Whenever someone considers becoming a pastor, all sorts of images come to mind. While it is a good idea to entertain the concept of a spiritual calling, one must keep in mind that it is a career with demands and pressures just like any other. Although a pastor must ultimately answer to God, the avocation entails earthly responsibilities, such as bookkeeping, marketing, organization, and outreach. No matter how spiritual the job appears at first blush, it is a challenging, worldly career as well. If one begins to explore the pastoral calling in terms of practical requirements and spiritual demands, much will be revealed. While no list of helpful tips will cover all the bases, there are five major areas that should be addressed.
Talk to pastors whom you admire. This is perhaps the best way to get a realistic vision of what the job entails. Approach several working pastors who are willing to give you some of their time. You are likely to discover that pastors truly enjoy helping others in this way. See if you can spend a day or two shadowing a pastor through his or her routine. As is the case with other career choices, on-the-job experience is worth more than theoretical knowledge.
Read as much as you can about the profession. This tip applies to just about any career path. A pastoral career is complex, and a healthy dose of diverse reading material will go a long way toward informing the prospective pastoral candidate.
It should go without saying that prayer is a key component in the career exploration phase for future pastors. One’s relationship with the Lord must be solid if a pastoral career is going to work. Daily prayer for several months, as a minimum, should precede any firm decision to enter the profession.
Get a well-rounded education. The life of a pastor requires multiple skill sets and varied talents. Rather than focusing on one particular academic pursuit, many experienced pastors recommend either a liberal arts or general studies degree. Pastoral candidates are rarely called upon to be specialists, so a wide range of college coursework is appropriate.
Do not rush into the decision to become a pastor. No one decides to become a surgeon or attorney on the spur of the moment. Neither should a young person hastily choose the pastorate. Unlike many secular careers, the pastorate is a calling. If one truly, authentically hears that calling and chooses to respond to it, a long preparation is still necessary. Doctors and lawyers spend several years getting ready to work in their chosen jobs. Someone who has heard the calling to become a pastor should view things the same way. Be prepared to get a good education, to attend a seminary if possible, and to read widely on the subject.
Those who are called by God to join the pastorate are blessed. It is the responsibility of those chosen few to prepare themselves as thoroughly as possible. By following a sensible course of action, one can enter the pastorate with confidence.