There are a few jokes about the perfect pastor that continue to make the rounds:
35 years old with 30 years experience.
Doesn’t dress too flashy or too trashy.
Has a lovely but modest wife, and 1.5 well-behaved children.
Can preach, teach, sing, play, administrate, cut grass, clean toilets, visit all the sick and elderly, attend all the church kids school plays and ball games and find time to pray for 3 hours every day.
These are jokes.
But it’s not funny when we see a person trying to serve as a pastor when they lack some basic necessary gifts and abilities.
From my 30 plus years in ministry, I have a few (10 for now) indispensable skills a successful pastor must possess. Please, let’s take some for granted. In other words, don’t scold me for omitting praying or whatever. These things are obvious. The points I want to cover may not be as obvious.
1. Must be able to personally lead someone to Christ. It is shocking to learn that some pastors have never led anyone to salvation outside of a church service. If the pastor doesn’t, the people won’t.
2. Must be able and willing, even eager, to work hard. Sometimes the work is manual, sometimes it is intellectual, but it is always strenuous. In my opinion, pastors cannot work less than 50 hours per week on average if they hope to build a growing, effective church. While we must prioritize our family and health, excessive television, golf, napping or any other “recreation” is a sign of slothfulness. Please don’t be guilty of adding to the “lazy preacher” perception. Of course the above numbers are considering full time pastors.
3. Must be humble. Arrogance, pride and an inflated ego by a pastor will destroy a ministry quickly. Get over yourself.
4. Must be a learner. Whether the education is formal or informal, there is no space for intellectual anemia. You never know it all so learn until you die. You speak on behalf of God; know what you’re talking about.
5. Must not be a racist. Now, this should be a given, but it is not. Pastors cannot discriminate against people of other races or nationalities. Mistreating anyone is not allowable. If you cannot love all people equally, and minister to anyone, you disqualify yourself from effective ministry, and perhaps Christianity altogether.
6. Must be compassionate. Some score higher on the mercy scale than others, but a hard-hearted pastor is an oxymoron. Shepherds must care.
7. Must value other generations. If you can only lead people who are close to your age, you have a very limited harvest field. If multigenerational ministry doesn’t come naturally to you, work on it. The long term effectiveness of your ministry is at stake.
8. Must not fall in love with methods, style or genres. If you simply must preach a certain way, or if you only allow a certain type of worship music, or if you insist that church ministry be conducted in your preferred method, perhaps there is an ownership problem. The ministry does not belong to you; the ministry belongs to the Lord. God never changes. But times change, people change, and what’s effective in ministry changes.
9. Must be accountable to and for others; must be responsible to and for others. Independent pastors (those who answer to no one) are operating outside of biblical guidelines. Followers should not follow this type of a leader.
10. Must be able to increase the impact of the church they serve. If a pastor cannot lead the church to grow, the church will die. A pastor that leads a church to die isn’t a good pastor.
Well, there is the list of 10. Of course, there are tons more, perhaps they will come in the future. In the meantime, pastor on!