Before You Even Think About Being a Pastor

By Scott Attebery

photo credit: quinn.anya

“So, you’re going to be a pastor.” Have you heard that before? Perhaps from a co-worker, family member, or long-time friend. Even more, have you wondered what they mean? What is the underlying meaning of their question?

Before you get frustrated by everyone’s questions and concerns, take some time to understand why they are concerned. Pastoring is the greatest privilege with which a human could be called. The position is an humbling honor.

I think that’s why many people do a “double-take” when you announce your new role in life. People know that there is something special –even weighty- about the position of pastor. Naturally, they want to make sure you have considered the importance of the calling. Their reactions aren’t necessarily questioning your credentials as much as acknowledging the magnitude of the profession.

Either way –whether they are questioning your qualifications or acknowledging the gravity of the position –it begs the question:have you considered the responsibility required of a pastor? Here are a few questions to help you evaluate your readiness for the role. Before you say, “yes” to a pastorate, consider the following:

1) Do you love people? I mean really love people? Christ calls pastors to “feed his sheep” (John 21:15-17). The idea is to care for the spiritual development of the church with the same care that Christ exhibited while on earth. As an “under-shepherd (I Peter 5:1-4),” pastors are given the greatest stewardship in the kingdom: the stewardship of the sheep. The only way to care for them completely is by providing Christ-like love.

Although the concept of loving people may seem like a given, don’t overlook the fact that pastors are often required deal with people in their least-lovable situations in life. Are you willing to put aside your own desires for the good of others? Are you willing to patiently listen to the pain in other peoples’ lives –and really care? Are you willing to fix a flat tire in the rain, answer a late-night phone call, or sit with the grieving?

2) Is your desire to pastor more than just the desire for entrepreneurship?  That may seem like a strange question, but many men get into pastoring simply because they like to build organizations and grow systems. While such skills may be useful in pastoring, they are certainly not the goal of pastoring. If you are looking for a place to tinker with entrepreneurial dreams, go start a business.

3) Are you wanting to prove a point by pastoring? Are you just looking to “do it your way” or “show everyone a better way?” Is your desire to lead a church in reaction to the way someone else leads a church? Grudges and personal agendas are terrible reasons to pastor. If you have a problem with a certain philosophy or style of ministry, have the guts to confront those whom you disagree with. Don’t drag an innocent congregation into your personal vendettas.

Similarly, if your motivation is to experiment and try new ideas just to see if they work (without any concern for the souls of the congregation), don’t even bother. Remember, congregations are sheep –not guinea pigs.

I’m not saying there isn’t place for trying new things. In fact, I love innovation in ministry. But it has to have the proper motive: Loving God and loving people. Your focus must be on pursing Christ’s desire for the church over your own desire for the church.

4) Do you just want a platform to sell your products (and yourself)? The recent emphasis on pastoring and church planting are wonderful so long as we guard ourselves from thinking these roles have an end in themselves. You do not pastor in order to become an expert with speaking engagements, books, and websites. You do not plant a church in order to create a new “model” for others to follow. While those things may be great by-products of the pastorate, the focus must be exalting Christ by serving his sheep.

Whether you are contemplating the pastorate or have been pastoring for decades, these are questions that must be considered. Answer the questions –be brutally honest, and don’t be offended the next time someone asks, “So, you’re going to be a pastor?”

Scott Attebery

Scott Attebery

After serving in campus ministry at the University of Central Arkansas and coordinating student conferences for the Department of Church Ministries from 2000-2005, Scott pastored Wyatt Baptist Church in El Dorado Arkansas. In 2008, Scott’s wife, Jill, passed away in an automobile accident. He recalls, “God used our Church to be Christ to my family and me during that time.” After seven years of pastoring, Scott was selected as the Executive Director of DiscipleGuide Church Reources, a department of the Baptist Missionary Association of America. Scott’s most important ministry is to his son, Bryce. They love to play in the backyard and cheer for the Razorbacks together. Scott holds a bachelor of Arts in Bible from Central Baptist College , a Master’s of Divinity from the BMA Theological Seminary, and is a candidate for Doctorate of Ministry from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. You can read his blog at