Am I called to be a pastor?
First of all, Paul says that if a man desires that office, he desires a noble work (1 Tim. 3:1). But the test in 1 Timothy 3 is necessary: Is he qualified? The church lays those qualifications down and affirms, and then the elders lay hands on that individual.
It starts with a desire of the heart. If your heart desires to be pastor, it’s confirmed by the leadership of the church that you have the character qualifications and the skill to teach, and there is fruitfulness when you do teach, then that’s the direction you go.
We don’t have time to talk about the whole issue, but there is an entrepreneurial pastoral trend going on now where someone decides he wants to be a pastor, so he goes, gets a storefront, turns it into a church, ordains himself, and makes himself the pastor. That is alien to anything Scriptural.
You need to be careful. Not many should become teachers, as James says, because theirs is a greater condemnation (James 3:1). You don’t want the condemnation that comes with a failure. You’d better be sure you have the gifts and the purity of heart to get into pastoral ministry. This freewheeling approach where people are basically autocratic rather than the product of careful, prayerful evaluation by mature, godly elders placing them into ministry has created massive problems in the church.
If you think pastoral ministry is something you want to do, get into a church where you can be mentored by the leadership and pastors of that church. As you grow and develop the skills—and they affirm those skills—then you’ll know.
At the end of the day, I would say this: if you can do something else, do it. If you can do something else, there will be many days when you wish you could. This is something for people who can’t do anything else.
This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with John MacArthur and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.