The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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      The term “pastor” stems from a Latin noun meaning “shepherd.” In turn, this term is further derived from the verb pascere when means “to lead to pasture, set to grazing, cause to eat, feed” and, by extension “to tend, guard, protect.”  In this context, a pastor leads, feeds, and even bleeds for his flock in a manner uniquely similar to a shepherd who guides, grazes, and guards his sheep.    
      “Pastor Appreciation Day” is observed on the second Sunday of October while “Clergy Appreciation” is observed throughout the entire month. Against the backdrop of appreciating pastors, the next several editions of “From Daniel’s Den” will highlight a few of the duties, tasks, and responsibilities associated with the pastoral role.
      The primary responsibility of the pastor is to Exposit the word of God. In simple terms, preach. Or, put another way, herald or proclaim the truth of God’s word. In contrast to both a topical and textual approach in which the preacher employs a biblical text to support the selected topic or as a launching pad for addressing a specific point, an expository sermon “exposes” the meaning of the text verse-by-verse. Clarity and understanding of a biblical text by the recipients of the preacher’s exposition is the goal. Then, having comprehended the truth of the text, listeners are well-postured to apply such truth as “doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).     
      In order to exposit scripture properly, exegesis (careful study and analysis of a text that leads to accurate interpretation and conclusions) is mandatory as the preacher studies not only the historical setting, but also the context and grammar of the passage being considered. When a biblical text does not receive necessary attention and quality time by the preacher, however, eisegesis often results as a more subjective and non-analytical approach to sermon preparation is employed. Eisegesis can lead to misinterpretation and the mishandling of a biblical text.  
      Good exegesis always precedes quality preaching. Exegesis, however, is a time-consuming and challenging undertaking. Nonetheless, the conscientious preacher understands that beneficial exposition follows appropriate preparation and thus he heeds the admonition to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).     
      Closely aligned with the pastor’s charge and challenge to Exposit the word of God is the accompanying role and responsibility to Exhort congregants to apply the truth of God’s word to their daily living. Another term for “exhort” is beseech or “ask with urgency and fervor.” For instance, the pastor may strongly encourage the flock toward a particular path, possibility or position. With urgency and fervor, the pastor may urge personal and corporate obedience and allegiance to the Lord. Or, the pastor may earnestly advocate for an action, attitude, or activity. Through exhortation, the pastor may implore the people to magnify the Savior, mobilize for service, meditate on and memorize scripture, and minister to sinners in order to multiply saints.

      According to the great preacher G. Campbell Morgan, “The three essentials for great preaching are truth, clarity, and passion.” Faithful exposition of scripture and fervent exhortation of the sheep are part-and-parcel of these three essentials and require much of the pastor in terms of energy and effort, enthusiasm and eagerness, and empathy and earnestness. As you think about, pray for, and appreciate your pastor everyday (and perhaps especially during October), ask the Lord to grant him faith and fervor, strength and stamina, wit and wisdom, patience and preparedness, energy and enthusiasm, and sincerity and sufficiency to lead and feed his flock.

Dear Heavenly Father, may I be supportive of those who you have called to preach your word. May I encourage them through my actions, attitudes, words, and deeds. Forgive me where I have neglected to appreciate your servants who strive to be expositors of your truth and to exhort folks like me to apply biblical truth to my daily life. Thank you for those who faithfully study to show themselves approved. May I appreciate and honor them and their effort. Amen.