Pastors who are walking in their God-given authority are gifts from Jesus to encourage spiritual development. They can be wonderful spiritual parents. But how do we determine if they are healthy before we submit ourselves to them?

Here are seven characteristics based on 1 Peter 5:1-4 to look for:

1. A healthy pastor fulfills all the responsibilities of a good shepherd--feeding, guiding, guarding and protecting the flock.
2. A healthy pastor acts as an overseer, providing mature spiritual oversight within the local church. He helps to create a spiritual climate that will encourage the people in their relationships with God.
3. A healthy pastor shepherds the people willingly, not out of compulsion.
4. A healthy pastor has no desire for dishonest gain. He is not driven by a love of money and does not see people as simply a financial resource.
5. A healthy pastor refrains from using his position of spiritual authority to exercise dominion over the people in his congregation. His attitude toward them is one of servanthood--not dominance.
6. A healthy pastor knows that the people belong to God and that he is merely a steward, chosen by God to love, lead and represent Him.
7. A healthy pastor is an example of Christlikeness to the congregation. He lives a transparent life devoid of secrets and hidden agendas.

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