Could this candidate be your pastor?

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I’ve been in ministry 27 years now. I have lots of pastor friends. Frequently I get asked to be a reference for pastors who are in transition. When committees call me, I’ve noticed lately that they sometimes ask, “Could this person be your pastor?” It’s kind of a clever question, I guess, but what they don’t know is that a lot of guys could be my pastor who they might not consider. Because my pastor doesn’t necessarily have to be:

Young and good-looking

It would be okay. I wouldn’t hold it against him as an aging bald guy. It just wouldn’t be one of my criteria, necessarily. Plus, here’s what this really entails sometimes: the church wants a young guy because they believe in the “pastor’s sweet spot” rule. It says a pastor will attract people fairly close to his own age. Which is probably true if the church isn’t influenced by obstructionists who resist any change the young leader suggests. But I digress (kind of).

Seminary trained

I believe in seminary training. I’m definitely not against it. It just wouldn’t preclude the right person from serving as pastor for me. I think a dedicated reader and Bible student can succeed in ministry even if they have not had the benefit of seminary education.


 I want a guy who understands the Biblical qualifications and is striving to live them out, but let’s face it. Jesus couldn’t be the pastor to some church folk. If a church is going to call a guy and analyze his every defect like a bug under a microscope, of course he will fall short.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are some pastors who lack the moral qualities that the Bible requires to serve. But most of the time when pastors come under fire it’s for issues that could probably be worked through by reasonably mature people who take the emotion out and look for collaborative ways to move forward together.

Thom Rainer says a pastor’s most productive years are years 5-7, but in most churches pastors turn over every 3 years, so the pastor can never get to the most potentially fruitful season of his ministry.

Yeah, that guy could be my pastor. But I would be praying for his ministry, loving him in Christ, holding up his arms like Aaron and Hur (Ex. 17:12-14), and not having outsized, fundamentally unreasonable expectations of him. 

So it’s a loaded question for me.

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