Brian is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky and is the Founder and Ministry Development Director of Practical Shepherding, Inc. He’s also the author of numerous books, including his most recent, The Pastor’s Family. You can find out more about Brian on his website, Practical Shepherding.
You seem to have established a rather robust training program for men interested in ministry. What are some simple things a pastor can do to start raising up other men for the task of pastoral ministry?
Some of the best advice I ever received was to look for those men in your congregation who act and serve like a pastor, are fruitful like a pastor, love your people like a pastor, but do it all without the title and recognition. Look for those men. The other important thing a pastor can do to train and raise men up is to simply take them with him to do ministry. Take them to the hospital with you. Take them when you do a funeral. Take them to visit a widow. Let them sit in on your pastors meetings. Involve them in your sermon preparation. Teach by example and exposure.
I realize this takes a bit more time and planning, but it is worth it. Although we have spent almost ten years developing our training program at our church, how much our young guys learn is still largely dependent upon how much time I give them and allow them to accompany me. Every pastor can train future pastors. It takes a pastor to train a future pastor. All it requires is the time of an eager young brother and a pastor’s willingness to take time to bring him along in his daily grind to intentionally instruct.
In our increasingly screen-driven world, it’s easy for a pastor to somewhat distance himself from his people. He can think he’s in the trenches of ministry when he’s really sitting on the sidelines. How can a pastor fight against that temptation?
Face to face ministry is essential. A pastor must honestly evaluate how much time is spent communicating with his people through Facebook, Twitter, text and email, verses face to face in the hospital, their home and local coffee shops. This is especially a strong temptation for introverted pastors who get drained by being with people too much. Know yourself. Allow others in your life to hold you accountable to this. A lack of self-awareness for a pastor is a great danger in many respects, this being one of them.
When a guy comes to you and tells you he desires pastoral ministry, are there certain characteristics you look for in him?
Scripture must first be our guide when evaluating a young man’s desire for pastoral ministry (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). Ask yourself: do you see at least some evidence of these qualities in him? This blueprint needs to then be evaluated by the young man’s desire for the work (internal calling), and then by the pastors and congregation of his local church (external calling). Although those Scripture qualities are helpful, they are not exhaustive. So, here are 10 other characteristics I look for that I feel are not necessarily deal breakers, but nonetheless very important and fall within the frame work of the fruit of the spirit in a Christian’s life:
- A deep love and burden for people and souls
- A clear, personal love for Jesus
- A warmth in personality that people respond to well
- A unique ability to understand and explain God’s Word
- An ability to emotionally engage people both public and private
- A clear communicator
- An authentic, honest awareness of his heart and personal brokenness
- A humble teachable spirit
- A clear possession of wisdom and discernment into life and struggles
- A strong ability to empathize to a hurting person