Lately, I've been thinking about what determines if someone is really a pastor and I agree with Darin Hufford's statement that "If you're not a relational pastor, you're not pastoring."
The heart of a true pastor is to care for the people of God but instead of it being a natural function of a person's life, being a pastor has become a profession. However, a real pastor doesn't care about having a title because his or her fulfillment is in seeing the needs of the people being met.
In today's church, however, the role of a pastor now involves speaking in front of a group as well as running a church organization. As a result , many people who are called pastor don't actually pastor nor are they gifted as pastors. Although they may be gifted as teachers or organizers, if they're not actively involved in caring for the people, they are not pastoring.
The biggest problem with a pastor being defined as the leader of a local church is that many people who are actually gifted as pastors don't recognize their gifting because they don't lead a church. I believe there are many pastors sitting in pews who lack direction because the title of pastor has been changed into a profession instead of a heart calling. As a result, they feel lost and frustrated because they are not functioning as they were created to function. The truth is that pastors will pastor but many are holding back because they fear overstepping the bounds that have been set up by the institutional church. Leaders in the church should be helping these people to recognize their gifting and encouraging them to begin pastoring but unfortunately this is not always happening.
My purpose in writing this is not to tear down those who presently have the title of pastors. My desire in posting these thoughts is that God's people would be set free to begin moving forward in their calling. God's pastors need to be functioning freely because only then will we see the fulfillment of Ephesians 4:11-16. This would also free church leaders to do whatever they do best whether it's to teach or to organize without the added stress of trying to pastor.