1 Peter 5:1-5 (ESV)
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.  Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock”
Early on when in my first days of a pastor, I turned these two verses into a prayer I read upon entering the office every morning, that the Lord would help me do these things as a pastor, an under shepherd. It is good exhortation for a pastor to take into account. So often we grow impatient with the flocks entrusted to us. We want to do this or that and the congregation isn’t quite as motivated as we are. We want this done, we want that done, some new program or a new building. We try to “cast a vision” etc. nothing happens.
Perhaps we are tempted to see our congregation as a stepping stone, eager to move on to greener pastures we want to use them to make a name for ourselves. Can’t say that that thought hasn’t crossed my mind at times, and I think any pastor who said it has never is probably lying. Some of us are good pastors, but none that good. I read once though, of a pastor, can’t remember the name now, during the reformation. He took a call to a small congregation in a village. There he went faithfully about his duties as a pastor, never took another call, but used the time a small parish in a village afforded him to write some of the greatest theological treatises available. I think of Willhelm Loehe who did the same thing. There are blessings to small congregations. And the sheep ought not be looked at as stepping stones for a pastoral career. That is why I need to pray this prayer every morning, to remember my purpose, to ground me in reality, to check the baser side of me that might otherwise manifest its arrogant self.
Praying these verses has taught me to be patient, and to love the congregation that God has entrusted to me. I have to say, they have been awfully patient for their part too. Some days I dread the thought that God might call me somewhere else. I have ideas as to what might should be done here and there, but I don’t pastor under compulsion, neither do I shepherd with it. Rather I thank God for these sheep that make pasturing so enjoyable.
Not domineering over those in your charge. Being a pastor isn’t about being domineering. There should never be a question as to who has the authority to do this or that. You can lead the flock to water, but woe to the shepherd that begins to beat them to get them to drink. If the sheep aren’t drinking, make sure the water isn’t bad. I absolutely hate it when I see pastors losing patience with the sheep, resorting to a domineering attitude to try get things done that they think are important, but have been unable to convince others of the importance. It seems to me that often this is the result of a pastor losing focus and wanting to wait on tables. The apostles (and it should be noted here that Peter though an apostle thought of himself as a pastor, an elder, which supports the thesis that the pastoral office is a continuance of the apostolic office) thought it enough to dedicate themselves to “prayer and the ministry of the word.” Why is it now that pastoring seems to have lost its focus, and one isn’t thought of as a good pastor unless one successfully administrates huge programs of one sort or another? Why do we let ourselves be distracted by things that in the end won’t matter near as much as the fact that we prayed for our congregations, and faithfully preached to them the gospel while administering the sacraments?