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Beza, A Pastor Must Know Each of His People by Name

I have made the point often here that the New Testament portrays pastors knowing their people well, and not just speaking to crowds of unknown people. The command to watch over their souls, knowing God will hold us accountable for this (Heb 13:17), requires this as does a ministry in which we “warn everyone” and “teach everyone” with an aim to “present everyone mature in Christ” (Col 1:28). The assumption is that we know whom we are caring for. It will be difficult  to watch over souls of people whose names you don’t know. I have also cited here numerous instances where church leaders from the past have affirmed this understanding. Recently I have come across one more example.

Theodore Beza served under the leadership of John Calvin in Geneva and was Calvin’s successor. Beza exemplifies this understanding of pastoral ministry in his sermon on John 21:15, where Jesus charged Peter, “Feed my sheep”:

It is not only necessary that [a pastor] have general knowledge of his flock, but he must also know and call each of his sheep by name, both in public and in their homes, both night and day. Pastors must run after lost sheep, bandaging up the one with a broken leg, strengthening the one that is sick …. In sum, the pastor must consider his sheep more dear to him than his own life, following the example of the Good Shepherd.

(Cited in Scott Manetsch, Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609, 281)

This is what scripture calls for and our forebears recognized it. Let us be faithful to walk in these ways as well.

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