7 Marks of a Pastor

In Paul’s summary of his pastoral ministry among the Ephesians, we find seven descriptions of a genuine pastor.

7 Marks of a Pastor

“With upright heart, he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.”
Psalm 78:72

Pastoral ministry or shepherding the flock of God requires both the right person and the right actions. As illustrated by Asaph’s description of David as a shepherd in Psalm 78:71, both the man and the means he employs make a good pastor. Regarding the former, the Bible is clear on what qualifications are required of a man called to pastoral ministry (1 Tim.3:1-7; Tit.1:6-9). Regarding the necessary skills required of a pastor, there are certain criteria that are non-negotiable according to Scripture as it pertains to the fundamental duties of a pastor as an ambassador of Christ, a herald of the gospel, and an overseer of God’s people.

We will outline the Biblical portrait of a pastor by expounding the words of Apostle Paul in Acts 20:18-35. The reason for the choice of this passage is due to its historical context. The passage deals with Paul’s final meeting with the Ephesian elders at Miletus. It records his farewell address to them and contains a summary of his pastoral ministry among them. Final words are by nature never trivial, and most often, they reveal that which is of primary importance to the speaker. Thus Paul’s final exhortation to the Ephesian elders reveals his own priorities in pastoral ministry. They thus sketch a New Testament pastor as seen in the ministry of Paul.

As mentioned earlier, the qualifications to be met by anyone called to the pastoral ministry are listed by Paul in his pastoral epistles. However, unlike those lists, in Acts 20:18-35, we find Paul describing these same qualities in action. In concrete illustrations, we thus have a portrait of what pastoral ministry actually looked like for Paul. In Paul’s summary of his pastoral ministry among the Ephesians, we find seven descriptions of a genuine pastor.

Let us look at these seven marks of a pastor.

1. Model Lifestyle (v.18)

Paul begins his address to the Ephesian elders by expressing his confidence in the knowledge of his hearers regarding his lifestyle among them. He says, “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia.” Paul goes on to explain what this lifestyle entailed in the following verses. However, it is worthwhile noting here the confidence he had concerning his lifestyle among them. He knew he lived a blameless life. He knew he lived an exemplary life, one where he was never hesitant to call people to imitate him. Thus the first insight we draw from Paul is that a pastor is always an example to his people and his conduct is worthy of imitation by his people.

In this opening statement of Paul’s address, we find five aspects of Paul’s pastoral ministry as setting an example before his people. First of all, he says “You yourselves know,” speaking of his confidence in their knowledge of his exemplary lifestyle. His way of living for Christ was so evident that he had no doubts regarding his witness before them. It is this confidence that gives him the assurance that he has done his ministry faithfully. Writing to Corinthians, Paul even says that his boasting in ministry is this witness of his conscience that his behavior especially towards the church was one in accordance with godliness and grace (2 Cor. 1:12). Having a clear conscience that one has acted in godly sincerity and holiness in one’s ministry is an asset for the pastor. It helps him to persevere in his ministry with the assurance of God being with him.

Secondly, Paul says, “how I lived.” It is noteworthy that Paul does not say, how I preached or conducted worship services, but rather he uses the broader category of living. Sure enough, Paul does not mean to eliminate his preaching or the way he conducted worship services, but it is not just in these ministerial domains that he exhibited his exemplary lifestyle. He was not just a pulpit Christian fervent in preaching truths which hardly made any change in his life outside the pulpit. The gospel truths so penetrated the whole fabric of his being that Paul was a model to the Ephesians, in his whole lifestyle. A pastor thus should be an example in all areas, showing his people how the gospel radically transforms every area of one’s life. Anything short of this will only result in the preacher being a hypocrite. That is why when Paul wrote to Timothy, he warns him first to guard his life and then his doctrine (I Tim. 4:16). Not because doctrine is secondary, but as Paul says, we must make sure that we are first of all being saved and then make others saved through our preaching. Even in this passage, Paul goes on to make this exhortation to the Ephesian elders, to first watch over themselves and then the church (Acts 20:28).

Thirdly, Paul says, “among you.” In other words, Paul manifested his gospel-transformed lifestyle in their midst by living with them as one among them. He was thus a pastor who moved among his sheep. Paul’s understanding of pastoral ministry was that of parenting the church, not lording over them. He uses such metaphors in his epistles to his churches. To the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians, he uses the language of being their spiritual father (1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Thess. 2:11). He also uses the language of being gentle as a mother in his epistle to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 2:7). As parenting cannot be done by being aloof, a pastoral ministry also cannot be done from a distance. The gospel-aroma of the life of the pastor must permeate the community he is serving. Just like the Divine Word tabernacled amongst His people (Jn 1:14), the pastor in likewise manner must be found among his people.

Fourthly, Paul says, “the whole time,” speaking of his perseverance. It is one thing to start well and quite another thing to end well. Moreover, in the final analysis, it pays little to know whether someone started really well or not; all that matters is they finish well. It is true in one’s own personal following of Christ, it is equally true in this matter of ministry. Paul was not just a pastor who started well, but one who kept his testimony well into the last day among his people. He says confidently that the whole time he was with them, he lived a model life for them to emulate. This is why in 1 Timothy 4:16, where Paul tells Timothy to watch his life and doctrine closely, he also commands him to persevere in doing so. It is only persistent watching of one’s life and doctrine that will save one from being a hypocrite and also lead one’s hearer to be saved. So the pastor ought not to look to his past victories, the glories of yesteryears, and be content, but rather he should be conscious of the battle to be waged every day. To be free from being a hypocrite and to let the gospel transform him more every day must be his daily business. It is only by watching over ourselves every day that we will finish in the end.

Finally, Paul says, “from the first day that I set foot in Asia.” It is highly important for those who are engaged in ministry to begin their witness from the very first day. From the first day, the minister ought to display his lifestyle and make clear his convictions, his priorities, and his purpose. Especially in church planting ministry, as Paul was engaged in, it is critical that we make our stand clear from day one. Appealing to dubious strategies which conceal one’s real motive in being in a place of ministry, might reap short-term gain but will inevitably result in long-term loss. Paul was a man of the gospel from the very first day of his ministry in Asia. There was no difference between the first day and the last day, as to the essence of his lifestyle. Such straightforwardness and honesty are much wanted in ministers of the gospel.

Thus Paul was an example to his people by living a gospel-transformed life amongst them from the very first day to the last.

2. Humble Sacrificial Service (v.19)

Paul now goes on to unfold what it means for a pastor to be an example to his people. The first thing he notes is his humility before the Lord. He says in verse 19 how  he served “the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews.”  Paul displayed his humility before the Lord by serving the church despite the many trials he had to face. In other words, Paul was so committed to the Ephesians that he was willing to pay any cost to serve them. Thus the second lesson we learn from Paul’s pastoral ministry is that a true pastor humbles himself before God by accepting all trials sovereignly brought by God and remains faithful in his service to his people.

There is no greater sign of one’s humility than serving God’s people while paying a painful price for oneself. Paul himself, while teaching humility to the Philippians draws them to the condescension of the divine Son of God (Phil. 2:5-8). The divine condescension was for the Son of God to become a servant and obey God in the service of God’s people. Even Jesus taught the same truth to His disciples in John 13:14-15, where He washes their feet and tells them to follow His example. Thus throughout the Bible, it can be seen that humility is best seen in one’s service to God’s people. Ministry with Jesus inevitably involves such condescension and also severe trials. To persevere in one’s service despite the trials is a sure sign of one’s deep humility before God.

Whereas, unwillingness to pay the price in the service of God’s people is a sure sign of pride. It is pride, as it is unwilling to trust in God who sovereignly orchestrates all of life. Such unwillingness is also pride, as it is opposed to suffering for God. Suffering for God inevitably entails counting His Name and His people more dear than oneself. Thus a person who keeps on shifting his ministry because it is costing him to endure in one can never be a pastor.  A pastor might move out of his ministry, like Paul eventually did move from Ephesus, but only due to divine compulsion and never due to trials.

Paul thus was an example to the Ephesians, first of all in his humility to suffer for their sake. He showed them how one should not quit despite being persecuted for one’s proclamation of truth. He showed them how he endured through much trials, sure enough with much tears, but with much steadfastness for the sake of Christ. He thus encouraged them to be faithful in their profession of Christ, even by dying if need be, and at no point to beat the retreat.  

3. Doctrinally Faithful Shepherd (v.20,26,27,31)

Paul now goes on to elaborate on the faithfulness displayed in his ministry to the Ephesians. In verse 20, he says he, “did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house.” Here Paul deals with his faithfulness in his preaching and teaching ministry. He is confident that his preaching was both wholesome and beneficial to his people. It was wholesome as he did not shrink the message committed to his charge. It was beneficial, as it was profitable in the edification of his hearers. Thus Paul not only humbled himself and remained in Ephesus despite the trials, but he was also diligent in preaching and teaching his people. Thus the third mark of a genuine pastor we see in Paul is that a true pastor is a faithful herald and teacher of the word of God, who labors, both publicly and privately, for the edification of his people.

In the ministry of the word, a pastor is then faithful, first of all, by being a guardian of the doctrinal treasure committed to his trust. He does not just preach some of the truths entrusted to him, but all of them. To guard doctrine is not only to fight against the perversion of it but also to not conceal it from public consumption. Paul was a faithful pastor in that he did not shrink any portion of the message entrusted to him and never hesitated to declare “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Paul was so confident of his faithfulness in his preaching that he says, he is innocent of the blood of all of his people (Acts20:26). This is a clear allusion to Ezekiel 3:18-20, and Paul uses it to say he has discharged all his duties as a pastor, specifically that of declaring the whole counsel of God.

A pastor is faithful in the ministry of the word, secondly, by giving utmost consideration to the edification of his hearers. When numerical strength, honor before the world, etc. are our aim in preaching, we would never be committed to preaching the whole word, but would rather resort to watering down the gospel, endorsing human wisdom, and even bringing elements from the entertainment industry. However, if one sets edification of the saints as one’s goal in preaching, then one cannot help but humbly depend on the Scriptures. For they alone are powerful and sufficient to build up the saints in Christ. God has so ordained that the church is edified the most when it gathers together and listens to the word of God preached by a faithful shepherd. Paul, in fact, gives the most serious and solemn charge in all of the Bible when he exhorts Timothy to be faithful in the preaching of the word (2 Tim. 4:1-2). This is why most evangelicals of the bygone age were thoroughly convinced of the primacy of preaching over all other aspects of public worship.

Finally, a pastor is faithful in the ministry of the word, when he labors not just publicly but also privately to individual Christians under his care. When Christ calls one to be a shepherd, He calls him to not just preach Sunday sermons, but to watch over, shepherd, and build up individual souls under his care.  Private ministry is aimed at meeting the individuals’ specific needs. It involves teaching the ignorant, counseling the broken-hearted, warning the backslider, reproving the rebellious, and a whole host of such vital ministries of the word, which if neglected would surely be a stumbling block for the growth of the church. If the pastor preaches gospel truths only in the pulpit and never applies it to specific life situations of his people through his private teachings and admonitions, then surely the church would be filled with arrogant people who think they know it all. Much of the legalism in certain conservative Christian denominations is precisely due to a lack of private ministry of the pastor. However, Paul visited homes himself and ministered to each of them individually. He says for three years, “he did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears” (Acts 20:31).  It is again worthwhile to note that evangelicals of the bygone age, especially those of the Puritan heritage, considered pastoral visitation and catechizing a vital part of being a pastor. Much of their church growth in terms of the quality and depth of the profession of faith found among their people can be attributed to their private ministry of the word.

Paul was thus an example to his people by diligently laboring in his preaching and teaching ministry, both in public and private. He showed them that God’s message in its entirety is beneficial to them and there needs to be no omission of any part or doctrine thereof.

4. Gospel-centered Preacher (v.21)

Paul moves on to recite a gist of his preaching and says how he preached this same message to all people. For he says in verse 21, that he testified, “both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul was thus so committed to the gospel entrusted to him that he preached it to all people despite their ethnic differences. Thus we note our fourth mark of a faithful pastor, which is that the content of his preaching is not dictated by his audience, but is tethered to the gospel.

Paul specifically deals with his resolution to preaching nothing but the gospel in his first epistle to the Corinthians. There he does mention, how the Jews and the Greeks demand miraculous signs and human wisdom respectively, however, he preaches Christ crucified. The rationale behind this resolution of Paul is twofold. Firstly, Paul knew that despite their cultural differences, both Jews and Greeks are fallen sinners in need of a mighty savior (Rom. 3:9). He knew in light of the testimony of the word of God, that the ultimate need of both Jews and Greeks is not going to be met by miraculous signs or human wisdom, but by Christ alone. Secondly, Paul knew that the gospel is powerful enough to save any – be it Jew or Greek. He knew very well, that those whom God calls shall come to see the gospel, not as a stumbling block or as foolishness, but rather as the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:23-24). In other words, he trusted entirely in the power of the Spirit, which God dispenses with the preaching of the gospel to change the natural disposition of his audience, in order to empower them to embrace the gospel. Thus as a preacher, he enjoyed true liberty to preach the gospel and not be a slave merely catering to the felt needs of his hearers.

A true pastor then should be one who is thoroughly evangelical in his preaching. In other words, the Evangel (the gospel) of God profoundly shapes his preaching ministry. Whether to sinners or saints, his message is essentially the same: the sufficiency and efficacy of the person and work of Christ as revealed in His gospel, and calling people to live their lives trusting this gospel. He is relentless in orienting all his theology, life, and ministry to the truths of the gospel. Only in such a gospel-centered ministry can we expect the powerful working of the Spirit in the conversion of sinners and the building up of saints.

In this verse, Paul also sums up his evangelical ministry as consisting of two main points, namely repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. It is worth noting how repentance and faith are jointly stated by Paul. To separate them is a fatal error. Revivalistic movements have sometimes shown a tendency to emphasize repentance over faith leading to the extreme of moralism. They thus alter the definition of both biblical repentance and even the biblical gospel. Popular evangelicalism, sometimes go to the other extreme and banks it all on faith with no message on sin or repentance. Faith, then, is a kind of mere wishful thinking, enabling one to grab all kinds of material gain. For the true gospel to be preached as Paul did, both repentance and faith are to be held together. Repentance with no view of turning to Christ’s sufficiency to save is mere moral reformation. Faith with no conviction of one’s sin and need for Christ as a savior is mere presumption. However, Paul preached both, the need to repent and the need to believe in Christ.

As noted earlier, Paul was a preacher committed to the aim of edifying his hearers. If that be the case and as found here, the content of his message was repentance and faith, then it is logically deducible for us to say that the church is edified, when it hears the proclamation and application of the gospel message of repentance to God and faith in Christ. Pastors would do well noting this point, that they are not to invent clever new ways of coming up with amusing, inspiring, and relevant messages to keep the people in their church happy. Rather they are to expound every text to bring out the light of the gospel in them. Every text, every doctrine, and every theme in the Bible expounded to bring the glory of Christ in them. Every sin, every need, every pain, and every problem dealt in light of the gospel. This will edify the saint, feed the lamb, and strengthen the Lord’s soldier.

Thus Paul as a pastor, was an example to his people, in that he was radically committed to the centrality and sufficiency of the gospel message entrusted to him. He showed his people that God’s message is all about what God did for us in the Person of Jesus Christ and our necessary response of turning from sin and trusting in Christ.

5. Christ-saturated Worldview (v.24)

After having told the Ephesian elders of his evangelical ministry, Paul tells them how persecution is awaiting him at all places. However, he quickly reminds them of his purpose in life. He says,  “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Here we have the purpose statement of Paul. He says his life is not dear to him unless he succeeds in finishing his course and ministry from God. In other words, God’s calling in his life – both as a Christian and as a minister of God - profoundly shaped his understanding of his purpose in life. There we see our fifth mark of a true pastor, that he is one who sees all of life as meaningful only in the fulfillment of God’s calling in his life.

Paul made the same statement in a succinct manner, when he wrote to the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil.1:21). In Greek the copula is absent and therefore the verse reads literally, ‘for to me, to continually live Christ.’ In other words, the chief end of Paul’s existence was Christ. Christ was everything and all to Paul. Thus the calling of God in his life to fellowship with and serve the Son of God so shaped his worldview that his priorities in life were radically transformed. Here we thus have an explanation as to why Paul did all we saw earlier – of humbling himself, enduring trials, preaching the whole counsel in gospel light to Jews and Greeks - it is all because life to Paul is Christ and Christ alone. If the grace of God in Christ is not testified, then life is a waste to Paul.

A true pastor must then be a man whose worldview has been so shaped by the gospel that he derives his sole purpose of existence from the calling of God in his life, both as a Christian and as a minister. He, therefore, does his ministry not as a mere profession for earning his livelihood. He rather does his ministry as fulfilling his very purpose for his life on earth. Such a vision of ministry enables the pastor in two ways. Firstly, it makes him approach his ministry with sobriety and blood-earnestness. There is nothing trivial or frivolous to be found in his ministry. He settles for nothing mediocre. He labors hard in the vineyard of Christ with a willing and joyful heart. He is eager to please Christ and Christ alone. Secondly, it enables him to suffer for Christ gladly. He who sees life as all about heralding the gospel of Christ is willing to pay any price to fulfill his life’s purpose.

Paul was thus an example to his people in that he faithfully served them in spite of all trials because Christ was life to him. He showed them that to live is to fulfill God’s calling in our life – of communing with Christ and serving Him in the witnessing of His gospel.

6. Man of faith in God and His word (v.32)

In his address to the Ephesian elders, Paul then breaks the news about how he will never see them again, and that they are to keep watch over themselves and the churches under their care. He also tells them that even from their own group, false preachers will arise and twist the truths. However, he does not stop on that pessimistic note. He ends his word to them by commending them to God and His word, which he says, “is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” There we see our next mark of a true pastor that his ultimate trust concerning his ministry is in God and His chosen instrument of the word of God. Despite the many fears concerning their future, Paul expresses his deep trust in God who is well able to keep them faithful unto the end. It is of utmost importance that a pastor is knowledgeable of God’s power to keep His people through His word. Here it is to be borne in mind that this knowledge so needed for a pastor is experiential in nature and not merely notional. Paul also makes it explicit here that the means through which God saves and builds His people is His word. Hence it is implied that the object of this knowledge so needed by a pastor is an experiential knowledge of the efficacy and sufficiency of the word of God.

First of all, then, the pastor must have an experiential knowledge of the efficacy of the word of God. In his own personal pilgrimage, he should have regular experiences of the power of the word to save and to build him as a Christian. For this, he must be a studious and sincere student of the word of God. Daily praying, reading, meditating, and believing the word must be his delight. Only by letting the word permeate one’s life would one enjoy the life-giving power of the word. Since the power of the Spirit is dispensed by God through His word, the pastor must be a Christian who constantly experiences the Spirit’s power to sanctify and strengthen him. Confidence in the Scriptures grows with one’s personal experience of the power of the word. With every victory wrought by the Spirit through the word in one’s life, comes renewed confidence in the truth that the word of God is efficacious enough to fulfill all of God’s purposes. From this confidence is birthed a sweet trust which enables one to entrust others to the word of God. A pastor will inevitably find himself in circumstances where he is forced to entrust his people to God and His word. That faith in God to be displayed by the pastor would not come unless one has a personal experience of the faithful efficacy of the word of God. Paul, therefore, tells Timothy to persevere in building his ministry on the word of God alone, as he himself has experienced the power of the word from his infancy (2 Timothy 3:15).

Secondly, the pastor must be a Christian having an experiential knowledge of the sufficiency of the word of God. To have an experiential knowledge of the sufficiency of the word is to know how the scriptures are sufficient in and of themselves to be the divine means of God’s work in us. It is to know how God saves and builds one, only through the Scriptures. Scripture alone is the only divine special revelation given to man to know God and be saved. Knowing this sufficiency experientially enables one to commend others to the Scriptures alone. Hence when Paul tells Timothy on persevering in true apostolic and Biblical ministry, he commends him to know the sufficiency of the Scriptures to make the man of God equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16).

If one comes to a place of having deep, spiritual conviction of these truths concerning the Scriptures, then one can receive the consolation of the following truths and entrust one’s ministry to God. First of all, the Scriptures declare God is sovereign (Gen.50:20, 2 Chron.20:6, Ps.115:3, Prov.16:9, Isa.46:8-11, Mat.10:29-30; Acts.4:27-28, Matt.11:27, Rom.8:28, Eph.1:11-12). In other words, He is the monarch who rules over all of His creation. He providentially orchestrates all events in time to make His purposes fulfilled. Thus we can be comforted to know that God is in control over all creatures and circumstances and that He will work out His good for us in all things (Rom. 8:28). Thus the pastor can entrust his people – their care, protection, nurture, and preservation to God’s hands. Secondly, the word says clearly that Jesus Christ is the builder of the church (Matt. 16:18). It is His ministry to save, build, and preserve His people. It is He who has all authority over heaven and earth that has also issued the great commission to His church. Thus the pastor can entrust his people to God, for the blood of Jesus shall reap all of its rewards, and shall keep every single one of them till the end (Jn. 6:37-40;10:28-29). Thirdly, the word says the Spirit of God is at work amongst His people (Eph. 1:13). From divine illumination on the gospel, to regeneration, to sanctification, to comfort, to supernatural ministry gifts, to preservation till the end, the word declares it all as the diverse workings of the Holy Spirit on God’s people. Thus the pastor can entrust his people to God, for the Spirit of God is faithful and efficacious to work in His people through the word and ordinances instituted by Christ.

Paul was a pastor who knew very well that he was an under-shepherd tending God’s flock and that the great Shepherd’s blood is well able to equip the church with everything good for doing His will (Hebrews 13:20-21). Thus the ultimate confidence of Paul concerning the growth and preservation of the church was in God Himself.

7. Freedom from the Love of Money (v.33-35)

Paul ends his address to the Ephesian elders by making note of how he was free from covetousness. Covetousness is an evil that can surely destroy one’s ministry. Paul here says how he was free from all forms of covetousness and moreover, he was someone who worked hard to take care of others. There we have the final mark of a true pastor from this passage, that he is free from the love of personal profit – be it money or any form of wealth - but is one who like Christ is committed to giving than receiving.

In this matter of covetousness, the testimony of the Scriptures is crystal clear. From the tenth commandment in the Decalogue to the teachings of Jesus, to the writings of the Apostles, the word of God condemns all forms of covetousness. Moreover, in Pauline writings, it is mostly dealt in the context of false preachers. Paul gives special emphasis in showing how preachers who are covetous invariably preach false doctrines (1Tim. 6:3-5; Tit. 1:11). This is why a pastor should constantly watch over his heart to see if any covetousness is there. For if he lets the splendor of wealth and earthly riches fill his heart and mind, then his convictions and priorities in ministry would also be greatly twisted by this love of money. As Jesus said in Luke 16:13, he will then start loving money and hate God. He will thus be serving money rather than God in his ministry.

It is worth noting in light of the false “prosperity gospel” movement that the true Jesus of the Bible was one who strongly condemned the love of money. His teachings cannot be clearer than they are in the gospels. Jesus spoke clearly that life is not found in the abundance of one’s possessions (Lk. 12:15), that one can only serve either God or money, never both (Lk. 16:13), that being man-centered and not God-centered is satanic (Matt. 16:23-26), that worrying after earthly needs is what the pagans do whereas true believers seek God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:30), that eternal life is found only in knowing God through Himself (Jn. 17:3) and that one is to treasure God more than any earthly treasure leading one to be liberal and charitable with earthly wealth (Matt. 6:19-24;19:21).

Paul as a disciple of Christ was one who exemplified all these teachings of the Lord. Regarding material needs, he says, “if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content”(1 Tim. 6:8). Paul would be content if he has just food and clothing, nothing more. Just the bare necessities to sustain one’s physical life on this earth are enough for Paul to be content regarding material needs. The world around us however does not want to be content with mere food and clothing. Our craving for material needs has no end. A pastor, however, like Paul must be content to just have food and clothing. Not that having a shelter or some extra blessings in life would be sinful to possess, but they are not necessary for Paul to have contentment. His great goal in life, as shown earlier, was to testify Christ, and not die as a proud rich man. For him, the great gospel truth that in Christ, he has died to this world and has been raised with Christ to heaven was a reality in which he worked out his whole life on this earth.

Some might object that this is all pious talk to justify slothfulness. Though such kind of abuse of this truth is possible, Paul certainly was one who labored hard, supplied for himself and even for his co-laborers by his own work. A true pastor then, like Paul, must not be a stranger to hard work. He must labor hard in prayer and study of the word, and if need be, even in physical labor, all for the blessing of the church. He does not see the church as a people he uses for his own profit, whether for gaining honor, or money, or clothing. Rather, he sees the church as the people of God whose spiritual profit is his all-consuming concern and burden. The Prophet Samuel in the Old Testament (1 Sam. 12:3-4) and Paul in the New Testament (Acts 20:33-35) testify in like manner their freedom from all kinds of covetousness in their ministry. Thus a thoroughly biblical ministry would have to have this mark of freedom from covetousness.

Paul, was thus an example to his people, in that he showed his people, that through the gospel, we are already rich in things we ought to be rich: the knowledge of God and His Son Jesus Christ. Being thus rich in eternal things, our hearts are free to be charitable with earthly things.

So in Paul’s summary of his pastoral ministry among the Ephesians, we found seven descriptions of a genuine pastor, which are :

  1. A pastor is an example to his people (v.18).
  2. A pastor humbles himself before the Lord, by remaining faithful in his service to his people, accepting all trials he has to face in being their servant (v.19).
  3. A pastor never shrinks the message of God, but he faithfully proclaims the whole counsel of God publicly and privately for the benefit of God’s people (v.20,26,27,31).
  4. A pastor does not show partiality by changing his message based on the crowd (v.21).
  5. A pastor has a strong sense of God's calling in his life that he does not consider his life worthy, apart from finishing his ministry of testifying to the gospel of God's grace (v.24).
  6. A pastor puts his ultimate trust in God and His word to save and build his people (v.32).
  7. A pastor works hard to help the weak and never covets anything from anyone - honor, money, or clothing; but he always proclaims with his life and service that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive' (v.33-35).