[Adapted from talk given by Erwin McManus]
Here are several questions you should ask yourself as you ponder a call to pastoral & local church ministry:
- Do I meet the qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? This is the place to start. If your character is not mature, stable, and (in a non-perfect way) exemplary then you are not ready to be a pastor. This does not necessarily mean you are on the wrong path if you don’t’ yet have victory over certain sins, but it means you won’t be ready until you meet the Scriptural standards.
- Do the Christians who know me best consistently affirm my gifts for ministry? The most important call is the objective call of your church encouraging you to pursue pastoral ministry.
- Do I like to teach all kinds of people in all kinds of settings? Most people thinking of pastoral ministry are excited to preach. I want to know if they are excited to preach at the Rescue Missions and excited to teach the Bible to five year-olds.
- Do I find myself stirred by good preaching? If you are called to preach the gospel you should thrill to hear it preached. The content should move you, and you should find yourself thinking, “Oh, that I could proclaim this good news.”
- Do I find myself stirred by bad preaching? The last point was obvious. This one is less so, but just as important. I think there ought to be a fire your bones when you hear the word of God handled badly.
- Do I enjoy being around people? Some pastors are extroverts; some are not. Some are in the middle. I do look forward to being with people more than some pastors I know. But whatever your personality temperament—you won’t be a good pastor if you don’t like people and recoil from them as much a s possible.
- Do I make friends easily? This is a subjective test (like so many of these questions), but a lack of meaningful friendships is not a good sign. It could be an indication that you are too harsh, too much a loner, or frankly too awkward to be effective in pastoral ministry.
- Do I like to read? Thankfully there is no GPA or SAT requirement for pastoral ministry. And yet, if we are to be “apt to teach” we must be eager to learn. Preaching grows thin and ministry get stale without time in the Book and the books.
- Have I thought about doing this for more than a few months? Often when students or adults come to Christ they quickly assume that because they are zealous for the Lord they ought to go college/seminary and prepare for the ministry. This is usually misguided, sometimes because of pride and sometimes due to misplaced zeal. There’s a reason the Bible insists that church leaders not be recent converts.
- Do I still want to be a pastor if I never write a book, never speak at a conference, and never have a big church? Our passion must be to feed the flock, not feed our egos.
Pastoral ministry is unique among all vocations in the world—you need to know your inclinations are not self-serving but your direction is God-ordained.