The answer to this question is helpful for Pastoral hopefuls and is useful for those seeking to become familiarized with the qualities and calling of a Pastor. The office of Pastors may seem to be the most coveted of offices, that is, until the demand of the office is made real to those that desire it without calling. To be without calling does not mean to be without the particular gift that accompanies the office of Pastor. Neither does it mean that other gifts and offices are not extremely purposeful and valuable to the Church and God’s people. The point here is not that the office of Pastor is superior to other offices, but that it is a stand-out unique office.
The Teacher is not a Pastor. The Preacher is not a Pastor. The Evangelist is not a Pastor. The Prophet is not a Pastor. The Worship Leader is not a Pastor.
The gift of teaching, preaching, evangelizing, prophesying or leading worship does not make anyone qualified for the office of Pastor.
The Pastor that is ordained by God will operate in all of the above gifts/offices. The Pastor can teach, preach, win souls and encourage soul winning, prophesy and lead worship (exhort with or without musical talent). But the gifts, by themselves, are not evidence of a Pastoral call. Evidence of a Pastoral call is Love (1 Corinthians 13:1). If you can’t love people, if you don’t have an action-backed passion for souls, if there is no stir in your spirit to help people do better, you are not called to be a Pastor.
Two years of Bible Institute, 4 years of Christian University, Seminary, Theological degrees, MDivs and Doctorates are all extraordinary and a worthy conquest, but none of them impart the gift of Pastor. You don’t go to school to become a Pastor, you go because you are a disciple or because you are certain that you have been called; this is the Work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11).
The Church needs teachers, preachers, evangelist, prophets and worship leaders. All whom are passionate about the purpose that is relative to their gift. What the Church does not need are Pastors that are dispassionate about souls and carefree of the lives of other people, those living in saving Grace and those that are on their way. The Apostle Paul made two powerful self-assessments, useful for all that aspire to lead. First, he says, “If I don’t have love, I am only a loud gong or a noisy cymbal,” then he says, “If I don’t have love, I am nothing at all” (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). Without love, the most extraordinary and even polished gifts/charisma are unpleasant and ineffective. Without love you cannot be a Pastor.
- This Love can be developed - If you have aspirations to be a Pastor, don’t bail out just yet. The gift can be developed, by the working of the Holy Spirit. However, love must be present. Love must be present in the one called to Pastoral office and it must continue to progressively develop (grow). Peter, the disciple of Jesus that became an apostle, was challenged by the Lord with this question in series, “Peter, do you love me.” At this very moment Peter was being restored for his denial of Jesus and at the same time he was given a Pastoral assignment.
It is like Jesus is saying, “the pain you suffered from denying me was not in vain. Now you will understand that love is not just flowery words or unharnessed emotion, but that it is active. That same love you say that you have for me, make it manifest for my people… at one time you said you will go to prison and even death with me and for me, it was not necessary then. Now I need you to provide that same tenacity for my people. Lay down your life.”
Peter would have understood best that the love that was being referred to here was not emotions, but that it is a pure, altruistic, sacrifice. He also would have understood that love must be present and it can also be developed. He started as a disciple who cared about his teacher, his church (group he belonged to) and himself. Now, through growth and the revelation for the mandate to love, he was positioned to be an overseer of the children of God.
The Church needs teachers, preachers, evangelist, prophets and worship leaders which are, primarily, complimentary to the office of a Pastor. As the ministry grows, those with special gifts begin to assist the Pastor in their area of talent. It is in those areas of service that many will discover and develop that love for people and the gift for the office of Pastor.
-Without the anointing you won’t make it as a Pastor-
It is too easy and unwise to look at what the Pastor does on a Sunday for 45 minutes and say, “I can do that.” What the Pastor is doing in that small timeframe, depending on the present congregation, is exercising his/her gift of preacher, teacher, evangelist, prophet or leading in worship. The ability to operate in the former is called anointing, but the true anointing of Pastoral work is not limited to a platform. It goes on much longer, it requires much sacrifice and consistency and strict dependency on the Holy Spirit.
The anointing of the Pastor’s office will carry the minister gracefully through what they do. What they do is out of love, care and passion, not mere obligation: * The Pastor has three thoughts that are always present at waking up and laying down: God’s glory, their family, their kingdom family (church). * The Pastor’s duties are not 9-5, but from sun up to sundown and often in the middle of the night. * The Pastor teaches, so they study hours and days on end. * The Pastor loses sleep for those that they serve. * The Pastor wakes up on the 3rd watch to pray for his church. * The Pastor reschedules and even cancels personal activities and goals for the sake of the people. * The Pastor endures ridicule, resentment, disloyalty, dishonor, deception, slander, and they still love. * The Pastor will strive to make disciples while those disciples may strive against learning. * The Pastor stands in the gap to protect the Kingdom family from cultural ideals and heretical teaching. * The Pastor ministers to 1 or 99, because they are not moved by crowd , but by love. * The Pastor loves the Kingdom family (church) in the same way that they love their biological family.
This can become a heavy weight if God has not prepared you to make these sacrifices. Without the anointing you won’t make it as a Pastor. The anointing is evident when loving God’s people is not optional in the heart of the minister. The anointing helps the minister consider the great and beautiful things over the trials and sacrifices. They will smile more, rejoice more, celebrate more, because the anointing brings joy that is steadfast.
Some may think that Pastors fake having endurance, fake having joy or fake that they love what they do. Not for the called. It’s not fake! They have been empowered by an anointing and they are propelled by love. In the most difficult of moments the Pastor that has been truly called by God believes Him when He says, “But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). The anointing will get you through.
-Without Love people get hurt- When teachers, preachers, evangelist, prophets and worship leaders misunderstand their gift and anointing they will assume that their gift qualifies them to be a Pastor of a church. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding that will end up with people being hurt, including the misplaced teacher, preacher, evangelist, prophet or worship leader (or any other gift for that matter). We cannot minister effectively if we are out of position and we will not receive effectively from those that are imparting from a place they have not been called to.
But even for the anointed Pastor who has been called, they have to consider the social and psychological issues that are often present in those that become part of or interact with a Kingdom family. Social norms and expectations held by an individual can cause them to feel disillusioned and even hurt. In many cases these people unfortunately believe that the church is perfect and everyone in it is perfect. They become distraught and let down when they find out otherwise. Church people need Jesus too! People with psychological issues such as megalomania, narcissism, or introversion (shortlist), are easy to let down. The church focuses on humility not megalomania, on being second not narcissism, on fellowship not introversion. As a result of the church’s focus those with these issues may feel unloved.
HOWEVER, the church may struggle identifying and helping these types flourish, but the Pastor should strive for their success. The Pastor is not intimidated or offended by the personal needs nor demands of people – that are in clear contrast to the Bible. The Pastor, that has been called and motivated by love, does not see these social and psychological issues as stigmas to stay away from. They strive to bring every disciple to the revelation of truth, a healthy mind, and renewed thinking. The Pastor speaks, believes, and lives this biblical truth, “Jesus did not come for the healthy but the sick.” Love covers over a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8).
In order to rightly and effectively pastor people that are [hurting, needy, good, intelligent, self-willed, humble, defiant, obedient, loving, grumpy, know-it-all, slow-to-transform, graceful, crass, generous, selfish, hard-to-love, honorable, pessimist and peaceful] Love is necessary along with all of its attributes, every step of the way!
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
-The Pastor takes on a role that is paternal- Spiritual parents are not those who can impart any spiritual gift or regenerate any part of any person, even themselves. This is strictly the work of the Holy Spirit. The endearments given to spiritual parents (mom/dad) is just that and nothing more, an endearment. It is born from a deep sense of gratitude that God has assigned someone over our lives to care for our souls (Hebrews 13:7). Not someone that would only teach us, preach to us, encourage us to win souls, or lead us in worship, but someone who will pass the plate for us, cry for us, wake up in the middle of the night and intercede for us.
Parents are like your personal cheerleaders, sincere advocates for your success. In the same way Pastors will declare and share victories with us, hurt when we hurt and rejoice when we rejoice. The Pastor is like a parent that would love us more than our purpose, who refuse to burden us with their vicarious dreams. Someone that does not despise us when we make the wrong or badly timed decisions… although their heart may ache, they will love you anyway.
The Pastor increases in love: * Every time they are indignant, they will remember the cross. * Every time they want to quit, they will remember their call. * Every time you go astray, they will be their when you return with open arms. * Every time Pastors are offended, they do their best to forgive. * They are not divine, they are not perfect, they are not all-knowing, they are not God. * But they do all that they possibly can to remind you of God’s unfailing, everlasting, and unconditional love.
While it is every Christian’s duty to represent and model Christ, it is the unique duty of Pastors to model both the life of Christ and the Love of the Father.
Are you sure you are a Pastor? Pray, ask for wisdom. If being a Pastor is your desire, make sure that the love you have is not only an emotion, but an action-backed passion for souls. There must be a stir in your spirit to help people do better. If you have taken a role that you cannot fulfill step down in grace. If you have been appointed as a Pastor, but you feel unprepared or unqualified, pray and ask God to show you, if you truly have the love. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. If your Pastor is not demonstrating the qualities listed here, don’t leave immediately. Spend some time praying for them and over them, they may still be in the developing stages and you may be the intercessor that God has chosen to nudge them into the next level.
Do all things in love. Do all things in prayer and in supplication.
Pastor Luis Vergara Edited by Pastora Francisca Vergara