Sometimes the ministry brings so many demanding situations that it is easy to become overwhelmed. Those with great needs are always in our hearts and schedules as we serve the Lord by serving them. Isn’t it interesting that the Lord Jesus said, “Ye have the poor always with you” (Mark 14:7)? As I read this statement, I tend to emphasize the word “always.” It is possible to have so many counseling needs that we’re trying to meet that we lose sight of the joy and privilege that is ours to serve.
A number of years ago a publication asked me to write a short article about the characteristics that I believe are essential to be a good pastor. Every pastor knows he must stay fresh in sermon preparation, joyful in reaching people at some of the worst times of their lives, and keeping focused on the call to be a pastor. With these three things in mind, I sat down and listed on paper ten things that I wanted to consistently demonstrate in my personal life and ministry.
I entitled it, “If I Was Looking for a Pastor….”
I would look for a man:
1. Who has a real hunger for God’s Word. Does he believe the Bible is the inspired Word of the Lord? Does he esteem the Scriptures as the Word of God that is without error and fully sufficient for preaching and pastoral practice? Does he not only love the Word of God but the Author of the Word, too? Is the Lord becoming more and more precious to him?
2. Who is wise enough to know that he still has a lot to learn. Is he willing to learn from past mistakes and is he eager to continue maturing?
3. Who is a reader and a student. Is this man expanding his horizons as it relates to current events, trends, and important information?
4. Who is common. I do not want someone who thinks himself way above me or beyond me. Will he be able to identify with my hurts, struggles, and temptations?
5. Who is deeply, firmly, and fully in love with his wife.
6. Who knows that the only possessions in life and on the earth that he can keep forever are his children; thus, he never allows his ministry to cost the well-being of his children.
7. Who is willing to become a better manager of his time and who is willing to accept new challenges.
8. Who will be able to laugh, play, and have fun with me without being silly or foolish in his actions.
9. Who will be honest in admitting his shortcomings and determined to do better because he is homesick for Heaven and longs to please the Chief Shepherd for Whom he works.
10. Who loves his congregation and reminds them often of how special they are to the Lord and to him. Because of his love for them, he needs the courage to tell them the truth and the compassion to tell them the truth in a loving manner.
These are the characteristics that I would look for if I was looking for a pastor. They need to be evident in my life as I serve the Lord and yours as well. No matter how busy you become in your pastoral counseling practice, keep these ten essential characteristics in your mind and lived out in your heart and life.