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3 Ways to Check Your Motives Before Becoming a Pastor
If you’re an aspiring pastor, you need to be sure that your reasons for pursuing ministry leadership are the right ones. Thankfully, the Apostle Peter gives three areas in which to check your motives. This is the fourth installment in an 8-part series called Preparing to Lead.
I am often asked by aspiring pastors, “What should I be most concerned about as I pursue ministry?” My response is always the same: “You should be most concerned about you.”
If you are a man wanting to serve the church as an elder, you need to check your motives before you hurt yourself, or worse yet, hurt Jesus’ church. Through the words of the Apostle Peter, here are some areas where you should examine yourself before you move forward:
1. Have to or want to?
Peter warns elders, “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you” (1 Pet. 5:2). Pastoral ministry is a labor of love, not a call to duty. A healthy pastor serves others because he wants to and not because he has to.
You should be most concerned about you.
Nothing kills morale in a church more than a pastor driven by obligation. The people under his care sniff it out like police dogs smell explosives. And it stinks!
2. For money or pleasure?
Peter says a pastor’s heart should be bent, “not for shameful gain, but eagerly” towards his service (1 Pet. 5:2).
While very few pastors make a lot of money by cultural standards, there are certainly perks to the position other than money. Church members love to serve pastors through free meals, tickets to games and concerts, vacation housing, gift certificates for date night, paid sabbaticals, and even donated big-ticket items. But those benefits are minor compared to the pleasure of having a front-row seat to watch Jesus change lives.
Nothing kills morale in a church more than a pastor driven by obligation.
A pastor who is rightly motivated hardly sleeps on Saturday nights because he can’t wait to see and serve Jesus’ people on Sundays.
3. Control or influence?
As a third warning to pastors, Peter tells them good leadership is, “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet. 5:3).
There are at least two paths toward leading Jesus’ people. A pastor can attempt to control them through fear and intimidation. This pastor often reminds people of his God-given authority and uses his position to bully those under his care into submission.
Pastoral ministry is a labor of love, not a call to duty.
A better path is through influence. The pastor walking this path understands that transformation is taught and caught. So he exemplifies what it looks like to think, feel, speak, and act like Jesus. He boldly says, “Follow me as I follow Jesus.”
Seeds are already planted
Aspiring leaders need to understand that bad pastor traits don’t begin once formal ministry starts. They are seeds already planted deep within your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart today for dead works, greed, and fear that will one day sprout into pastoral expressions of religious duty, shameful gain, and domination.
Then take what God shows you, own it, turn from it, and turn to Jesus for forgiveness and freedom. He will make you into a pastor who serves your people well because you love God and them.