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  • Shepherding Like Jesus

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POOR IN SPIRIT. BROKEN. HUMBLE. HUNGRY. SYMPATHETIC. PURE. RECONCILING. ENDURING.

These are not the words that describe the typical picture of the modern-day successful American pastor, but these are the words Jesus said should characterize the lives of his twelve disciples. In many circles, the image of what a pastor is or does looks nothing like the picture Jesus paints for his disciples of the character that marks citizens of his kingdom.

Shepherding like Jesus is a call to rebel against much of what our culture understands pastoral leadership to be and return to being the shepherd God has called pastors to be. It’s an invitation to recover the most essential element of pastoral ministry: the character of Christ.

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the author

Andrew Hébert (PhD) is the lead pastor of Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas. He holds degrees from Criswell College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Andrew and his wife, Amy, have four children: Jenna, Austin, Mackenzie, and Brooklyn.

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You don’t deserve to be a pastor. Even though it was years ago, I can remember him whispering it in my ear as clearly as though it happened a moment ago. In the intervening month between when I accepted the call to serve a church in New Mexico as pastor and when I actually began serving, I heard him say it again and again. When I woke up in the morning, I heard it. When I had spare moments in the day, I heard it. When I laid my head on the pillow at night, I heard it.
You’re not qualified. You’re a failure. If people knew who you really are, they would never follow you. You don’t have what it takes.

The enemy plagued me for a month in a severe time of spiritual attack. I could not understand it, so I called one of my mentors and we met for lunch. I asked him what I should do. Should I call the church back and tell them I can’t come? Are all these things Satan is telling me true?

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He gave me some wisdom that I have never forgotten. His advice was simple: “Andrew, when the enemy accuses you, agree with him. Then remind him that it’s not about you.”

You are not qualified. Yes, you’re right. You’re a failure. Yes, you’re right. If people knew who you really are, they would never follow you. Yes, you’re right. You don’t have what it takes. Yes, you’re right.

But Jesus has what it takes! He is eminently qualified. He’s never failed. And when was pastoral ministry about my abilities, my qualifications, my successes, or getting people to follow me?

I need to remind myself frequently that my standing before God and my calling to ministry can never be about my abilities or what I deserve. I’m accepted by God not based on my own merit but only because of the merit of Christ. This is the good news of the gospel: Christ does for me what I cannot do for myself.

But that is also good news for ministry. Ministry requires death to myself and my abilities and dependence on the merits of Christ. Paul said, “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). As long as I am in Christ, I can embrace the accusations of the enemy as accurate and then remind him that although I do not have what it takes, Christ does. On the cross, God judged all of my failures and rebellion by pouring out His wrath on Christ who died on my behalf. Christ’s death on the cross means that I now stand justified before God, not because I deserve it at all, but because of what Christ has done for me.

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