I’ve heard many people share this great news with me. I’m always excited for them because this world needs quality pastors who will truly love and serve people. However, before taking the plunge into this vocation, it is important to test one’s heart. Is the pastoral life truly the right fit for you? Below are some reasons people give for wanting to be a pastor, along with some thoughts to test those reasons. These are not bad reasons at all. However, if only ONE of the reasons listed below is the sole reason why you or someone else is thinking about going into ministry then I would strongly encourage you to pray and seek more. The decision to go into ministry should be supported by a variety of factors and not just one, which I’ll go into in my next post.
1. I FEEL like God has called me to be a pastor.
Many people will say this after going to a retreat, mission trip or revival night. They are on a spiritual high and feel like God has called them into ministry. This may very well be true but feelings can be caused by all sorts of things and should not be the sole bedrock of a decision. Sometimes our emotions can make us interpret things that weren’t necessarily from God. This doesn’t mean that God does not use emotions, or that God didn’t speak to them. I only caution people to test that call. How do you test that call? Check out my next post.
2. I love God’s word and teaching God’s word.
Pastors definitely need a passion for God’s word but this shouldn’t be the sole reason to be a pastor. You can love teaching God’s word and still not be called to be a pastor. A volunteer small group leader with the ability to teach may be something more appropriate or fitting.
3. I want to serve God.
Sometimes we think the best and most “holy” way to serve God is through ministry. We elevate the pastoral job over secular jobs. But this isn’t true. I recommend reading Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor. You can serve God in any job, any place and time. Your job outside the church is just as important as a pastor serving in the church.
4. I like what my pastor does and I think I want to do that.
Many have been blessed and influenced by their pastors. If they have been encouraged or inspired by their pastor, then naturally, they may want to follow in their footsteps. This motivation, however, should only be the start of the conversation regarding whether or not to go into pastoral ministry. It is easy to have false assumptions and expectations about what a pastor does, so it’s important to test that desire by exploring the roles of a pastor and doing research to see if that’s truly the right fit and calling for you.
5. I like hanging out with people and talking about God.
Relationships are a big part of ministry, but there’s more to it than that. There are others parts of the calling that doesn’t involve interacting with people — budgeting, administrative things, cleaning, and studying/ preparing. These are equally important and necessary parts of ministry that need to also be embraced.
6. Other people said I could do it.
Having others confirm God’s call for you to do ministry is important, but you must also have that same conviction. Your family and friends should encourage and affirm your pastoral gifts and may even help you hear God’s voice more clearly. But you need to hear God speak clearly to you also. If you can’t hear God calling you clearly into ministry than how do you expect to help others listen and obey God’s voice as a pastor?
7. It seems fun.
Pastoring IS fun…sometimes. Other times, it is painful, frustrating, discouraging, and disappointing. Pastors will sometimes face criticism and will have to navigate through many emotional difficulties of others and themselves. There is a weight and burden that comes with pastoral leadership that isn’t always seen or recognized even by the pastor. Sadly, this is why many pastors burnout or leave the ministry. A pastor’s job isn’t all fun. But if you are called by God into a pastoral ministry, it can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding and blessed experiences of your life. If God is calling you, have courage to obey!