giver who is God himself. Celebrity preachers only carry the copy of the reflections of God. Only God is the one who reveals the original glory through his Son, Jesus Christ. I remember one time there was a church event and good food, presents and other items were being served to the children. For whatever reason, the kids who came late believed the servers have stopped serving food. Those kids who came late were so mesmerized by the food and presents being displayed by other kids. The later comers started asking the ones with food if they could join to eat with them. One of the Sunday school teachers who overheard the conversations announced in the hall saying, "We still have more food! The servers are still serving! Go and get your own plate, including some drinks, and bring to the celebration hall for yourself!" From this I learn a good lesson. Instead of drooling over the blessing of others, why don’t I go directly to God, the giver of all blessings? When somebody rejects you by shutting the door at your face, instead of getting angry, rejoice! The person is doing you a favor and inadvertently putting up a detour sign saying, "go another direction, the road is closed." When man closes his door, God will open the golden bridge to your destination. Praise God!

In the morning, Jesus appeared by the seashore. The disciples have worked all night and despite Peter was a professional fisherman, they caught nothing. They were hungry, cold, tired and discouraged. Then Jesus appeared to them. The only pieces of fish the disciples had were the ones Jesus brought for them. Jesus brought two sets, the cooked and the uncooked pieces of fish. Jesus served them breakfast with the cooked fish and the bread he had prepared for them. He then used the uncooked pieces of fish as a parable to Peter and the rest of the disciples saying, "Peter, do you love me more than these?"

As a pastor, which one do you love more, your interest in serving the Lord, or your relentless desire to make more money using the ministry as a cover? That conversation between Peter and Jesus before other disciples was the turning point in the life of Peter. Jesus came to restore Peter so he could in turn prepare the rest of the disciples and position them to receive the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. We see the result of Peter’s conversation with Jesus on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. Peter was the one who preached and three thousand people became believers (Acts 2:29-41).

To Pastor is to be a Shepherd

Jesus calls himself a good shepherd not because he is Jesus, but because he has a personal touch to everybody who reaches out to him as directed by the Father. As a shepherd, you are supposed to feed the sheep. Can they hear your voice, and can they follow you? Are you able to respond in crisis situations? If you are not available to respond, do you have crisis response team in your ministry to respond to the sheep in crisis? Are you sitting in your executive office and asking people to come to you instead of reaching out to people? When Jesus was going to a national crusade, a woman stopped him. Jesus called the woman a dog because the woman was actually disturbing Jesus from where he was going. She did not care what Jesus called her. She just wanted a miracle. She received her miracle from Jesus. If Jesus could stop despite the distraction it created for him on his way to a national convention, why are we not able to respond to the flocks in crisis situations? What is the difference between a preacher called to serve and an entertainer on the television? If your contact with people is all they can see you on the television, you are not ministering to the people, but an entertainer. An entertainer can inspire people in the name of God. A minister takes a new responsibility of adding a human touch to his ministry. If they cannot reach you, if they call you and you refuse to respond because you are too busy with the business part of your ministry, question whether you are serving the Lord, or yourself. There are so many people in the ministry who claim to be serving the Lord, but they are actually self-serving while using Jesus as a front.

Revelatory Dream

While writing this article, the spirit of God brought to me a dream I had a couple of days before writing. I still do not know the total meaning of the dream. In that dream, I saw a former President of U.S. sitting at a bus stop. I was living in a house less than half a block from this bus stop. As a person that I admired, in that dream I walked up to him where he was sitting. He was still dressed in a black suit like I have seen him when he was the president. Here was a person that used to be famous in the world. There was not a single person around him. There were no security men. There were no cars passing by. The street was deserted. I saw him sitting alone by himself. He looked like he was a little sad. Then I walked to him and said, "What’re you doing here?" He responded with a sad face and said, "I’m waiting for a bus." In that dream, I was a little upset with him and wandering why he had no protection and was alone. I was greatly concerned for his safety. I could not remember how the conversation went, but I believe I volunteered to drive him to where he was going so he would not have to take a bus. He was hesitant and insisted he wanted to take a bus. So, I asked him to sign a paper for me that he willingly refused my help because I did not want people to blame me if anything happened to him. He wrote something on the paper which I could not read. In that dream, I saw another well-known politician walking around without protection. While people were wondering what was going on. I told them, "I just saw the former president sitting at the bus stop, waiting for a bus, too."

My perception of the dream is the riches of this world and the fame associated with it will not last forever. One day, regardless to who we may be, no matter how famous or rich, we will be stripped of everything we have and be reduced to nothing. Those people who play with the illusion that they will be able to carry their luxury homes to heaven will be greatly disappointed.

Jesus said to Peter, "Feed my sheep" (St. John 21:17).

God said through Ezekiel, "Woe (curse) to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves. Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?" (Ezekiel 34:2).

The purpose of entering the ministry is not to build wealth for yourself or a celebrity image so people can worship you. The purpose of being a pastor is to serve the people with a human touch as directed by the Spirit of the Holiness of God. The key to a servant is what Jesus said to me on one of his visitations, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take his cross, and follow me" (St. Matthew 16:24).

One day the fire of judgment will come upon the hearts of disobedience. When Israel continued to disobey God, one day, God disrobed them. He stripped them naked, and brought them down to nothing. We have been hearing messages from both radio and television that the judgment of God is coming upon the nation. They forget to include that the greater judgment of God is coming upon the church as well.

"But that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes shall be beaten with few" (St. Luke 12:47-48).

When Jesus made this statement, he was not talking about the end time. He was talking about the time of visitations of his workers on the mission field. Many people have confused most of Christ’s visitations with end time. There are some visitations Jesus will make to check his messengers out to see how they are doing. The whipping rod comes out if he catches them doing the wrong thing. The chastening rod is God’s tool to whip a messenger to shape! Jesus does not do the whipping. There are specialized angels responsible for doing the whipping. I have had my encounters with them, and the experience is not pretty. Even in one of Paul’s letters he advocated that the chastening of God is for our own good (Hebrew 12:5-11).

God is a God of love. God is a God of mercy. He is also the God of Judgment. Many are called, but few are chosen. May we be among the chosen few. Ask yourself a question. How faithful are you to the call?

Yinka Vidal, author, Closer Walk With Jesus.