By Stephen Phinney

The person is known by the world as the reverend, minister, rector, parson, or preacher.  None of these words clearly communicates the gift of pastoring.  In fact, very few senior pastors today actually have the gift.  Many prophets, leaders, and apostle-types carry on the role of a pastor, but few are blessed with the gift itself.  This is why many “pastors” leave the ministry due to “burnout”.  Pressure is on them to pastor the flock when they are gifted with gifts that don’t support this role.  Those who carry the title of Senior Pastor and are not gifted with this gift need to hire pastor-types to work for them.  If they don’t, the flock will feel neglected and will scatter.

The word “pastor” comes to us from the animal kingdom, particularly sheep raising.  A pastor is someone who works directly for the Shepherd.  He works to minister to the needs of the flock.  The pastor is mainly concerned about one thing: relationship with the Shepherd (Jesus).  He will teach, feed, heal, develop unity, help people find their gifts, and do whatever it takes to help the people follow the Shepherd Jesus.

Contrary to popular opinion, pastors are not always gifted teachers, preachers, and communicators, although there are pastors who have these gifts. Pastors with the gift of pastoring are simply good at pasturing or caring for the needs of the flock.  Whatever it takes, that’s what they do.  They feel the hurts and needs of their people deeply.  They are concerned about what the flock thinks and feels about things, sometimes to a fault.


This gift is obvious in those who really enjoy leading and caring for the needs of others.  They are compelled to encourage other to work together for the Body’s (flock’s) sake.  Influencing others to work together is top priority to them.  Team participation is what keeps the flock together – following the same Shepherd, completing the same tasks.

The Christian blessed with the gift of pastoring has a God given ability to provide long-term care for the Body members within the flock assigned to him or her by God.

The purpose of a pastor is to keep the flock unified with Christ, one another, as well as, the Body of Christ as a whole.

The pastor is not to do everything.  This is one of the biggest liabilities for the pastor.  He often functions as the church janitor, secretary, deacon, teacher, departmental supervisor – the list goes on and on.

When a pastor is walking after the flesh, he/she will have the tendency to become too intense, insensitive, overly concerned, nosey, controlling, and will even carry slight traits of a dictator.  They are hypersensitive to people who are continuously weak, indecisive, immature (lacking in self-discipline, plans, vision, direction, or consistency).  

Pastors can assume too much responsibility.  In fact, they have the tendency to believe (overly or covertly) that they are the Master Shepherd, thinking that the church focuses on their leadership.  Some think that without them, the church wouldn’t be able to go on.  Many pastors fall into the “Senior Pastor” deception.  Many churches today are built on this deception; therefore, the church is built around one man instead of a group of leaders who are operating in their calling and gifting. 

Place of Service:
1.         Teaching pastor
2.         Discipleship coordinator/director
3.         Pastoral leader
4.         Visitation pastor
5.         Supplemental food coordinator
6.         Counselor
7.         Small group leader
8.         Women's ministry leader

Jesus is the Master Shepherd (Senior Pastor) of the church and the elders are to use their gifts to point the people to the Master Shepherd.  The elders with the gift of pastor become the “point man” to get this job done.


The literal Greek translation for the word service is “ministry”.  Since the term ministry typically describes the use of gifting as a whole, many English translations use the word “service” instead of ministry.  Going beyond the American view of ministry, we find ministry to be “one who serves another.”

To look at the literal interpretation of the Greek word diakonos (minister or servant), we find the Bible’s word for deacon.

This gift is not one that necessarily ministers to the heart of people; it is a task-directed gift.  The gift of service is directed primarily toward an institution and secondarily to a person.  The gift of service is to better the ordained institution of God and the Church.  People with this gift have a wide variety of skills and talents and are typically good at doing multiple tasks.  They thrive on seeing others progress because of their efforts.  When others succeed, they succeed. 

These individuals normally like being behind the scenes.  They are uncomfortable with having their “name in lights”.  They are more interested in blessing others so they can better serve the Lord.  They find themselves doing the very things that others do not like doing.

The gift of service is essential for the completion of the Body of Christ.  Other gifts cannot work correctly without this gift.  The service person oftentimes cleans up the “mess” of the prophet, exhorter, teacher etc.  They also spend a great deal of time and energy in getting the “people-to-people” ministers ready to do their jobs.

The service gifted person is a Biblical example of the Good Samaritan.

The Christian blessed with the gift of service helps identify the unmet needs of the Body of Christ and is willing to help meet the goals that the ministry leader establishes.

The purpose of a service person is to assist other Christians in areas they are weak in or areas they are unable to assist themselves. 

Persons with the gift of ministry, or service, often feels abused and taken advantage of by others.  They become selfish, overly committed, weak willed, and overly sensitive.  They can become indecisive and immature: lacking in discipline, planning, vision, or sense of direction, and too intense about the details.

People with this gift need to delegate more, be more assertive, bold, expressive, creative, confident, and learn to hear God regarding their day-to-day tasks.  The service gifted person invariably takes on too much.  Saying “no” can become difficult for them.  

Place of Service:
1.         Deacon
2.         Facilities management
3.         Food services
4.         Nursery
5.         Usher
6.         Office worker
7.         Secretary
8.         Church correspondent
9.         Program assistants

“Burn out” is their greatest threat.  Since humans can only accomplish so much, they are pushed to their limits on a regular basis.  The reason they come back for more “abuse” is many times they find personal significance in “doing”.  Service oriented people need a leader or administrative type to help them become more focused and not over commit themselves.

Scripture  taken from the New American Standard Bible, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.