8 Reasons I’d Love to Be a Pastor Again

I served as a senior pastor for fourteen years in Ohio prior to becoming a seminary professor in 1996. To be honest, I think often about those days. I realize the Lord has not placed me in the role of pastor for this season of life, but I miss shepherding a local church.

I know pastoring includes tough days. Sometimes “power players” are a thorn in a pastor’s side. Sermon preparation is time consuming. Many church members struggle with change that threatens the status quo. Nevertheless, here are some of the reasons I would return to pastoring if the Lord so allowed.

  1. The pastor’s responsibility carries eternal significance. A quick reading of Hebrews 13:17b makes this point clear: “they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account” (HCSB). Pastors are undershepherds called to care for and lead the flock entrusted to them. The responsibility is huge – but so is the privilege.
  2. A pastor shares all of life with others. The pastor is often one of the first to celebrate a birth. He’s invited to celebrate birthdays, graduations, promotions . . .  and most importantly, Christian conversion. He provides a shoulder in times of difficulty, and he’s there when death occurs. To my knowledge, no one else has this level of opportunity to walk through life with others.
  3. A pastor preaches the Word each week to a particular church family. He gets to help a congregation understand the Word from Genesis to Revelation. Each week, he has opportunity to dig into the Scriptures and then help a local body of Christ understand and apply them well. What a blessing to see eyes light up when a believer learns a new truth from the Word!
  4. The pastor sees the transforming power of the gospel at work. Sometimes, he is one of the few persons who know another person’s sin history – and thus he knows best the power of the gospel. Yes, he has seen tragedy, but he has also seen families restored, wayward children returning, addicts set free, the weak made strong, and the lost redeemed.
  5. A pastor has opportunity to learn from others. The pastor is a teacher, but he also has a congregation who might teach him as well. I love the nations today because a missions leader in my church told me as a young pastor, “If you’re going to be our preacher, you need to be committed to missions.” Another leader introduced me to the importance of small groups. I’m a better man today because church members have taught me through the years.
  6. A pastor’s work touches the world. The pastor preaches the Word and shepherds the sheep – and those sheep share the gospel with their neighbors and the nations. Some give their lives to full-time missionary service, and others serve as short-term volunteers. The gospel flourishes somewhere today because a pastor challenged a church to take seriously the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).
  7. Pastors do not work alone. God not only calls pastors to the role, but He also empowers them to fulfill their calling through His indwelling Spirit. God then builds His church (Matt. 16:18), giving a pastor members of the Body to walk with him and serve beside him. Pastoral work may be lonely at times, but pastors are never alone.
  8. There is always a better day coming. Undoubtedly, pastors face difficult challenges. Hope, though, is never lost. Pastors who preach faith also have the privilege of marching forward in faith. God still reigns, and He will complete His plan.

What do you love about pastoring? If you are a layperson, what do you appreciate about what your pastor does?

37 Comments

  • Marty says:

    And your love for the pastorate shows, even during an interim, Dr Lawless. My daughter is a member of a church you served as interim a couple of years ago, and she loved your teaching and was so blessed during that time.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Thanks, Marty. I do indeed love the pastorate.

  • Randy Mellichamp says:

    Here are many reasons that I love being a pastor and some that make me not enjoy being a pastor at times. But after being in ministry for a while, I love seeing families coming to faith over time. This month we will see a young man graduate from high school and enter a great college. He was invited to church by a friend and had no family involvement at the time.

    Over the next few weeks and months, this young man came to salvation personally and brought his entire family to church and a new awakening of faith. Recently his mother, as their family came to join in membership and baptism, said to me, “Thank you for bringing my family back to God.” Huge words!

    That joy and that moment will be one I remember for my life.

  • It’s not always easy but I’m grateful to be a pastor because that means I get to study deeply, serve sacrificially, and pray for people in need. My own spiritual growth deepens because I get to practice sacrificial love towards (and with) my church family every week. It’s similar to how my family makes me a less self-centered person (how can I think about myself when we are potty training our youngest and I know my wife needs a date night?). Knowing that others need prayer, and need to hear the gospel, to be encouraged, and to be challenged motivates me to become a better pastor but more importantly to become a more faithful follower of Jesus. Thanks, church, for letting me be your pastor!

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Thanks, Nathan. I know you have the privilege of being the first pastor of your church. Praying for you as establish the DNA of this congregation.

  • All eight of these reasons resonate deeply. Number five — learning — is especially significant. This is among the best motivators for serving a congregation. Pastoral ministry is an excellent place to grow up toward the full stature of Christ. Surrounded by a multi-generational (and perhaps also multi-cultural) group of believers, the pastor teaches and lives faith in community, not solo. The pastor shapes the faith of the community, the faith and the experience of the community shape the pastor. Pastoral ministry is a paid internship in developing the Christian faith. As such, it is uniquely valuable.

  • Beau Hart says:

    One of the things I love most about being a preacher is watching God work in the lives of His people. As you read the Bible you see God working, but it’s still just pages in a book. But as a preacher, you get to witness God working in the lives of the people around you. It isn’t just pages in a book, God is still alive. God is still caring for His people. The same God that parted the red sea is still working. The same God that created the universe in just 7 days is till working mightily in people’s lives. It’s a great thing to witness. I am so glad God called me into ministry. God is great and I am blessed 🙂

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Thanks, Beau. Sounds like you’re a preacher! 🙂

  • Jordan Cramer says:

    I love that my pastor stands firm in preaching the Word of God. He takes on issues at times that are not popular, but stands behind the conviction to preach all of God’s Word. He is also vulnerable in telling the congregation when he fails because he wants to point them to Jesus rather than himself. My pastor is a wonderful man, who loves Jesus, and desires to see the world come to know Christ. I am forever grateful for his teaching and leadership.

  • Landon Coleman says:

    Great post and reminder of a few joys related to pastoring … Things easy to forget but worth remembering and be thankful for!

  • Nghiem Tran says:

    I love to see my people’s life are changing day after day. Actually, it did not happen immediately. It took many months or even several years. Many times I felt frustrated, even wanted to quit. However, the transformation did happen. I am really encouraged and thankful. Once, I could see the change when I heard the prayer of a member. I could sense that her prayer were different. She was praying as if she were talking with her Father. Another time, it was when one of new believers started sharing the gospel to her aunt in Vietnam. She told me that she felt more comfortable sharing the gospel on the phone. I think it was a good start for her.

  • Having served the same church and community for a!most 23 yes carries a deep satisfaction and a constant dissatisfaction. Watching g people grow- a true privilege. Knowing how sin is so deeply ingrained in people’s lives and in the social structures still grieves me deeply.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Steve, you’ve hit on the other side of pastoring. You grow to love your folks so much that you grieve their sin.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Thanks, friend. I am grateful you did not quit. God is good.

  • Daniel Flynn says:

    One of the great blessings of the pastorate is fellow pastors that have touched my life… And the occasion to touch other pastors likewise! As I read your list, I was reminded of a time you were there for my family! It was not just a random guy there for us, it was a close friend, and a wonderful man of God!
    Well written and well said my friend, nothing in the world better than the pastorate! Can’t imagine doing anything but loving people and preaching the Gospel!

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      I remember that time well, Daniel. I learned as much from your family during that time as I was privileged to give.

  • It is great to see your heart for the local church, Dr. Lawless. As someone who is not a pastor but in a position that allows me to have a bit of an idea of what the pastorate involves, I can say that I appreciate everything my pastor does. For that matter, I appreciate everything that any biblically sound pastor of a local church does. I’m not saying that to back out of directly answering the question. I really do think that everything pastors do is incredibly important, as it is really a job that doesn’t end when the traditional workday is over.

    I never understood how trying — and ultimately, rewarding — it is to be a pastor. I thank God for all of His servants He upholds on a daily basis and for the next generation of godly men He is raising up to be under-shepherds of His people.

    While you might not be leading a local church at the moment, Dr. Lawless, you’re being used mightily by God to train up those who will be doing just that either here in the United States or abroad. What a venerable ministry that is!

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    “Trying, but ultimately rewarding” — you do understand the work of a pastor, Madison. Thanks for your affirmation of church leaders.

  • Heartspeak says:

    You know– it’s kind of funny, but in a sad way. The very things that you enjoy about being a pastor are really what those of us who sit in the pew would enjoy too. You say you miss those things. How is it that you don’t see them so much anymore? No accusation intended here but I do find this significant and perhaps revealing of a greater issue.

    For me, the emphasis on the exposition and music on a Sunday pretty much precludes any of the rest of us from ‘seeing’ these types of things.

    Maybe if we worked more on sharing and exposing the growth, trials and triumphs of those supposedly in commmunity with us, we would all be able to share in this joy of which you speak….

    Sadly, in my recent quest for a church home (after a geographic relocation), I’ve wanted to see those things celebrated as well and even have a part in them. But, mostly, the only things I ‘see’ have little to do with God’s work in our lives and more to do with things of little to no eternal value.

    It all points towards the previous post regarding why it’s easier to not attend church. Don’t think they’re not related–they are!

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Thanks, Heartspeak, for your honesty. It’s not that I don’t see those things in local churches today (including the church plant where my wife and I are members). I do see them, both in North America and around the world. What I miss is the day-to-day interaction a pastor has with people and the week-to-week proclaiming to the same folks.

  • Brandon Watkins says:

    I am not a pastor, even though I am in seminary. I am very thankful for those I have been privileged to call my pastor. I have seen them go through times of struggle emotionally and physically. They have always preached the Word faithfully. I don’t think that we as church members really grasp what Madison said above: the work of a pastor is trying, but ultimately rewarding. This article was really helpful for me, and I hope to one day be able experience what you have shared in this article, Dr. L. Thank you for your instruction this semester and for passing on your knowledge as both seminary professor and pastor.

  • Nell king says:

    Chuck, I sure do miss you and I loved the time you peach as intermin at WBC.
    Please lift our church up as you pray. God bless you in your work,

  • Pastoring for me is contextual. I have shifted to enjoy pastoring in my community and anywhere I go. It is a global calling just as much as it is a local calling. What I really enjoy is the people and the supernatural moments/circumstances that God invites me too. Sometimes God doesnt want me to serve…sometimes He just wants me to watch and witness His glory as He does incredible things…just like the angels who witness His grace and are awestruck by it. Other times He invites me to get my hands dirty and deliver some spiritual babies! In the end…pastoring is most enjoyable because God gives me the front row seat to what He is doing or about to do and sometimes He lets me play a role.

  • Wayne A. Rhodes, M. Div., Ph.D. says:

    Dear Thom and Chuck,

    I retired a year ago from 47 years of pastoral ministry (7 were as a student pastor) and 22 years as a Naval Chaplain. I took what you gentlemen taught me in 2001-2002 and put it to work in my last call. In an eleven year period, there were 94 adult Professions of Faith and 21 adult baptisms. The number of small study group has grown from 4 to 28. Thank you.

    I miss that moment when you know the Holy Spirit is anointing the preaching. I miss those gestalt moments when the light of understanding goes on in the life of a member of a small group. I miss the honor of walking with someone from the bondage of the past to a life of grace. Those moments were sacramental. The ministry was fun in the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Somewhere in the mid 90’s it began to change. That was probably a function of society and my moving from the role of “shepherd” to “rancher”. Today, I think that the most difficult aspect of pastoral ministry is the distinct differences between generations as to pastoral roles and what it means to be a church.

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