So, You Want to Be a Pastor?
The young man who sits in awe of the public ministry of the pulpit needs to know that the pastor who preaches to the church must also shepherd it. To be an under-shepherd in God’s church is a noble calling and a life well spent (1 Tim. 3:1). Yet the aspiring pastor must never forget that a call to pastor is a call to suffer.
A young twenty-something sits stapled to the pew, gripped by the power of his pastor’s sermon. The exegesis is precise, the illustrations are impactful, the zeal is palpable, and he is held in rapt attention to the Word of God. Everything snaps into focus as he thinks to himself, “This is what I want to be. This is what I want to do with my life. I want to be a pastor.”
The church always needs more pastors, and when a young man expresses an honest desire for the noble task (1 Tim. 3:1), the church should celebrate.
But what if this young man aspires to something he doesn’t understand? What if he—quite mistakenly—thinks that pastoring is just preaching great sermons, leading big meetings, and studying, writing, and praying forty hours a week?
My aim in this article is not to scare young men away from ministry, but to give them a clearer vision of what a life of shepherding looks like and to challenge them to count the cost before entering it (Luke 14:28-29). The ministry of the pastor is a ministry of sacrifice, most of which is unforeseen.
Here is my appeal to the aspiring pastor: brother, count the cost.
1. Count the Emotional Cost
Jesus, the great shepherd, wept over the flock (Luke 19:41). His ministry was one of deep emotional distress (Luke 22:44).
We are not greater than our master (John 15:20). Gospel ministry was an emotional cost to Jesus, and it will be to us too. Defections from the faith will shake you. Writer’s block will aggravate you. Biting sheep will frustrate, sadden, and wound you. And because Jesus loves you, he will humble you (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Pastoral ministry isn’t easy; it’s not supposed to be.
The good news is that God will work his strength in your emotional weakness. But make no mistake about it, the ministry will take an emotional toll on you (2 Cor. 11:28, Phil. 2:28). If it doesn’t, something’s wrong.