In the previous section of our discussion on Spiritual Headship in the Church, I started talking about the key role that pastors play in leading the Body of Christ – God’s precious people here on earth – in the paths of righteousness. As has been stated many times before, there is one head of the Church. It is Jesus Christ. And out of love for His people, our Lord has given “headship” positions to men, Christ’s men, Christian men… to husbands in their own household… and to pastors and laymen in the congregation of believers.
Continuing on the topic of pastors, thanks be to God that there certainly are faithful members of the clergy, those in the Office of the Holy Ministry, who truly lead the flocks entrusted to their care. And if you have such a pastor, give thanks to God. It is no small blessing. Among all of the influential and important people in your life, central to your life, one finds (or should find) the pastors of your life… as you grow up, grow in your vocations, grow a family and yes, grow old.
- for a pastor who is faithful to God, to the Holy Scriptures and to our Lutheran Confessions.
- for a pastor who is faithful to the sacred vows which he took at the time of his ordination.
- for a pastor who remains a true theologian.
- for a pastor who is faithful to his calling.
- for a pastor who is humble and contrite, fully knowing that he has “feet of clay,” a repentant sinner, willingly acknowledging his weaknesses but never using them as an excuse for not doing what he has been called to do.
- for a pastor who is truly your spiritual father.
- for a pastor who you know “where he stands” and, what is more, you stand right with him!
- for a pastor who loves you more than you will ever know.
- for a pastor who guides you with a strong, but loving hand.
- for a pastor who supports and encourages you.
- for a pastor who is patient with you… but not to a fault.
- for a pastor who will act responsively and decisively to protect you from your own sinful flesh, from the world and the power of the devil. And this includes exhorting, admonishing and disciplining you out of concern for your spiritual welfare.
- for a pastor who is with you “for the long haul” … for however long the Lord would have him shepherd your congregation.
- for a pastor who, as much as is humanly possible, is “there for you” when you need guidance and comfort, when you need to talk with him, when you need him at your side for spiritual support.
- for a pastor who is not swayed by the winds of change, the winds of the world and what happens to be popular whether it be in the world, in religion or our culture.
- for a pastor whose preaching, teaching and counseling is solidly and solely Christ-centered – He who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
- for a pastor who is always pointing you, leading you and bringing you back to the cross.
Thanks be to God that Christ is and always will be the Church’s Head. Where He is not the “head,” one will fail to find a Christian “body”… that is, a Christian individual, a Christian couple, a Christian family or a Christian congregation.
Thanks be to God that there are pastors who are true shepherds, true spiritual leaders, and spiritual heads of their congregations. When they are not, one will find a congregation that is falling and faltering… a congregation that is so vulnerable to the influence and attacks of the evil one.
It would be good for pastors and people to engage in open discussion about spiritual headship in the church as it is provided by the pastor as well as by laymen in the congregation. In fact, that is where we will turn in our next section – to the topic of Christian men and the important headship which they provide in Christ’s Church, in the congregation of the saints here on earth.
The Rev. Mark H. Hein
Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church