And he had in his right hand seven stars… The seven stars are the angels [messengers] of the seven churches…
— Revelation 1:16,20
Did you know that Jesus symbolically likened pastors to “stars?” That’s right — that’s what the Bible tells us in Revelation 1:16 and 20. Why did Christ liken pastors to “stars,” and what does this tell us about pastors? If you have a pastor, I think you’ll really enjoy reading this Sparkling Gem. I believe this discussion today will deepen your appreciation and esteem for the gift God placed in your life when He gave you your pastor. And I pray it will fuel your desire to consistently pray for your pastor so his light shines strong and burns long for Jesus Christ!
The word “stars” comes from the Greek word asteras, which simply means stars — the same word we would use to describe the stars in the universe. The meaning of these stars is found in Revelation 1:20, where Jesus explained, “…The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches….” The word “angels” is from the Greek word angelos, which, in this case, refers to human messengers. Specifically, it referred to the pastors of the churches Christ was addressing.
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Why did Jesus use “stars” to describe the pastors He was addressing in the book of Revelation? What was the symbolic significance of this, and what does the scriptural use of this metaphor tell us about the ministry of a pastor?
Let’s begin by pondering the following scientific facts about stars. Then we’ll see how these facts relate to pastoral ministry and why Christ likened pastors to stars.
- Every star has a beginning and an end. After its birth, a star lives through several cycles of growth, but eventually it begins to cast off its outer layers in preparation for death. Thus, there is no such thing as a permanent star.
- The lifespan of a star is determined by the amount of fuel it has at its core and the rate at which it uses that fuel.
- Massive stars have shorter life spans because they experience greater pressure at their cores, which causes them to burn energy more rapidly.
- Smaller stars burn less brilliantly, but because they experience less pressure at their core than massive stars, the smaller stars usually burn longer.
- As is true with human beings, the behavior of young stars and older stars is very different by nature. Younger stars are known to rotate rapidly and have high levels of “surface activity.” As stars mature and grow older, they slow down and their surface activity begins to diminish.
- Although older stars rotate more slowly and have less surface activity, it is in their mature years that they produce the strongest and most stable light.
- Like human beings, no two stars are the same. Out of all the stars in the universe, each one is unique in its physical characteristics and size. Furthermore, each star gives off its own unique level of luminosity and hue based on surface temperatures. A star can be a diversity of colors — red, yellow, white, and blue — depending on a variety of factors.
- Although stars may cross the orbits of other stars, each star has a specific, predetermined orbit, from which it veers very little, even over a time span of thousands of years. This explains why the signs in the heavens haven’t changed over the course of history.
Now let’s consider how these scientific facts about stars help explain why Jesus symbolically and spiritually compares pastors to stars.
- Like the stars in the heavens, even the most bright and shining pastoral ministry is temporary and fading. Although a pastor may serve in one location for many years, there is no such thing as a permanent pastor. Eventually a time comes when his or her light begins to fade so a new “star” can be introduced. In time, each pastor begins to wind down and prepare for another pastor to take his or her place and become a guiding light for that church and community.
- The lifespan of a pastor’s ministry may be short or long, depending on several factors. One key factor is the amount of spiritual fuel and endurance he has at his core, as well as the rate at which he expends that fuel in running his race.
- Often pastors of larger churches have ministries with shorter life spans because they experience such great pressure at their core, which can cause them to burn out more quickly. And although it may seem as if pastors with smaller congregations burn less brilliantly or have less impact, they may shine their light longer because they experience less pressure at the core The amount of spiritual fuel resident within a pastor, his use of that fuel, and his ability to endure pressure at his core are all critical factors in determining the longevity of his ministry.
- Like massive stars, those pastors who have larger congregations run the risk of experiencing undue pressure at their core if they burn too quickly and furiously. Pastors who lead smaller congregations may not shine as brightly in terms of prominence or notoriety, but they may burn longer because they’re not subjected to the incessant pressure at their core that pastors of larger churches experience. What transpires at the core of a pastor’s life is what determines his or her brevity or longevity in the ministry.
- Like stars, younger pastors can be much more involved in “surface activity” and spin much faster in terms of a Constant movement and a fixation on what impresses the flesh is the fruit of some younger “stars” in the ministry. But as they grow older and more consistent in their walk with God, pastors often come to the conclusion that “surface activity” is not a mark of maturity.
- As a result, the strongest and best years of ministry for pastors usually occur as they grow more mature and come to know Jesus Christ in a deeper way. Pastors who survive the pressure at their core and use their Spirit-given fuel wisely find that their latter years of ministry are their strongest years, because they are able to provide a steady and stable source of light for their churches and communities.
- Like the stars in the universe, no two pastors are exactly God calls some pastors to lead massive churches, others to lead medium-sized churches, and still others to lead smaller churches. Some pastors are called to be bright lights who are well known to the masses, whereas others are called to have less visibility in smaller churches or communities. Regardless of the size of their congregation or ministry, however, pastors are called to shine their light in a way that is consistent with their own unique calling.
- Like stars, each pastor will be different from every other pastor in his specific characteristics, luminosity, and hue. Each person has his own unique experiences to draw from and his own “spiritual temperature” in God. Pastors shine with different hues, yet all represent various facets of God’s character.
- Just as stars have an appointed orbit, God has a predetermined course or an “orbit” for each pastor to follow. This would include the details that make a pastor’s call to minister the Gospel distinct and unique, such as where he is called to serve, what culture he is called to impact, and which people he is called to minister to. Just as stars cross the paths of other stars, each pastor’s course will cross the paths of other pastors so he can fellowship with and be influenced by them. Nevertheless, a pastor must be careful not to veer from his own divine call so his light can shine in the area or “orbit” God has ordained for him.
From the facts and symbolic comparisons we’ve read today, we can see there are many similarities between pastors and stars. It’s an understatement to say that Christ knew these facts a long time before science knew them — that’s why He used stars symbolically to describe pastoral ministry.
In light of what we’ve read in today’s Sparkling Gem, let’s commit to praying daily for our pastors: 1) that they become everything God intends them to be; 2) that they will possess a sustained supply of spiritual energy at their core and shine as God intended them to shine; and that they’ll be empowered to provide the necessary guiding light for their congregations and communities. Our prayers of faith will avail much, impacting for eternity not only our pastors’ lives, but also every place and every person they are called to reach with the truth of the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Heavenly Father, I thank You for what I have learned today about pastoral ministry. I specifically pray for my pastor — that he will have sufficient spiritual fuel in the core of his being for a long-lasting ministry; that my pastor’s ministry will be more stable and strong the older he gets; that my pastor will take his unique role among all pastors; that he knows the “orbit” designed and laid out for his pastoral ministry; and that he will fulfill the divine destiny that You have planned for his life. I thank You for the way my pastor serves, and I ask You, Father, to bless him abundantly. Give him the wisdom, power, and strength that is needed for a long-term ministry that brings forth much fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
Today I release my faith for my pastor. I specifically confess that my pastor has sufficient spiritual fuel in the core of his being for a long-lasting ministry; that my pastor’s ministry will be stable and stronger the older he gets; that my pastor will take his unique role among all pastors; that my pastor knows the orbit designed for his pastoral ministry; and that he will fulfill the divine destiny that You have planned for his life. I confess that You, Father, give my pastor the wisdom, power, and strength that is needed for a long-term ministry that brings forth much fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Did you learn something new today about pastoral ministry? Of everything you read, what stood out above all else? What specifically will you carry with you from this Sparkling Gem?
- Not only does Jesus refer to pastors as stars, but also as Have you ever considered how your pastor is a God-sent angel to your church? What does this mean to you? What do you think of the Bible using this analogy to depict your pastor’s ministry?
- Do you regularly pray for your pastor? If the answer is no, maybe today would be a good day to add him or her to your prayer list and to begin regularly praying for your pastor to have the wisdom and strength to lead the church and give light to the community.