Do Pastors Have Control Over Members?

One may be wondering “should my Pastor have control over me?” “If yes, isn’t that some sort of bondage?” Let’s delve into a very brief discussion on that.

We need to understand what the work of a Pastor is, afterwards, we’d be looking at the meaning of control, we will also go a bit further to look at what manipulation means.


The Hebrew word for Pastor means to tend a flock or graze it. The direct English word that means the same thing as Pastor is Shepherd or Herdsman. In the New Testament, the Greek word used as Pastor also means the same thing. Let’s see what Paul the Apostle wrote in Ephesians

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:11‭-‬13 NIV

Because our emphasis is on Pastors, we will not be talking about other ministry gifts mentioned in the above verse. However, you need to notice something about Pastors here, they are also teachers. The word “pastors and teachers” are together, you can also say “Pastors who are also teachers”.

Pastors were given to the body of Christ to equip God’s people for works of service. Pastors prepare believers for ministry. The duty of Pastors will continue till the end of this world when we will come to the unity of faith.

Pastors are called Pastors because Jesus regards us as his lamb. Let’s see what Jesus told Peter

“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:15‭-‬17 NIV

The pastor has been gifted and appointed to feed and take care of believers with the word of God. God’s word is the food required for our spiritual growth. Just like Jesus affirmed that

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4 NIV

Pastors live their lives exclusively for this service, it is double sacrifice! Pastors always follow after the principles of Jesus by the leading of the Holy Spirit to carry out this duty. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd, Pastors lead us after him.

To be more precise, we’d quickly define the role of a Pastor as modelling Christ to us and training us to love one another and extend this love to others by the work of ministry.


A herdsman controls the herd, he leads them in the direction they will go and look after them every day, providing them with food and water and also protecting them from wild beasts and criminals. There is no way a shepherd will lead the sheep without involving control.

Shepherds mirror the duties of a Pastor. If herdsmen have control over their flocks, then Pastors have control over his members. While herdsmen are preparing the flocks for the day it would be sold, killed and eaten, Pastors are teaching and nurturing us so that we can live fully for God and be useful to him.

When we were in secondary school, our teachers would often determine how our weekends would go. They would give us several homework and projects and except us to submit them on Monday. At home, you’d see us struggling to meet up even though our teachers are not there with us, that is control!

Aside from the picture I painted, a teacher needs a certain degree of authority to be taken seriously. I understand why people always have a problem when we talk about control, they don’t know the meaning. What does control mean?

“To exercise restraining or directing influence, to regulate or to have power over something.”

Any man who is not willing to be controlled cannot be pastored. This does not mean that a Pastor has an absolute say in the entirety of a person’s life or that every single decision one takes must be dependent on the approval of a Pastor, however, a Pastor is in control with regards to the extent that his job description over his flocks covers.

For example, a Pastor may not have to control your business, your family, the food you eat or things that don’t concern him but he can always have ministerial control on you as he must equip you for the work of ministry. He can also exercise authority in those areas he believes have a tangible influence on your ministry.

While the authority of God is absolute, the authority of a Pastor is delegated by God and limited by God’s word. What does this mean? It means that God’s word is the guide on which a Pastor exercise authority over his members. But surely, a Pastor has authority and should be in control. Otherwise, he cannot effectively carry out his duty as a Pastor.


Many folks confuse control with manipulation, they say things like “a Pastor shouldn’t be in control, he can only teach me but not control me”. People with this understanding will never be able to learn from a Pastor and when they do, they may not even admit it, therefore making it unfruitful to them.

What is manipulation? It means to control people unfairly using dubious means and to one’s advantage. Control is control, manipulation is unfair control. For example, some people abuse the influence they have on others, they use that influence to take advantage of others and get them to do his bidding.

While a Pastor who understands the authority he has is a blessing to his congregation, the one who abuses it is a problem to his congregation.


Pastors are servants, they have been handpicked by God to lay their lives for others just like Jesus did. To make the job easier for them, we must be willing to submit to them, we must be willing to let them have control where they should and we must be willing to honour them.

It is risky to submit to someone who doesn’t have control over you. How else can the ministry of a Pastor be profitable when he lacks control over you? The risk of submitting to a Pastor that can’t control you is not worth taking.

To be fair to Pastors for all they do, we are instructed to accord them double honour and to minister to them with our material substance as much as they minister to us in spiritual things. The Message Bible puts it this way

“Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.” – 1 Timothy 5:17‭-‬18 MSG

We are also told

“Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?” – Hebrews 13:17 MSG

By all means, don’t make things harder for your Pastor. Your submission, love, support and obedience are what is needed to make the work easier for them. We all have indeed been called into ministry, but they have a greater responsibility of preparing you for that ministry in which you have been called.


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