The Pathway to Pastoral Ministry – Feeling Inadequate

This series of posts is to encourage and guide young men who are interested in pastoral ministry. I am laying out, step by step, what the path is like from first thoughts to being called to a pastoral position. Here are posts 1, 2, and 3. Now let’s talk about an issue that may hinder you from seriously considering the ministry as your calling in life.

Feeling Inadequate
You might hesitate to pursue being a pastor because you feel inadequate. The role and responsibilities of a pastor seem too great for you. You’re not sure you should be explaining the Bible to people. You hardly understand it yourself!

You are reluctant to try to help other people overcome sin. You have your own sin struggles! You hear a pastor preach, and you can’t imagine yourself ever being able to preach like that.

Feelings of inadequacy are normal. In fact, if you think you can do ministry with your own natural ability, you are probably viewing it wrongly. Ministry is human activity, but it is also a result of the supernatural work of God. He enables you to do what He calls you to do.

The Apostle Paul wrestled with his own inadequacy to minister the Gospel. He said, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16).

God Makes You Sufficient
Thankfully Paul didn’t stop there. A few sentences later, he answered himself, saying, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant” (3:5).

It’s true – you are inadequate. But God makes up the difference. He enables you to do what you can’t naturally do. If God wants you on the pathway to pastoral ministry, He will help you each step of the way.

“Our eyes are on you”
One of my favorite prayers in the Bible was prayed by King Jehoshaphat when he was about to be attacked by a million-man army of enemy nations. In desperation and dependence, he said, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

I’ve often prayed in a similar way as a pastor. The responsibilities are greater than I am, and I’ve faced many issues where I don’t know what to say or do. I just pray, “God, this is way beyond me. But I’m trusting you to help me.” He always does. He will do the same for you.

Part of thinking about being a pastor is understanding what pastors actually do. We’ll talk about that next.

The Pathway to Pastoral Ministry – Get Involved

Part of my life’s mission is to encourage young men considering pastoral ministry. I hope these articles will be helpful. If you haven’t already read them, here are the first and second posts. Now for a quick one.

One of the simplest steps you can take as you consider being a pastor is to get involved in ministry. “Ministry” is not just the name of a profession. It is serving. To minister is to serve.

There are ways you can be serving in your church right now. Getting involved in ministry will help you know whether it is your life’s calling or not.

Talk with your pastor or other leader in your church and offer to help in any way that is needed. You may be asked to serve in practical ways such as greeting, ushering, or setting up for events. You might even be asked to share a testimony, give a short message, or visit someone along with your pastor.

If your church does Vacation Bible School or something similar, that is a great time experience ministry. Some Christian camps use teens and young adults for counselors. Volunteer for a week or more!

If your church has small group settings such as Life Groups, Community Groups, or anything like that, get involved in one. Even if not many guys your age attend, give it a try. The church body connects in these settings, and you will discover opportunities to serve other believers. If you’re unsure how to get involved, ask the group leader.

These are all good ways to taste ministry. They also enable people around you to observe your life. These people may encourage you to pursue further opportunities to serve, which can be an indication that you are meant for a life of ministry.

In the next post we’ll talk about addressing your feelings of inadequacy as you consider pastoral ministry.

The Pathway to Pastoral Ministry – Three Basic Steps

I believe it will help young men who are interested in pastoral ministry to receive encouragement and guidance. If you haven’t already, read Getting Started. Now let’s talk about three more basic steps you can take.

Read Relevant Scripture
A very important and helpful basic step is reading relevant sections of the Bible. Here are a few suggestions. The first two relate to seeking God’s direction for your life. The rest are about the ministry.
Romans 12:1-2
Psalm 25
Acts 20:28
Ephesians 4:1-16
1 Timothy 1:12-14
1 Timothy 3:1-7
1 Peter 5:1-4

You might want to read one of these passages a day for a week. Think about each one and how it impacts you. Journal your thoughts. Pray for God to use His Word to guide you. There may be parts you don’t understand or that you want to learn more about. Ask your pastor to explain them to you.

If God is directing you toward ministry, these passages will probably intrigue you. You will want to understand more of what pastoral ministry involves. You might even feel excited about the possibility.

Pray for God to Direct You
Prayer is another basic step in considering pastoral ministry. If you haven’t prayed much before or aren’t sure what to pray about, now is a good time to learn! The Bible actually provides examples of what to pray for. Let’s look at two places in the Bible that can help you pray about God’s direction for your life.

The first is Psalm 25:4-5. This is one of the passages for reading that was suggested above. This Psalm contains several requests that have to do with knowing what God wants you to do. You can adopt these words as your own or rephrase them in your own way. Express them to God in prayer.

 Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

The second is Colossians 1:9-10. Paul prayed this for other people. You can pray it for yourself.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

God isn’t hiding His will from you! If He wants you to be a pastor or pursue a similar ministry vocation, He will make it clear to you. These prayers communicate to Him that you are open to His direction in your life and you are eager for Him to show you. As David said in Psalm 25:9, He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

Connect With Your Pastor
You may have noticed  I repeatedly encourage you to talk to and spend time with your pastor. This is a very important step on the pathway to pastoral ministry. Scripture shows us that God uses men who are already in ministry to identify qualities in those who will become pastors and to enlist them in ministry.

Paul did this for Timothy. He speaks of it in 1 Timothy 4:14 where he says to Timothy, Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. In 2 Timothy 1:6 he says something similar: For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

The laying on of hands indicated recognition of God’s call on Timothy’s life. Paul along with other leaders in the church formally affirmed that call. They had observed Timothy’s life, knew his character, and recognized qualities that enabled him to serve in ministry.

In the same way, church leaders today recognize and affirm God’s call on a man’s life and his readiness to serve in ministry. This is why it’s important for your pastor to know you and have a part in preparing you for ministry.

You might think your pastor is too busy with important work to take time with you. Most pastors will be thrilled if a young man wants to talk about going into ministry. Sure, he has a lot to do, but if you initiate getting together, he will most likely be glad to do it. In some church settings there may be multiple pastors. You might feel comfortable connecting with a youth pastor or other assistant pastor.

A good place to start is just a conversation. Invite him to have coffee with you, your treat. Share with him your thoughts and questions about ministry. Ask him to pray for you and give you any advice he has. Let him know you are available to help in the church and you’d like to learn about ministry.

As you get more involved in the church, stay in touch with him. Update him periodically on how you are thinking about future ministry. Ask him questions about various situations you face. Invite him to point out areas in your character where you need to grow.

If God directs you farther along the pathway to pastoral ministry, this relationship will encourage you and help you along the way. There may be other pastors or ministry leaders you develop relationships with as well. Cultivate and maintain these connections. Continue to ask for prayer, seek input in your life, and update them on your progress.

Now let’s take the next step on the path.