This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
– 1 Timothy 3:1 (NKJV)
Some versions of the biblical text use the terms: bishop, overseer, elder, or leader. The pastoral epistles address two similar offices of the Christian church: elder and deacon. Both have similar requirements and responsibilities.
Let’s be honest. There is no quick fix or single handbook to answer it all. You will not find any bullet-pointed list or single-paged tip sheet that gives you every conceivable issue that falls at the feet or in the lap of the pastor. You had better be up on things in order to withstand what comes at you as a pastor, preacher, spiritual leader, deacon, or lay leader. You need to stay prayed up, studied up, and girded up. You need to stay up on certain things to make it through the day.
Preparation is vital. There is no substitute for preparation. Ask John C. Maxwell. He shares about his first pastoral experience and the blunders that he made due to his own naivety and inexperience. In layman’s terms, he just wasn’t prepared for everything that came his way. He made mistakes just like many young pastors, but he learned from each experience as he shares in many of his books like The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.
C.H. Spurgeon offers a sensational pastoral preparation in his timeless classic The Soulwinner. Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church also stands out as a modern masterpiece for establishing and leading a Christian church. Like I said, there is no single source that will supply the would-be pastoral leader with the exception of the Word of God.
To prepare to pastor, here are just a few key pointers once you have prayed and stayed in constant prayer about your calling to serve in such a Christian capacity:
- Study: Read the pastoral epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. These offer essentials for preparation from the perspective of Paul who mentored both Timothy and Titus.
- Serve: Serve in a variety of capacities that fit with your spiritual gifts. Teach the Bible, lead an outreach ministry, work on a community service project, or minister to the homeless or senior citizens. Find your ministry and fulfill your ministry.
- Seminary (or Theological School): Get into a steady stream of seminary classes. Gain the knowledge and techniques, but also glean from those who are already in the trenches. Listen to what they share. Match that up with what you have studied and what you have seen as you serve.