Kevin DeYoung writes:
What does it mean to be “pastoral”?I’m a pastor. Have been for ten years. Best job I can imagine. I get to serve the God I love and work with the things our God loves most deeply: his word and his church. As the Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church I am 100% in favor of being “pastoral.”
So long as the word means what the Bible means for it to mean.
When I see the adjective “pastoral” placed in front of a noun it seems to me the word is almost always meant to convey, in contemporary parlance, a truncated set of virtues. A “pastoral approach” implies gentleness, patience, and a lot of listening. If someone is “pastoral” he is good with people, sensitive, and a calming influence. “Pastoral care” means comforting the sick, visiting widows, and lending a shoulder to cry on. These are all find examples of being a good pastor.
But these examples do not exhaust what the Bible means by “pastoral ministry.” My fear is that the soft virtues of pastoral care have so eclipsed the hard virtues that for many people a “pastoral approach” is another way of saying “amiable, personable, and psychological.” At worst, “pastoral” becomes that wonderful temperament we exude when we get through being preachy and theological…