What are the top 10 biblical priorities for every pastor?

The amount of tasks for the shepherd within the local church to get accomplished can be overwhelming to say the least.  Often times a pastor’s discernment on what to prioritize gets clouded in the frenzy of activity and the demands of certain people and circumstances.  In focusing on the shepherd’s ministry in the local church at the upcoming The Call Leadership Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland on February 25th, my intent is to give a “top10” of the clear, biblical, and pastoral priorities in command form that should dictate to what we give our attention as pastors and leaders and to whom should receive it. 

The hope is that those who are called and in positions to shepherd God’s people will be freed from the bondage of that which demands a shepherd’s time, effort, and resources, but needs to be pushed to the side for the sake of more directly caring for the sheep more faithfully. 

The umbrella to which these top 10 priorities all fit come from the direct command to God’s shepherds to “Shepherd the flock of God among you (1 Peter 4:2).”   The shepherds are to watch over the flock as one who will give an account (Heb. 13:17) until the Chief Shepherd appears (1 Peter 5:4). 

I have been formulating this top 10 for some time now and have no intention to reveal it before the conference.  However, I do think it would be a good exercise for every pastor to evaluate what would be your “top 10” priorities for your pastoral ministry.  To start the discussion, I will give my first 2, and you try to fill in the rest in the comment section.  I will post the rest of mine at the conclusion of the conference.

1)      Guard the truth (1 Tim. 4:6-7, 16; 6:20-21; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2:1-2, 15)

2)      Preach and teach the Word (1 Tim 4:13; 2 Tim: 4:2; Acts 6:2)









Pastors, how would you fill in the blanks?  Make sure you have biblical support for each one.  I welcome your thoughts.

Posted in Oversight of Souls, The Pastor's Soul
12 comments on “What are the top 10 biblical priorities for every pastor?
  1. Dave says:

    Ordering past the first 2 is hard but here are my top 4:

    1. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matt 22:37)
    2. You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:39)
    3. Preach and teach the Word (1 Tim 4:13; 2 Tim: 4:2; Acts 6:2)
    4. Do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5)

  2. Jason Leonad says:

    You mentioned that all of this is under the umbrella of 1 Peter 5:2, “shepherd the flock”. This is good, because I wouldn’t put “guarding the truth” as then number one role of a shepherd. I think Peter even goes further, just a few verses down, to say that we ought to be “examples”. Living in the way Jesus taught us to live, then, is the number one priority. And this primarily looks like loving each other the way Christ has taught us to live (John 13 and again in a sort of unity as expressed in His prayer in John 17). Surely guarding the truth is significant, but I think this, in our own culture, looks more like policing others rather than humbly guarding what I preach and teach as truth.

    Like Peter says in 1 Peter 5, then, I would say:
    1) Example the life Jesus has called us all too. (v3)
    2) Exercise oversight (give them leadership and vision) (v2)
    3) Be humble (v6)
    4) Do not be domineering (v3)
    5) Be sober minded (v8)
    6) Cast anxieties upon God (v7)
    7) Resist the devil (v9)
    8) Hold fast to the future promises of Christ’s redemptive work (v10)

    I’ll have to go to Timothy to talk about guarding the truth in me and Paul in some of his letters to address any concern over others’ teachings, but those are, of course, in submission to living like Jesus Christ. After all, it isn’t our right theology which saves us, but Jesus Christ, Himself. We “guard” truth in ourselves and challenge and throw out false teaching in others because something else, a knowledge of Jesus Christ and ourselves in Him, is being disrupted. So the knowledge of Jesus and us in Him is the priority.

    Of course, the list of 8 could be re-worded again and again as I look to different passages of Scripture.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Jim,

      To me it seems that you are the only one understands this matter…as there is only one “chief Shepherd” and “we all are brothers” the best thing we can do is to “example the life Jesus has called us all to”…
      At the end this church belong to HIM, and not to a local pastor…
      Unfortunately many local pastors forget this and put themselves into the position of the “head of the local church”…
      Churches in US are seeing optical success – at least compared to Europe.
      But is this success really about Lord Jesus Christ?
      Is it about the local pastors?
      Why would a pastor create a list of top 10 “biblical” priorities?
      Is that what Jesus did?
      He was much more simple – His only agenda was to “do His Father’s will” and to “speak His Father’s words”…
      Jesus denied His own existence, His own will…
      For Him there was only one will – His Father’s.
      Can this be said about the pastors today?

  3. Jim says:

    Hi Brian,
    Here are a few that come to mind!
    Take heed to yourself (1 Tim. 4:16; Acts 20:28, Prov. 4:23)
    Take heed to your doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16)
    Take heed to the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (Acts 20:28)
    Take heed to your marriage and family (Titus 1:6)
    Know, defend, preserve, and pass on in its fullness pure apostolic doctrine (2 Tim. 1:13)
    Labor to stir up and maximize the gifts God has given you (2 Tim. 1:6)
    Replace yourself (2 Tim. 2:2)

  4. Tim Bertolet says:

    #3 needs to be “Pray for the flock” (Acts 6:4) –that should be as high a priority as teaching and preaching the word.

  5. PJ Tibayan says:

    I would add (1) oversee the flock as a whole and individually as one who has to give an account (Hebrews 13:17); (2) equip the members for disciple-making ministry (Ephesians 4:11ff); and (3) model trusting and following Christ in your character (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 4:12; 1 Cor. 11:1; Heb. 13:7).

    Thanks for the discussion and the invitation to input.

    In Christ,

  6. Jason Whitley says:

    Brian, using yours and Tim’s (#3), here’s what I would add…
    1) Guard
    2) Preach
    3) Pray
    4) Oversee (1 Peter 5:1-2)
    5) Protect (1 Tim. 1:3)
    6) Entrust (2 Tim. 2:2) (Can guard and entrust me two things?)
    7) Order (Titus 1:5; 2:4-5)

    Some of these seem to overlap in many ways.

  7. Aaron says:

    3) Give your strength continually to prayer (Acts 6:4)
    4) Delegate daily non-Word-ministry to other spirit/faith/wisdom-filled men (Acts 6:3)
    5) Be lovingly faithful to his wife (1 Tim 3:2)
    6) Lovingly lead his family (1 Tim 3:4)
    7) Test, train (2 Tim 2:2), appoint (Tit 1:5), and affirm others into the Word-ministry
    8) Refute (Titus 1:9), and then if needed, separate from those with habitually unbiblical doctrine or lifestyle (Gal 1:8-9, 1 Cor 5:9-11, 2 Thess 3:14-15)
    9) Set an example of serious-minded, peace-pursuing self-control (Titus 1:7-8, 2:6-8, 1 Tim 3, 1 Pet 5:3 )
    10) Show hospitality (Titus 1:8, 1 Tim 3 )
    11) Teach older women how to lovingly, respectfully live for God so that they’ll train younger women (Titus 2:3-5)

  8. AE says:

    Brian, what encourages me about your top 2 (and I know what the other 8 are!) is that you live them out in your ministry.

  9. Aaron Tubbs says:

    I am so glad to see this post and these comments- I’ve been wrestling with the same exact issue recently. I’m preparing for the pastorate currently and have found it helpful to work through (to the best of my ability) what are the pastoral priorities. If anyone wants to give some feedback, here is the link to my blog where I just posted a few days ago my thoughts:


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