Pastor or Pope? An Article on Pastoral Abuse

The subject at hand is extremely controversial, and the ramifications of such an article will no doubt cause me open contempt, disrespect, and possibly the label of ‘heretic.’ Despite this, I cannot stay silent. It is necessary, yea vital, to present readers with a biblical perspective on the role and authority of the Pastor, especially in light of an increase in what can only be described as pastoral  abuse.  

The Roman Catholic religion has long been known for its ability to manipulate its members through fear and threats, allowing those in leadership to effectively control the people and their commitment to the cause. The power associated with the pope is beyond belief. Masses submit to his every wish, convinced that to disobey or even disagree, is to fight against God Himself. A similar ploy has entered into some conservative churches of our land. In these settings, the pastor will exalt himself to a place of power and inerrancy, demanding the allegiance of his people instead of turning their hearts toward God and promoting His sovereignty and authority.

All Men are Sinners

It does not matter how ‘good’ your pastor or church leadership may appear; all have sinned. There are pastors today who act as if they have reached the state of sinless perfection, and therefore represent the perfect example of holiness and wisdom. This is simply not true.

The shepherd does not gain some special entrance into the presence of God; He comes before the same throne of grace as all believers, and through the same person – Jesus Christ. He may preach from an elevated platform on Sunday but that is not an indication of spiritual superiority in God’s hierarchy. Pastors who seek the praise and accolades of men are not fit to fulfil the shepherd’s role. Surely a man who is perpetually broken over his sin and who has an understanding of the holiness of God, is the only suitable candidate for leading and shepherding God’s people.

‘…there is none that doeth good, no, not one.’ Psalm 14:3

‘Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?’ Prov.20:9

‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’ 1 John 1:8

The Church is Christ’s

‘…Christ is the head of the church: and is the Saviour of the body.’ Ephesians 5:23

 ‘And He [Christ] is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church…’ Colossians 1:17-18

‘And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church.’ Ephesians 1:22

If Scriptures were not so clear on this subject, I might be confused about who has the ultimate ownership and rule of the church. The way some pastors enthrone themselves, establishing non-biblical standards, and assuming the role of ‘Pope for the people,’ is appalling, and is in total opposition to the clearly outlined role of the shepherd in the Bible. To assume a role of authority in  Christ’s church that has not been given by God, is theft. If I instruct my congregation to obey standards and practices that God has not commanded, I become the ‘master of God’s people,’ and in turn teach them to follow me instead of the Lord.

How many congregations in our land are ruled by a dictatorial, ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ pastor instead of Christ and His Word being the final authorities in their lives?

It is the Message, not the Man

‘Remember them that have the rule over you, who  have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.’ Hebrews 13:7

Commenting on the above verse, John Gill writes: “Christ’s church is a kingdom, and He is King in it; pastors of churches are subordinate governors; who rule well when they rule not in an arbitrary way, according to their own wills, but according to the laws of Christ, with all faithfulness, prudence and diligence.”

 The pastor, like you and I, is a man saved by grace. He has not been imbued with some special ability (albeit there are gifts dispensed by the Holy Spirit which differ – Romans 12:6), nor does he have some supernatural power over men which is of his own energy.

The shepherd finds his authority solely in the Word of God. His counselling and preaching must be grounded in the Scriptures if he is to serve in the way that God has called him to. The pastor is a man who is to be given to prayer and the studying of the Word. I know pastors who busy themselves with all the tangible and temporal aspects of church life when they ought to be focusing on the spiritual and eternal matters at hand. The  first and most important job of the faithful shepherd is to preach the Word . He is to passionately pursue God, thereby leaving an example for his people. The following ought to form the pastor’s chief ambition and desire:

‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ John 3:30

‘For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ Philippians 1:21

The Pastor will fail you

Nobody is exempt from the effects of sin. One of the great dilemmas in church today is the expectation on the pastor to do everything right. If the congregation is not careful to remember that the shepherd is only a man, they will inevitably and subconsciously elevate him to a place of  ‘perfection.’ This will be the great downfall of that church and will result in heartache and discouragement when it is found out that the pastor cannot meet those impossible expectations. This does not give license to the pastor to live as he pleases, but it does remove from him the unattainable standard of perfection. A humble and honest leader will acknowledge his own inability to perform his God given role, and will openly admit that he is the chief of sinners,  and unworthy of such a responsibility.

‘It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.’ Psalm 118:8

‘Thus saith the Lord; cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.’ Jeremiah 17:5

 ‘…the Lord thy God…..He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6


Scripture teaches that God desires a pastor to lead by example, nurturing and caring for his people. When the time comes for him to discipline, confront and challenge, his only authority is  the Word of God, and only when as it is applied correctly. 
May God give us pastors who love Christ supremely, act with honesty, humility and integrity, lead by example, and find the basis of all preaching, teaching and counselling  in the pages of Scripture.

The Pastor

The pastor is a man at best;

Prone to sin, and oft distressed.

Juggling tasks of wider scope;

Strength from God- his only hope.


The pastor leads his precious flock;

Scripture’s treasures to unlock.

Often not from wealthy stock;

Sermons governed by the clock.


The pastor has a lonely trade;

Overworked and underpaid.

Church expectations when they hire-

Found alone in the Messiah.


The pastor knows a deeper pain;

The burdens are a constant strain.

A shepherd, leader, mentor, mate;

A godly life to demonstrate.


The pastor has a family too-

A wife to lead in love that’s true.

Called to manage household well;

Through times of ease or troubled spell.


The pastor must discern what’s right;

Whilst guarding soul with gospel light.

In ceaseless battle he does fight;

The Celestial City within sight.


The pastor is engaged in prayer;

Sunday’s sermon to prepare.

Distracted time from reading chair;

The needs of others everywhere.


The pastor will be judged one day-

His life, the church, and every way.

Before the Lord He’ll give account;

This weighty truth- do not discount!


The pastor can dejected be;

Betrayed and blamed unlawfully.

In grace and love he must respond;

The faults and sin he looks beyond.


The pastor has such little rest;

Personal struggles oft suppressed.

Holidays and time aside;

By circumstances are denied.


The pastor loves you very much;

And does his best to stay in touch.

He walks with you through grief and mirth;

He has the hardest job on earth!


By Daniel Kriss, June 12, 2018

(Meditations on the Ministry)


The Preacher’s Privilege


The antique desk is beckoning;

Old Saxon wood-fire is crackling;

A charm of magpies warbling;

Sounds and scenes converging.


Gum tree leaves are swaying;

Darkened sky is threatening;

The percolator is brewing;

Preacher’s mind awakening.



Sheepskin hide: a kneeling post;

Guidance from the Holy Ghost.

The lamp is lit, the quill is wet;

Heart engaged, and mind is set.


The gilded pages now are read;

With rays of light, the soul is fed.

Conviction falls like drops of rain;

Cleansing given from every stain.


Night about begins to fall;

Noise abates; birds’ final call.

The manuscript is now compiled;

Words and phrases wisely styled.


The paperwork is now complete;

Pow’r required from mercy seat.

Now deep into the fearsome night

The devil comes to pick a fight.


Sleep evades; The mind beset;

The weary heart tries not to fret.

Preacher strives in vain to rest;

Instead, through prayer, is truly blessed.



Sunday morning comes at last!

The battle of the night has passed.

The time has come to pray and sing;

To preach, to lead in worshipping.


From peaceful scenes to stirring nights;

From spiritual slopes to lofty heights;

The long and lonesome pilgrimage;

This is the preachers privilege.


By Pastor Daniel Kriss (September 7, 2019)

Contemplating the many moods, tones, and scenes surrounding the preacher’s study of God’s Word.

Shepherd-ology: An Interactive Study of God as our Shepherd


  • It has been a HUGE week for me.
  • I have experienced immense attack both physically and spiritually.
  • I’m exhausted and have felt like a failure.

As always, God broke through these feelings and brought truth to light.

Theology is so important in our lives because even when we are down, the truth about God lives within and is stirred up by the Spirit of God.

One truth that really helped me relates to God as our shepherd.

This morning I would like us to take some time to understand this truth in a little more detail. This will be an interactive study on God as our shepherd. We will trace this truth through the Scriptures before we partake of communion together.

I’m sure we are somewhat familiar with Psalm 23 which is the most exhaustive passage on this subject, and we will look at that as part of this study.

I have entitled this little study: “Shepherd-ology”

DISCUSSION: Describe a Shepherd in Bible Times

The dress of shepherd lad was a simple tunic of cotton that was girded around his body by a leathern girdle, and his outer garment, called aba, was often of camel’s hair, like that of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:4). The aba kept the boy warm, was able to shed the rain, and at night was used as a blanket in which to wrap himself.

This is a bag made of dried skin. When he left home to go and tend the sheep, his mother would put into it some bread, cheese, dried fruit, and probably some olives. It was into this bag that David placed the five smooth stones when he went to battle with the giant Goliath (1Sam. 17:40).

It was often made of oak wood and had a knob on the end of it. Into this knob nails were sometimes driven so as to make a better weapon. It was very useful for protection, and no shepherd would be without it. This was the rod that David used when protecting his sheep from wild animals (1Sam. 17:34-36). He mentions both the rod and the staff in his Shepherd Psalm (Psa. 23:4).

Interesting: The sceptre, which the ancient kings of the East usually had with them, had its origin in the shepherd’s rod. Kings were considered to be shepherds of their people. Thus, the sceptre, or rod, of the king became a symbol of protection, power, and authority.

David mentions the staff along with the rod in his Shepherd Psalm (Psa. 23:4.). It is a stick five or six feet long and sometimes but not always has a crook at the end of it. It was used like Western men would use a cane or walking stick. It is useful in handling the sheep, and also for protection.

It was a simple device, being composed of two strings of sinew, rope, or leather, and a receptacle of leather to receive the stone. It was swung a time or two around the head and then was discharged by letting go one of the strings. The shepherd, in addition to using his sling against wild animals or robbers, found it very handy in directing the sheep. A stone could be dropped close to a sheep that was lagging behind and startle it into coming along with the rest of the flock. Or if one would get away in another direction, then a stone would be slung so as to drop just beyond the straying sheep, and thus bring him back. It was the shepherd’s sling that young David used in slaying the giant Goliath (1Sam. 17:40-49).

A dual-piped flute of reed was generally carried by the shepherd. It is true that minor strains of music come from this flute, but the heart of the shepherd was stirred, and the sheep of the flock were refreshed by the invigorating music that came from this simple instrument. There can be little question, but that David used such an instrument when he was with his flock, in the same way the shepherd lads have done for centuries around Bethlehem.

Care of sick or wounded sheep. The shepherd is always on the lookout for members of his flock that need personal attention. Sometimes a lamb suffers from the rays of the sun, or its body may have been badly scratched by some thornbush. The most common remedy he uses with these sheep is olive oil, a supply of which he carries in a ram’s horn Perhaps David was thinking of such an experience when he wrote of the LORD, “You anoint my head with oil” (Psalm 23:5)

The love of the shepherd for his sheep is best seen when times of special need call forth unusual acts of care for members of the flock. An example: Crossing a stream of water.
This process is most interesting. The shepherd leads the way into the water and across the stream. Those sheep who always walk closely with the shepherd, plunge boldly into the water, and are soon across. Others of the flock enter the stream with hesitation and alarm. Not being close to their guide, they may miss the fording place and be carried down the river a distance but will normally be able to clamber ashore. The little lambs are often heard to bleat pitifully as they leap and plunge. Some manage to get across, but if one is swept away, then the shepherd leaps quickly into the stream and rescues it, carrying it in his bosom to the shore. When they all arrive over the stream, the lambs will gambol about with joy, and the sheep will gather around their shepherd as if to express their thankfulness to him. This is the context of the verse in Isaiah 43:2 which says, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee” (Isaiah 43:2).

The Nature of Sheep:

  1. Sheep need to be Kept: 1 Samuel 16:11,19
  2. Sheep need to be Fed: 1 Samuel 17:15
  3. Sheep need Protection: 1 Samuel 17:34
  4. Sheep need to be Sheered: 1 Samuel 25:16
  5. Sheep Stray & Scatter without a Shepherd: 1 Kings 22:17
  6. Sheep become Prey: Ezekiel 34:6

God’s People as Sheep:

  1. Created by God: Psalm 100:3
  2. Owned by God: Psalm 79:13;
  3. Tendency to Stray: Psalm 119:176; Isaiah 53:6

God as our Shepherd:

Based on Two Texts: Psalm 23, John 10:1-18

  1. The Lord as my shepherd: Psalm 23:1
  2. The Lord as provider of my needs: Psalm 23:1
  3. The Lord as my satisfaction and portion: Psalm 23:2
  4. The Lord as my leader: Psalm 23:2
  5. The Lord who restores my soul: Psalm 23:3
  6. The Lord as my sanctifier: Psalm 23:3
  7. The Lord as my protector and comfort: Psalm 23:4
  8. The Lord as my soothing balm: Psalm 23:5

Interactive Study of John 10