My wife and I are members of the Central Baptist Church in Crandall, Texas (Dallas area). I’ve told everyone who will listen that our pastor, Charles Wilson, is the best pastor I’ve ever known. (Disclaimer: I have not had the opportunity to observe Dave Miller and William Thornton in action.) Charles Wilson is not the best preacher I’ve heard (that is Adrian Rogers), but Brother Charlie does a great job. This prompted me to think about the question—What makes a great pastor? So, in this essay, I’ll try to answer that question. I’ll write about what makes a great preacher in a separate post.
Good Character/Integrity. First Timothy 3 lists the qualifications for a pastor, and it is interesting that all but one of the characteristics have to do with personal character and family life. A great pastor leads an exemplary life that demonstrates his good moral character.
Devotional Life. A great pastor maintains his devotional life. A pastor cannot feed his people spiritual food long-term if he is not spending time with the Lord in prayer, devotional Bible study, and meditation.
Evangelism. Paul exhorted Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5). A great pastor is a soul winner and leads his church to do evangelism.
Knowledge. A pastor needs an adequate knowledge of Bible, theology, and Baptist polity (church governance).
Interpersonal Skills. A great pastor can interact appropriately with people of all ages. He knows how to say the right thing at the right time.
Encourager. A great pastor is an encourager. He can encourage folks who are hurting, discouraged, and grieving. Bro. Charlie comes into the auditorium before the worship starts, and he moves through crowd, loving on people and encouraging them.
Pastoral Care. A great pastor visits his members who are sick and grieving. This means going to the hospitals, nursing homes, and funeral home visitations. Some young pastors believe they should stay in their offices most of the time, preparing a doctrinal treatise to deliver on Sunday. I suggest spending half time in the study and half time out evangelizing and shepherding the flock.
Counseling. A great pastor can counsel his people. Counseling can include marriage troubles, personal conflicts, and moral issues.
Administration. A pastor needs to understand church organization and financial administration.
Leadership. A great pastor develops a vision for his church and can communicate that to the congregation. Leadership also involves helping the church to plan for the future.
Change agent. Research tells us that 80% of our SBC churches are plateaued or declining. That means churches need to change. An effective pastor can lead his church to make necessary changes.
Mission-minded. A great pastor prioritizes the Great Commission. He leads his church engage in missions, pray for missions, and give to missions.
Teacher. The only practical qualification mentioned in 1 Timothy 3 is “able to teach.” A great pastor can teach the Bible, teach doctrine, and train lay leaders.
Mentor. An effective pastor can mentor new believers, staff members, and people who announce a call to the ministry. A veteran pastor may well mentor inexperienced pastors who serve nearby.
Reprover. A great pastor has the courage to reprove church members who need correction.
When you list all these qualities, it is amazing. A pastor needs to know about a lot of different things. I should add that these qualities are not listed according to priority. I’m sure our readers will want to add some qualities to this list. So, what would you add?