The word "pastor" was never actually in the Bible. It’s not an original biblical word. It’s actually a Latin word that now shows up in our translations. We end up with the word "pastor" based on a Latin tradition of translating the Greek word "poimen." Poimen is the Greek word for "shepherd." "Pastor" orignally in Latin meant "shepherd" also. But "pastor" in North American English generates many concepts that begin to stray away from the original meaning (like CEO, Master-Networker, General-Manager, Motivational-Speaker, Result-Producer, Attendance-Grower, Superman, etc). None of those other things are inherantly wrong… until they become the definition of what "pastor" means.
Consider for a moment that pastors are actually shepherds; shepherds of people. Shepherds who lead people to Jesus and that care for God’s flock, feeding God’s sheep, protecting them, and ultimately laying down their lives for God’s people. I’m concerned that to truly consider our current North American pastors as shepherds would force a reorientation of the structure and missions of many churches and their leaders. Can you imagine calling Pastor Joe by the title "Shepherd Joe". It sounds foreign! "Associate Shepherd of Assimilation" just doesn’t sound appropriate, does it? Nor does "Youth Shepherd." The truth is that we have tended in recent years to avoid the humility and the lowly servant-hood of the shepherding identity of a true pastor. I suspect that we have succumbed largely to the cultural temptation towards high-powered, presidential pastors. And it now seems awkward to call a pastor a shepherd… even though a shepherd is what a true pastor is.
I’m convicted when Ephesians 4:11-12 is retranslated: "It was Jesus who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be shepherds and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…"
I’m willing to experiment for a while. Don’t call me "Pastor Ken" for a bit. Try "Shepherd Ken." It will probably be good for me.
(By the way, if you were a pastor who also operated as a spy for the government, then you could be called Shepherd Spy. Ha! Get it?! Ha!)