What will it take to get you ready for ministry? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Recently, I seem to be running into men who want to be pastors. Now this is certainly a noble ambition to have, but I want to make sure that they are ready. You see, I have met far too many pastors that were “called to preach” (Which is a term I don’t support anyway, but oh well) and I can’t help but wish that when God had “called” them that He had actually given them the ability to preach. These preachers never really grow in their knowledge of God at all and don’t wrestle with the text and don’t read the best material on what they’re speaking about. For these kinds of people, if you have passion, well God will work through your passion and make sure you get it all right.
No. It’s work. It takes work. Here are some steps I recommend.
First off, if you are to be a man of the book, you must be a man of many books. The Bible is a complex book to understand on its own. Don’t be someone who thinks you’re the only one who has received any guidance from the Holy Spirit in reading the text. Remember that many people went before you who engaged with the text and you can read them and save yourself several years where you would have been reinventing the wheel. You should also read your modern brothers and sisters today so that you can know what is being said today and what the big issues of the day people are wrestling with are.
Second, you will need to learn many other skills. If you want to lead a church, you will need good administrative skills from how to handle long and boring meetings to how to balance a budget. You will also need to learn counseling for the many people who come to you with some form of distress. You will need to learn subjects like church history so you can know the history of your belief system. Naturally, you will need to learn apologetics as well and in the growing age of skepticism, I cannot stress enough just how important it is to learn apologetics. If you cannot answer objections to the Christian faith and give a reason why you should believe the claims of Christianity, you will end up producing many apostates and these apostates will tend to reproduce themselves easily in the age of the internet.
Third, you will need to know how to manage your own time. You have to have time for the meetings and such of a church, time for your personal study for your own edification, time for study for the preparation of a sermon, time for your own family life, time for your own downtime so you can avoid burnout, and then be available for sudden 3 A.M. calls when a member of your church has a loved one in the hospital. If you cannot handle this, then you should not go into the field.
Finally, remember the work you do, you do for God. Please watch what you say. I see pastors make major blunders in sermons and it’s quite frankly embarrassing. Try to preach a sermon that can hit as many people in the audience as possible. We tend to have pastors speaking on the lowest level possible. I think this is quite wrong. Don’t aim above their heads, but aim to make them reach up a little bit at least. I have been in more than enough sermons where I’ve been sitting there wondering what I’d do for some fun on my Sunday down time when I got home. Why? It’s because it’s all stuff I’ve heard before. Make sure some of this is good doctrine too. Your church needs to know what we believe and why we believe and what difference it makes. It needs more than just being a good person. Morality is important for a Christian, but it is not the whole deal.
Please make sure if you want to be a pastor that you are ready. You are leading the flock of God and that is not a responsibility to be taken lightly as those of us who teach will be judged more strictly in the end.