So, you want to be a pastor?

With so much being posted on social media these days, even those in ministry have available to them a plethora of helps, lists, and general advice from experienced clergy folk.

Much of what is shared on Facebook and Twitter are written by the “pro’s” in ministry research like Thom S. Rainer, or long-time veterans of ministry like Joe McKeever. What rarely gets shared are articles and posts written by ordinary guys like me – probably because we aren’t professional authors or researchers.

Last week I had the opportunity to hear a friend of mine preach at a church that is considering him for the role of senior pastor. Therefore, I want to share some helpful hints from an old-school, bi-vocational, small-church, in-the-trenches pastor with no access to research teams, only personal experience, and some common sense.

Hopefully, my friend (and others) will find the following 10 points helpful.

10 Words of Wisdom for Those Entering the Pastorate

  1. Get a biblical education. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if the school is only a rag-tag, non-accredited hole in the ground, get an education from someplace that will teach you how to study the Bible by making you study the Bible. Those who call a seminary a “cemetery” are nothing more than illiterate bigots who should be avoided – unless you want to show them how to get saved.
  2. Listen to your wife. I know, sometimes wives have actually been the reason men have left the ministry. However, a good, godly wife will offer you insight that no one else can. She really does have an intuition that sees what our eyes can’t. She is also going to be the only one in the church you can trust 100%
  3. Don’t think every sermon needs to be alliterated. Guys, not every sermon is best delivered with four points, all alliterated with a certain letter or phonetic sound. Sometimes the best way to outline your sermon is just go with the way the Scripture leads.
  4. Be a sheepdog. Do whatever it takes to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to protect not only those in your church but your own family. Be prepared to fight – literally – for those you love. Always be on the lookout for wolves in sheep’s clothing, especially sexual predators. Believe me, I wish I’d prepared better.
  5. Draw your lines in the sand early on – the earlier the better. Don’t wait for church trouble to draw your lines in the sand. Don’t wait until you are in a struggle with disagreeing leadership before you say, “This is the way it’s going to be.” Start early by saying that…be the thermostat, not the thermometer.
  6. Learn to preach without notes. There’s going to come a time when you need to preach and you won’t have time to prepare an outline. There is going to come a time when you are asked to preach a funeral or a revival service, and all you will have is your Bible. Read it…learn it…know it…and be able to preach from it without a man-made crutch.
  7. Check your pride. The day you go up to the pulpit all cocky, that’s the day you will be an utter failure. Ascend to the “sacred desk” with your knees shaking under the weight of the seriousness of what you’re doing and you will come down humble, but confident God’s Word will not return void. As long as you are humble and dependent on God, that’s when even the most basic of sermons can shake the foundations of hell itself.
  8. Don’t grow too dependent on technology. Men, there may come a day when we don’t have the internet, iPads, microphones, and projection screens. At any moment you could lose one or all of those things, so learn to prepare and to preach like the great warriors of the past – because history has a tendency to repeat itself.
  9. Love your family more than your ministry. You’ve probably heard it said before, but it’s true; your family is your first and most important ministry, not the congregation you serve. Don’t lose your wife or kids for the sake of any church.
  10. Never stop studying and learning. Even if you go to Bible school and seminary, never think you’ve learned enough. Always be learning, reading, researching, and studying. If George Washington Carver could squeeze all he did out of the lowly peanut (to the glory of God), imagine how much you will be able to find if you keep digging deeper into the Holy Writ!

So, there you have it. Do you have some words of wisdom you’d like to share? Why not write them in the comment section below? I’m sure we all could benefit from our collective experiences.

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8 Comments

Filed under ministry, Preaching

8 responses to “So, you want to be a pastor?

  1. “Those who call a seminary a “cemetery” are nothing more than illiterate bigots who should be avoided – unless you want to show them how to get saved.” I guess this depends on your definition of a seminary. I don’t consider myself an illiterate bigot, but I still use that analogy. My accelerated Bible school curriculum prepared me for the ministry and, if I had desired, ordination in the AOG. I certainly agree with the rest of your points, although I never conquered number 6.

    • Not all “seminaries” have to be ivy-league types or denominationally sponsored. All I’m really referring to are those like whom I grew up hearing who scoffed at any biblical education outside of a KJV, a Strong’s Concordance, and the Sword of the Lord magazine. Granted, some may only have access to limited resources, but those who discourage biblical education are either illiterate themselves, jealous, or controlling.

  2. Good stuff Anthony. ALL 10 and especially #10. My old Homiletics Professor used to say (about #6), “If you can’t remember what you are going to say, no one will remember what you said!” He was not hard-core though as he encouraged using a cheat sheet. (the outline and some illustration prompts).

    • And no I don’t want to be a pastor unless God makes it extremely clear on that calling!

    • I put the “no note” thing into practice today. I made the drive down to the small seminary where I have been recording video lectures on the book of Acts (check out my Facebook page and you can actually watch 30+ minutes of the 45 I recorded…I put my phone on the tripod holding the camera and turned on Facebook live). But when I got to the school I realized I had left my notes! I literally had to go with just my Bible and a couple of things I scribbled on the back of a business card right before. But I think it went well.

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