It is no secret that I have a special love for pastors. Perhaps my years serving as pastor of four churches made me appreciate the hard work and long hours of pastors. But, even when I was a layman banker, I had this love for those who have been called to serve and lead God’s churches.
I recently wrote the names of 23 pastors that, at least from my perspective, seem to find the greatest joy in their ministries. While such an exercise is admittedly subjective, it was nevertheless enlightening and encouraging.
I then wrote down what I knew about these pastors: their ministries, their families and their activities.
It was amazing.
When it was all said and done, I found 10 correlated traits of joyous pastors. I bet few will surprise you.
1. They read their Bible daily.
They are in the Bible for their own spiritual growth, not just sermon preparation.
2. They have a fixed prayer time.
Sixteen of the pastors have shared with me about a precise time they set aside for prayer each day with few exceptions. That number could be higher since I have never specifically asked them.
3. They have the support and encouragement of their spouses.
This issue was mentioned frequently.
4. They hold their families as a higher priority than church members.
Children and spouses are first in life and in ministry.
5. They are personally evangelistic.
Many of them pray daily for the opportunity to share the gospel.
6. They avoid petty arguments.
You won’t find these pastors in arguments on blogs or other social media. And you won’t find them arguing with people in person over nonessential matters.
7. They have learned to deal with criticisms.
Every pastor is the recipient of criticisms. A relative few have learned to put those criticisms in right perspective.
8. They have a long-term perspective.
The problems of today, therefore, do not seem nearly as bad.
9. They spend adequate time in sermon preparation.
With the demands of pastoral ministry, it’s tough to find time, but these pastors make it a priority.
10. They are involved in their communities.
Their community is the mission field they love. They spend time there and are regularly involved.
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.