10 Bad Reasons to Be a Pastor
RePosted from The Resurgence blog.
There are some good reasons to be a pastor, and there are some reasons that just aren’t enough. This is the third installment in an 8-part series calledPreparing to Lead.
Over the years, I have heard men give compelling reasons to be a pastor. I have also heard a few ridiculous reasons. But most often, I have heard reasons that just aren’t sufficient on their own to justify becoming a pastor. Here are 10 of them.
1. YOU LIKE SPENDING TIME WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS
This a very good thing. You should be really encouraged by this desire. According to Jesus, the clearest evidence of being a Christian is loving other Christians (John 13:35). And to love other Christians requires spending time with them.
But being a pastor requires you to spend considerable time alone in study and prayer. You will also give of yourself in knowing and serving non-Christians. Too many people mistake pastoral ministry for a never-ending summer youth camp. In reality, the two have very little in common.
2. YOU LIKE TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE
Again, this is a really good thing to like. All Christians should love to study the Bible in order to better know Jesus. A pastor must study the Bible. Preaching should be his highest priority and the foundation of influential preaching is focused study. But almost every pastor I know wishes he had more time to spend studying. It’s absolutely important and completely impossible to give yourself to it exclusively.
I have heard many reasons that just aren’t sufficient on their own to justify becoming a pastor.
3. YOU LIKE SPEAKING IN PUBLIC
Pastors must be able to clearly communicate the Bible. Most will preach anywhere from fifty to over a hundred different sermons in a single year. But speaking in public and preaching are two different things. The medium is the same, but the responsibility is not.
Making a compelling presentation to your co-workers and preaching the Bible are as different as a paintball competition and real combat. Both involve guns and helmets, but that is about all. Projects, products, and dollars can’t compare in worth to the souls and eternal destinies of human beings. And that is exactly what is at stake every time the pastor enters the pulpit. Being responsible to relay a message from God to people who desperately need him is an enormous task.
Being a pastor requires you to spend considerable time alone in study and prayer.
4. YOU LIKE INTRODUCING NON-CHRISTIANS TO JESUS
Connecting unbelievers to Jesus is one of the greatest thrills a Christian can know, and those who are fruitful in personal evangelism are a gift to a church. But a pastor has a responsibility to both evangelize and equip the church to share their faith with those who don’t yet know Jesus. It’s the role of equipping that makes the role of a pastor more like a player/coach than just a player. Be sure you want to coach before you retire from playing.
5. YOU WANT TO BE MORE DEVOTED TO JESUS
Maybe the most ironic aspect of pastoral ministry is how challenging it can be to prioritize your time with Jesus. I am not alone in feeling that my devotional life became far more challenging the day I began full-time vocational ministry. It is the number-one struggle for most pastors I know and have known. I think it has much to do with the constant demands and distractions intrinsic to ministry. That leads me to bad reason number six.
Almost every pastor I know wishes he had more time to spend studying.
6. YOU WANT TO SPEND FEWER HOURS WORKING
Pastoral ministry isn’t so much a job as it is a lifestyle. The pastor is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t have some set hours, a day off, or vacation. It just means you’re likely to be interrupted by emergencies on a regular basis. The hours are long. The work may not be physical, but it is emotional and spiritual, and it is all-encompassing and exhausting.
7. YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A MORE STABLE CAREER
I wish I had better news for you here. I am a strong believer that longevity is important for pastoral influence. But the sad reality is that pastors change churches and churches change pastors. One trusted researcher found that the average tenure of a pastor in America is three and a half years.
Add to that factor the harsh reality that in many churches, financial uncertainties may result in interrupted pay cycles, salary reductions, and layoffs. Instability is the norm for most pastors.
8. YOU ARE TIRED OF CONFLICT
Much of pastoral ministry is about conflict. There is resistance to Jesus from within, and even from your own heart. Then there is persecution from without. Every inch that the Kingdom of God advances is tenaciously defended.
Maybe the most ironic aspect of pastoral ministry is how challenging it can be to prioritize your time with Jesus.
9. YOU WANT OTHERS TO RESPECT YOU
Respect is required for a pastor, according to Scripture. He is to be respected in his home, in his church, and among outsiders (1 Tim. 3:4, 7). But respect can be hard to come by, and the man who moves into ministry to win the approval of others is sure to fail miserably (Gal. 1:10).
10. YOU WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
You should want to be used by Jesus to draw attention to him. But how you go about doing just that is really important. You don’t have to have a pulpit. You don’t have to be loud. The best way to spread his fame is still the biblical way: “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thess. 4:11–12).