10 Characteristics of Pastors I’ve Trusted

I’ve written in the past about why church members don’t always trust pastors (check here and here). At the same time, though, I love pastors – and I want to be helpful. So, here are characteristics of pastors I’ve known well and trusted completely:

  1. When they preach the Word, the story is never about them. They may use personal illustrations, but they do so in a way that never points the attention toward them. They keep the focus on God.
  2. Their humility is obvious. This is an interesting characteristic in that humble people would never claim to be humble. You just know it when you see it – and these pastors show it.
  3. Their families adore them. If you want to know if a pastor is genuine, check with his family. Families who love them and follow them are saying, “We believe in you.”
  4. Other leaders I trust also trust them. When men I trust point me to other leaders who are trustworthy, I listen to them. Some of my strongest friendships with pastors began when another pastor directed me to them.
  5. They have a track record of faithfulness. I realize that this characteristic in some ways excludes young leaders, but I trust you understand my point: it’s easier to trust leaders who’ve led for some time with effectiveness and faithfulness. Veterans who continually serve well garner trust.
  6. They genuinely listen well. When I’m talking with these pastors—all busy men in their own work—I feel like they’re giving me their undivided attention. They hear my words. They ask questions. They don’t check their phones. They listen.
  7. They confront in a way that’s encouraging. They have a gift for pointing out your areas of needed improvement and somehow make you feel good about it. They’re shepherds who want to help sheep grow.
  8. I’ve never heard them talk behind someone’s back. I’m sure they have stories they could tell, but they don’t. If I’ve never heard them talk about somebody else, it’s easier to trust that they’re not talking about me behind my back.
  9. They’re willing to admit their own failures. They’re still growing themselves, and they’re unafraid to admit it. They even ask for help and guidance—and that’s deeply humbling.
  10. Prayer matters to them. They pray when I’m with them, even if it’s just a brief prayer for me. Their prayer life says, “I love God, I need Him, and I can’t do this work without His help.” I can trust a leader who thinks that way.

What characteristics would you add to this list? 


  • Mark says:

    I don’t care if the pastor is male or female. They talk to everyone and don’t judge. I well remember being in college and talking to a Methodist minister out on the sidewalk after a wedding who seemed quite personable. He was much nicer than any minister I had ever been around and seemed to have the time to chat and was not judgmental of my being in college. (I saw too many ministers/pastors judge all college students as heathens and issue blanket condemnations to hell.) He did not seem to mind having just had a church full of people who were not his parishioners. I guess I felt like I could have talked to him without being fearful.

  • Heather says:

    Great list and so true! I would add: they unapologeticly preach the Word. They are concerned with preaching the truth of Scripture rather than being concerned with whose feelings they might hurt or how unpopular they themselves might become.

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