The Pastor as our spiritual first-responder.
- The Pastor Is an Elder
The Bible uses three main words for the pastor: Elder, Shepherd (Pastor) and Overseer. These all appear as synonyms, especially in Acts 20. There Paul gathered the elders of Ephesus and addressed them as pastors and overseers.
In the Lutheran church, our pastors have at least eight years of post-secondary training, so even the younger ones are not so young. Even so, they are backed up by other pastors who are, shall we say, “well seasoned.” When I was young, the expression was that they had “been up the creek and over the hill a few times.”
The point is that by calling His pastors “elders” our Lord tells us that they are people who have compassion born of experience with the troubles, sorrows, and difficulties of life. They are people who have had experience in counseling and leading troubled souls, and they have shown that they hold what their people say in absolute confidence.
So what does this mean for us as church members?
—-First, it means that we feel free to call upon our pastor when we are dealing with those spiritual injuries that afflict us all: Illness, injury, family uproar, emotional turmoil, and the like. Things like this try our faith. They can lead us to question God and to carry guilt or moral uncertainty.
—-Next, it means that we reach out to our pastor when we are lonely. He isn’t going to be everybody’s daily companion, but he is there in the pinch, and can point us to the One who never leaves us or forsakes us.
—-And he can be a sounding board and the voice of experience when we are trying to find our way in the world. Thinking of moving? School? Marriage? Career? The pastors experience on how these things impact our lives can help us find the best path.
Call your elder brother, your pastor. He will answer.