Every effective pastor should have a strong set of qualities which allow them to lead others to Christ. No two pastors are the same and therefore no two pastors will have the same set of characteristics.
There are, however, a broad set of traits that good pastors develop. In the list below, we’ll touch on the qualities needed to be a pastor. The list is not complete, but it should provide insight to what makes an effective church leader.
No. 1 Leadership
Hebrews 13:7Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
It goes without saying that an effective pastor should be a great leader. There are so many references to leadership in the Bible and its influence on faith.
The ability to lead is important for anyone, in any walk of life, but essential for pastors. Pastors provide leadership in good times and bad.
A good leader knows when it’s time to share a wise word, or when it’s appropriate to make others laugh. A good pastor strives to point other believers in the right direction (learn how to become a Prayer Warrior).
No. 2 Patience
Proverbs 15:18A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
An effective pastor should be patient and practice patience daily.
A patient person listens to others and strives to understand. Patience may appear in a pastor during a difficult situation or when listening to an opposing perspective. Patience can often be witnessed around children
A patient pastor is slow to anger and uses a calm tone or unthreatening body language to respond to controversy (also read: Fun Pastor Appreciation Ideas).
Practiced within the church, patience will make a congregation feel at ease and make a pastor more approachable. All too often, life can become stressful and tensions arise. Patience is an essential characteristic for every pastor.
No. 3 Accountability
Proverbs 27:17Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Accountability is an important characteristic for pastors to have. Congregations routinely listen to pastor’s sermons as they speak on the importance of accountability.
Just as church members, spouses, and small group members are expected to keep each other accountable, so too must pastors be accountable to the church.
>> Also Read: Writing Your Pastor A “Thank You”
Accountability is a welcome word to pastors who hold themselves to a higher standard. A pastor might request that a board or associate pastor meet with them to keep them accountable. However, a pastor should hold themselves accountable as well.
As an effective pastor, it’s essential to practice what you preach. Set an example for others to follow.
No. 4 Humility
Philippians 2:3Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
A piece of humble pie can be tough for anyone to swallow, let alone a pastor who preaches to hundreds of people each week. A leader in a church is bound to receive a lot of attention (and praise if things are going well).
In order to be an effective leader, pastors should continually remind themselves that although they may lead a church, their role is also to serve God and those in the church. Humility means knowing when to thank those around you and when to give credit to God (also read my article on How to Encourage Your Pastor).
A humble pastor will defer praise to all when a church achieves a goal.
No. 5 Family Oriented
Psalm 133:1How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.
How often do you see pastors surrounded by family? In my experience it’s common to see a pastor seated next to a spouse, children, or parents. Rarely have I seen a pastor without some form of family nearby.
“Family values” wasn’t a term created by accident. Families teach us how to care for others and give us greater appreciation for God’s creation.
Families also give pastors plenty of examples to pull from when teaching and leading others. Family experiences are something easy to relate to when growing in Christ.
All Christians should build strong family values and pastors should be committed to family (both literal and the church family).
No. 6 Respectful
Luke 6:31And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
An important quality of being a pastor is respect. Leaders in the church are often given ample amounts of respect for their sacrifices to lead others to Christ. Pastors should share the respect they receive with church members, friends and family, as well as their community.
Effective pastors are respectful no matter the situation. Respect can be demonstrated in a variety of situations, including:
- People’s time
- Differing opinions
- Attending events
- Thanking others (make it a habit)
- Individual’s unique and often challenging situations
No. 7 Lifelong Learner
Matthew 7:7Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Curious people tend to continually learn. Earning a degree or attending seminary doesn’t mean you’ve completed learning.
A pastor maybe knowledgeable and may have a firm grasp on the Bible, but it’s important to continue thinking critically about God and how his teachings can be applied. There is an oft mentioned quote by Aristotle that applies to learning: “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know”.
>> check out these Common Youth Pastor Interview Questions
An effective pastor will seek to learn and grow as a leader. A pastor will take their knowledge and practice how they convey it to others.
No. 8 Trustworthy
Psalm 56:3When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
The verse above talks about trusting God, however, we should also be able to trust our pastors.
Pastors are trained in several disciplines. They must be able to communicate, to lead others, to analyze and interpret the Bible.
Similarly, a pastor should be able to provide council to members of the church.
Pastors routinely meet with individuals and couples. They help people navigate through challenges and help couples prepare for marriage. Many of these conversations are personal and therefore trust is a requisite.
A pastor’s trust should also be present in other areas of the church. Financial management is important, as a pastor will have knowledge and influence for how funds are spent.
A congregation must trust their pastor’s vision for the future. Are decisions being made for the future of the church or are they being made from self-ambition of a pastor?
A good pastor will earn his church’s trust, as well as his community, through action over time.
No. 9 Ability To Delegate
2 Timothy 3:16-17All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching,for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent,equipped for every good work.
The Scripture above explains that God teaches all of us to live in righteousness. Just because someone has the title of “pastor” does not necessarily make them more knowledgeable or skilled than others in the church.
A good pastor identifies those in his congregation who have gifts from God and uses those people to better serve the Lord. Some people in the church will have decades of experience in accounting – let them oversee the churches financials.
Other people may have established schools and be experts in teaching – let them create the curriculum for youth programs.
>> How To Write A Thank You Note To Your Pastor
The art of delegation is a learned skill, but certainly, a quality that an effective pastor will have. Although pastors will be involved in many church and community activities, there is only so much time in a day. Good pastors will work with others to build strength in the church.
No. 10 Communication
Proverbs 15:1A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Have you ever heard someone say “she’s a natural communicator”? It may seem surprising, but no body is born with the ability to communicate. It’s a learned skill, and yes, some people develop the skill easier than others.
A pastor’s ability to communicate is extremely important and it’s a quality honed over years or study and practice. Most people envision a pastor communicating in front of a pulpit, however, most of a pastor’s communication will be away from the pulpit. Here are a few examples:
- Community engagements
Pastors must be willing to be public speakers. They are often looked to for feedback or comments on issues regarding the church, however, they also communicate with people outside the church on a daily basis.
A good communicator knows how to convey an idea or opinion in a way that a listener can relate to. It may include a story or an example. It may include anecdotes from Scripture or other literature. Communication takes practice and pastors should be expected to practice often!
No. 11 Vision
Jeremiah 29:11For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil,to give you a future and a hope.
A quality that all good pastors have is vision. Having vision allows a pastor to plan for the future. After all, isn’t the main purpose of a pastor to prepare us for our future in heaven?
As Christians we spend a lot of time preparing for the future. A pastor should help their congregation to better understand what’s in store for them when we depart this life.
A pastor should also have a vision for their congregation and the church. Compared to an eternity with God, this vision seems rather shortsighted.
A vision for the church should be centered on improving existing church services and preparing to meet future needs of faith. Having vision is similar to having a plan and executing the plan is just as important.
No. 12 Action Oriented
James 1:23-35For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres,being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
What good is knowledge without action? In James chapter 1, we learn about hearers and doers. All people have the ability to do both, but it’s often easier to be a hearer.
A pastor can’t accept being a hearer. With all the characteristics needed to be an effective pastor, taking action is of high importance.
A pastor shouldn’t sit in the back of the class. Rather, they should be an active participant, eager to learn and implement God’s teaching.
Likewise, a pastor shouldn’t just direct others to take action. A pastor should lead by example.
Do you have the qualities to be a good pastor? There are many characteristics that are necessary to lead others in Christ, and this list is not exhaustive.
If you are a pastor, or are considering becoming one, a self-evaluation can highlight your strengths and weaknesses. Rank the qualities shared in this article from strongest to weakest. Then, ask 1-2 people you trust (possibly your pastor) to do the same for you.
Compare how you view yourself with how others view you and create an action plan to improve each characteristic (even your strongest).
Pastors come from varying backgrounds with unique experiences and perspectives.
What are the characteristics of a pastor? ›
- Faithful Preaching. ...
- Faithful Pastoral Care. ...
- Faithful in Persecution.
The pastor is to be selfless, not self-centered. Paul reflects this idea in the following qualifications, “respectable, hospitable, able to teach…, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome…” and “have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the devil's trap.”What makes a pastor a pastor? ›
A pastor is someone with the authority to lead religious services. Pastors lead church services and help others worship. Pastor is a religious title used mostly in Christian churches. The pastor is a leader within a church who has been ordained and therefore given the authority to conduct religious services.What is the most important role of a pastor? ›
With the primary job of a Pastor being to inform, lead and comfort a congregation, a Pastor must be emotionally educated and trained as much as the role requires being administratively trained and university-educated to lead a congregation.What are the biblical expectations of a pastor? ›
- A pastor must be devoted to his wife; one-woman man (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim 3:2). ...
- A pastor's children must be in submission, though not perfect (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim 3:4-5). ...
- A pastor is a faithful steward (Titus 1:7). ...
- A pastor must be humble — not arrogant (Titus 1:7).
Pastoral leadership qualities include being courageous and confident without letting his ego get in the way. Humility often makes a pastor more approachable, so staff and congregation members aren't intimidated about asking spiritual questions or seeking counsel, according to Church Leaders.What a pastor must not do? ›
In addition to the obvious no-no's, such as profanity, heresy, racism, sexism, and the like, no pastor should ever be heard to utter any of the following from the pulpit.What is the biblical definition of a pastor? ›
The word "pastor" derives from the Latin noun pastor which means "shepherd" and is derived from the verb pascere – "to lead to pasture, set to grazing, cause to eat". The term "pastor" also relates to the role of elder within the New Testament, and is synonymous with the biblical understanding of minister.What are the 7 functions of pastoral care? ›
The Church in Acts displayed Leadership, Prayer, Worship, Discipleship, Evangelism, Fellowship, and Ministry. These Seven Functions are keys to a local church being Biblically healthy and growing. Churches that focus on these areas have greater impact on their community and world.How do I become a powerful pastor? ›
- Sit under great preaching. I firmly believe that preaching is more caught than taught. ...
- Take Notes from Great Preaching. ...
- Listen to Great Preaching. ...
- Read Great Preaching. ...
- Learn from Many Great Preachers. ...
- Preach Yourself. ...
- Preach Often. ...
- Preach in Different Settings.
What should a pastor be doing? ›
Some of the duties of a pastor may include: Leading religious worship services. Providing counseling to parish members, including comforting them when they are distressed, visiting those who are sick or offering advice in important decisions. Performing religious ceremonies, such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.What is the spiritual gift of pastor? ›
Among those gifts, Eph. 4:11 states that the Holy Spirit gives some of the members of the body of Christ the grace, power, and authority to serve as pastors. As such, service as a pastor is first and foremost a spiritual gift rather than a mere profession or office.Why pastors are so important? ›
Pastors can provide peace and safety to the people God places under them within the local church (Jeremiah 23:4). Every Christian benefits from having a pastor. Even pastors should have a pastor to feed them the Word of God, give wisdom, and provide safety from spiritual enemies.How should a pastor lead his church? ›
- Pray that the church will become more evangelistic. ...
- Pray for opportunities to share the gospel. ...
- Become accountable to someone else for sharing the gospel. ...
- Start new groups. ...
- Preach the gospel. ...
- Celebrate new believers. ...
- Get the gospel in all the ministries.
An effective minister must key into God's power through fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit, fastings, prayers, holy living and dedication to God, so as to be true channel of His unlimited power. Matthew 17:21; Romans 8:26.What pastor should avoid? ›
In addition to the obvious no-no's, such as profanity, heresy, racism, sexism, and the like, no pastor should ever be heard to utter any of the following from the pulpit. 1.What are some weaknesses of a pastor? ›
- Dealing with criticism. Everybody can be a critic, but criticism in the church is especially disconcerting. ...
- Time management. ...
- Physical and mental health issues. ...
- Financial struggles.
Hard skills such as preaching, teaching, facility management, and fundraising are teachable and measurable. Soft skills are the things that make you a decent and enjoyable person, pastor, and employee. Soft skills include communication, flexibility, leadership, empathy, and etiquette.What are examples of pastoral skills? ›
- Shepherding: providing comfort, care and encouragement to the hurting.
- Mentoring: pouring into another in a life-on-life context that includes sponsoring, guiding, and investing relationally.
- Public speaking: learning to present your ideas clearly and articulately before others.
pastor. noun. pas·tor. ˈpas-tər. : a minister or priest in charge of a church or parish.
Can a female be a pastor? ›
All Christian women are called to ministry, and God grants some Christian women the unique ability to teach, but that doesn't mean God is calling them to violate His Word. When a woman discerns a desire to serve the church with her teaching abilities, she should do so within the boundaries created by God's Word.What is the code of ethics for pastors? ›
Be honest, not exaggerating or overpromising; peace-loving, not contentious; patient, not volatile; diligent, not slothful. Avoid and, when necessary, report conflicts of interest and seek counsel.