Pastor is more of a job description than a title. It describes the person who acts towards those under his care like a shepherd does to his own sheep. But, just like there are good and bad sheep shepherds, so there are good and bad people pastors.

Ezekiel 34 tells of two different kinds of pastors using the shepherd picture. The concern of the prophet is not for sheep, but for people.

The one kind of pastor is one who takes care of his own physical needs more than he takes care of the spiritual needs of those entrusted to him (Ezekiel 34:2-3). He is more engaged in displaying his own glory than he is engaged with those with genuine spiritual need of strengthening, healing, correction, and restoration (Ezekiel 34:4). As a result there are genuine believers who have no spiritual direction, protection, and nourishment (Ezekiel 34:5-6).

The other kind of pastor is one who loves people—even if he needs to go out and reach them himself (Ezekiel 34:11-12). He has an abundance of spiritual truth and an earnestness of teaching it to those who so desperately need it (Ezekiel 34:13-14). He is a pastor who knows how to bring spiritual rest to the searching and deals with each person based on his own spiritual need (Ezekiel 34:15-16).

The first kind of pastor is evil and will be judged by God. The second kind of pastor is one who extends God’s own care for His saints through pastoral ministry.

Just like the people on Ezekiel’s day had to discern between the kind of spiritual leaders that would be over them in years to come, so we as Christians need to discern between the kinds of pastors that we come across. Love the pastors who imitate Christ in their ministry; stay far away from the pastors who do ministry their way for their own purposes.