Here are a few first steps you can take as you think about pastoral ministry.
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.
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 in 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.