For starters, I need to make a few caveats. First, I’m not in ministry yet. I’m certainly headed in that direction, but these are some things I’ve learned while on that path. Second, I haven’t done all of this perfectly. Just because I’m recommending that you do these things doesn’t mean that I was a success in these areas. Finally, even if you aren’t planning on going into vocational ministry, these pointers may help you think about how you or your church can help a guy who is!
A Personal Walk with God
- Praying Scripture: after you read the passage and certainly before you teach it, take some time to reduce the text into a series of praises and requests. Write these out and pray them to God.
- Stillness: As a guy prepping for ministry, your life is a chaotic mess. I’ve been there. Use your commute to school or work as a time for quiet meditation. Turn off the radio. Don’t pull out your phone. Spend some time with God. If you don’t have this opportunity, find another time in your schedule when you can spend this time of quiet and meditation.
- Tuning Your Emotions: As a student of Scripture, you’ll be inclined to make the Bible an academic exercise or perhaps a sheer volitional effort. Have you forgotten that the Law of God is a delight? Have you ever told your Father that you love him? Do you get excited about going to worship your God? Do people see your overflowing joy? God wants your whole person: mind, will, and emotions.
Openness and Accountability
- Committing to a local church. See below.
- Seeking out men from the church to study and pray with. Meet with a group of 4 or 5 guys throughout the week. Engage with them and begin sharing the ways that God is working in your life.
- Developing close accountability relationships with 1 or 2 men. Maybe these guys are part of the previous group, but regardless, these men need to be ones that you’re willing to be 100% honest with regarding your struggles. They’ll be able to provide you with invaluable insight as you head into the ministry.
Support from a Local Body of Believers
- Formally introducing you to likeminded churches as approved for Gospel ministry
- Providing a paid internship
- Funding your education
- Initiating an ordination council
- Hiring you as full-time staff
- Becoming your sending church
- Age and maturity. I’ve seen very few fresh-faced college grads who have the maturity and fortitude for pastoral ministry. Be patient during your 20’s. It’s okay if God in his providence delays your entrance into ministry.
- Family. Develop your relationship with your wife and maybe even experience having a child before you head out into ministry. The marriage relationship requires a substantial learning curve, and your first child will also tax you and your wife to the breaking point. Trying to clear these hurdles while also acclimating to the complexities and demands of ministry may be more than necessary. Another advantage of waiting for the blessing of family is that having a family better equips you to deal with the needs of the congregation — most of which have families.
- Life experience. Your experience in the corporate world will serve you well in ministry. Pastors who rush into ministry without real-world experience often struggle to make real applications in a number of areas. For example, it’s one thing to tell people in the pew that they need to be sharing the Gospel in their workplaces, but it’s wholly different to be able to explain how to navigate the complexities of the work environment while sharing the Gospel at the same time.
- Cultural experience. Read the classics. Read from atheists and heretics. Read the Puritans and Church Fathers. Study creeds and confessions. Watch old and new movies. Listen to a broad range of music and enjoy poetry. Learn a language. Travel. Meet and talk with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Then take all of that experience and bring it into your ministry.