There is a saying, especially if you are an entrepreneur, that goes like this: “Grab life by the horns! Chase your dreams! Go out there and take it.”
That doesn’t work for me.
I have been called by God to be a preacher. I do not doubt that at all.
However, my problem lies with the qualifications that some churches have for preachers.
The guidelines for a preacher are given in 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy 4, and Titus.
What I seem to consistently run into is the qualifications for being a preacher at some churches have nothing to do with the Bible at all.
I know what I have been called to do. The main thing that I struggle with is that whether or not I can actually do what God has called me to do, depends on the opinions of a room of a few people (most who have never been preachers) and who are judging me before I even have a conversation with them.
I imagine that these rooms are less like King Arthur’s Round Table and more like Donald Trump’s boardroom in The Apprentice.
I am being judged by a piece of paper, or based on memories from a decade or more past, and not based on what the Bible says.
Questions that some churches ask are:
- How many books have you written?
- How many degrees do you have?
- What is the largest crowd that you have ever spoken to?
- What school did you graduate from?
- Do you have any videos or DVDs?
Can you tell me what any of those have to do with being a preacher? Can you show me in Timothy or Titus where God cares at all about how many books a pastor has written, what school they graduated from, or how many degrees that they have?
Those churches don’t want a preacher. They want a CEO.
When I was interviewing for pastoral positions, there was a lot that pastor search teams didn’t know about me.
- Every book that I used at Luther Rice came from Amazon. Most books and texts that are used in seminary can be found on Amazon.
- Seminary classes can be found on YouTube, iTunes, Podcasts and online workshops.
- I have learned more from books that I have read or conferences that I have attended, than I did writing papers.
- I am a big believer that a preacher is responsible for his own growth.
- I love to read books by Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, Criswell, John MacArthur, John Piper, and Matt Chandler. These are some of the people both dead and alive that have helped me grow, mature, and be a better preacher.
- I took a preaching class and never preached a sermon.
- I shouldn’t have to go in debt to fulfill the calling that God has placed on my life.
So what questions should these pastor search teams be asking me (and other pastors)?
- What kind of marriage do I have?
- Am I faithful to my wife?
- Do I love my boys?
- What kind of dad am I?
- Can I explain the Scriptures in a way that makes it easier for you to grasp and understand?
- Am I able to lead other men to love their wives and children?
- Do I know how to preach the Word and clearly communicate the Gospel?
- Am I sober-minded?
- Am I self-controlled?
- Am I hospitable?
- Do other people think well of me?
- Do I love Jesus?
If you want to judge pastors, judge them according to the qualifications set for them by God in the Bible.
The church is a family, not an organization.
The preacher is the under-shepherd leading the church to the Shepherd.
The Bible does not tell the preacher to lead the church like a CEO runs an organization.
The Bible clearly says that a preacher is supposed to lead the church like he leads his family.
There is nothing wrong with seminary.
There is nothing wrong with staff or setting systems in place.
However, you need to clarify exactly what you want in a preacher.
For me, I love Jesus.
I love my wife.
I love my boys.
I love reading and preaching the Bible.
So, as of right now, I am not “grabbing life by the horns” or “chasing my dreams.”
I am praying that there are people in a room somewhere praying for me as much as I am praying for them. I am praying that God would allow us to meet and that they would love my family as much as my family loves them. I am praying that whichever church calls me next to be their shepherd that they would be faithful and loving members—wanting to learn and grow and do life together. The next church that God places me in is where I would like to finish out my ministry over the rest of my life. The church that God places my family in would be the church that we call home.
Grace and peace to you, Lions.
ThM suggests “Grade Your Pastor: Numbers are Just Numbers” by John Mallonee