So I believe there should be a prerequisite to becoming a pastor.
You want to know what it is? Ok – well, I will tell you.
You have to go through life. The sufferings of life that is.
You see, I’ve been to multiple church services in my lifetime all around the world. And the ones that really resonate with me are the sermons that tell stories, not just Bible stories. The Bible stories are Great, don’t get me wrong. But I prefer stories from our time to connect with the Biblical stories.
If a pastor were to get on stage and tell me a story from the Bible which would provide context for a scripture they would reference, that is Great! But I am looking for more as crazy as that may sound.
The stories of the Bible I do believe are applicable for every generation, but I feel as if we have to use what is happening in the world today to connect our time to the Biblical time. If that makes any sense.
Ok, here is an example.
Instead of just saying Job, in the Bible, lost it all and cursed the day he was born to relate to people in the congregation who are suffering and don’t want to live, we should bring in a story from our generation that relates. It could be the pastor saying he or she or someone they knew lost their job, wife and kids and felt as if they had no reason to live anymore. They then turned to God and saw their life turn around similar to Job.
I don’t know about you, but that would motivate me if I were in that situation and even if I weren’t! It’s not just seeing Job’s situation turn around, but knowing that things like that still happen today and God still heals like He did back then today too.
If we bring in stories from our day-and-age, I believe it will connect better with everyone we are speaking to because they feel as if they can connect with those people. Better than they might feel as if they can connect with someone who lived many, many years ago like Job for instance.
But sometimes the pastor may not have a friend who struggled like Job. So how does a pastor then reach an audience and correlate scripture from back in the day to our day?
He or she has to suffer.
They have to suffer for the greater good of the Kingdom of God. And though the suffering may hurt and be very, VERY painful – they have to continually remind themselves that the suffering they are going through is only temporary as we see in 2 Corinthians 4:17. But also that it will not just benefit them, but the world which so badly needs Jesus Christ.
But in order to bring others to Christ, we have to develop and become more like Christ first. Though Christ was perfect, He suffered. He was tempted by the devil, beat, felt abandoned by God, suffered from loneliness, had a fit of anger and so much more. Why did Christ experience so many things? Because He didn’t just come into the world to save us, but to live like us and show us that it is possible to overcome the world and the enemy in it.
Christ also came down into the world to teach us that suffering can be good if we understand it better.
Suffering is good because we learn way more from suffering than from just living an easy breezy life. As I keep referring back to in Romans 5:3-5 (one of my favorite scriptures), we develop “character,” “perseverance,” “hope,” amongst so many other traits. Character embodies humbleness, sympathy, compassion, love, or if we really just want to get specific here:
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
– Galatians 5: 22-23 (New International Version)
Those are the qualities Christ embodied. But in order to obtain those qualities we have to suffer.
So when I see a pastor who is just preaching messages from the Bible – Great messages – don’t get me wrong, I am like, “where is their personal connection to it?” Because I start to feel like a child and become restless. Looking at my watch seeing how much more time is left. As I can’t seem to relate to anything the pastor is saying.
But if a pastor were to say they struggled with depression back in the day. That they hated God or were frustrated with God at points in their life, I would become more interested. Then if the pastor made mention to David, who also was angry at God at points in his life too then I would become even more interested. Hearing the pastors story of hurt then correlating it to someone in the Bible would encourage me to open up my Bible more.
Because for kids and adults the Bible can be VERY intimidating! Not only do some people not know where to start, but how to read it even.
I’ve talked with a friend recently who put down the Bible, but encouraged me to read a book from this day-and-age. Now that I have time to think about it, I now know why he pushed me to read this newer book. Because it relates to this day and age and he may believe the Bible is too old school and doesn’t relate to the world now.
Pastors, we have to do better.
I know some probably are, as I cannot speak for all pastors. But, in my opinion, it is not enough to just be the son or daughter of a pastor then just take over and continue on as your family member did before you. You have to ask God, “how can I become the pastor you want me to be?” even if all the men before you preached the Word of God a certain way.
God may want to take you on a different path than them because He sees the state of this world.
You may become a pastor that preaches completely different than all of your family members before you. And if my son or daughter ever wants to preach the Word of God, I will tell them the same. Even if I become a pastor my own self.
And that’s to not follow me or how I preach. To ask God first if preaching God’s Word is for them and if so, please direct them into their own ministry and way to serve. Build them up in the faith in the way God sees fit. Because we are all created uniquely by God and by no means do I want my son or daughter to feel as if they have to be a carbon copy of me even if I have a successful church one day.
I want them to embrace who God created them to be and the ministry God has for them. Even if that means they have to suffer tremendously for it. I guarantee it will be worth it in the end.
So yeah, pastors in my opinion have to go through life to become great. To me it’s not about what undergraduate school you went to or what graduate program either you attended. It’s not about all the certifications or credentials you have.
It’s about life and how you overcame suffering in your life. Did you even allow suffering to enter your life?
If I were called to bring in new pastors at my church, my first question wouldn’t be what Seminary school did you attend, but rather tell me about your life. If they say they attended and passed with flying colors from the top Seminary school in the nation, but hadn’t experienced suffering in life barely at all, I would be extremely hesitant. This is not to say they wouldn’t become a Great pastor. It’s just I know personally how a personal testimony could bring more people to the faith than the most well spoken Bible passage.
So I would have to pray and ask God heavily on this.
I wouldn’t be swayed by the schooling this person received a degree from. I would be more swayed if the person hadn’t even gone to Seminary yet, but had been through a tremendous amount of suffering in life and stuck close to God through it all. That would move me. But I would pray in both scenarios.
If I were a leader in my church and had full rains of my church to develop pastors, I would have classes on each book of the Bible. So that they could better understand each book and the stories and characters within them. Then I would have a class on how to stand on stage and preach throwing in some practice sessions. Then I would have Bible prep classes to teach pastors how to prepare themselves each week to preach God’s Word. Outside of that – that’s it. Those would be my basic, fundamental classes to get pastors started.
Of coarse there is outreach, missionary work, youth, small groups and so much more. But those are the fundamentals in my opinion to get pastors started. Of coarse basic reading classes if pastors need help in reading.
But beyond that I would tell them to live life.
I would tell them to go out into the world and allow God to not just build up their ministry, but show them their ministry. I believe Rick Warren when he says “your greatest ministry will stem out of your greatest hurt.”
Suffering is needed to develop your ministry. Suffering is needed to find your ministry.
But having a group of men and women who you know are suffering too for the faith will encourage you to keep pressing forward. And when those men and women from church don’t answer their phones or text you back, you can open up your Bibles and know that Job, David, Paul and so many others suffered too, so keep on pushing.
It will be worth it in the end.