16 Pros and Cons of Being a Pastor

Pastor

Being a pastor is a spiritual role that people feel called to do.

It is being a spiritual leader for a church and many see it as a lifestyle more than a job.

There is a lot more to being a pastor than what meets the eye.

They do a lot more than just preach a sermon once or twice per week.

They are busy with all the church functions, visiting the sick, and giving guidance or counseling to members.

They are the spiritual leaders of their church and are community leaders as well.

Pros of Being a Pastor

1. Helping people

Pastors help people with spiritual issues, and often give financial help to people in need.

If you like helping people, this could be a great job.

You could help someone with a spiritual issue, and help someone find a place to live next.

A pastor leads the church as a body and counsels individual members to help them deal with their lives.

To be a good pastor, you need to have the desire to help others as that is a major part of the job.

2. Making a difference

In many jobs, you don’t see tangible results of your work.

Even if you make something, it still goes somewhere to be sold.

As a pastor, you have a chance to help a lot of people, and you can see the results of those efforts over time.

Pastors can have a great influence on their community.

You also can have a great influence on individual people, and help them improve their lives.

These are the tangible results you will see.

3. Good standing in the community

While the church seems to be fading in some circles, pastors are generally respected by the public.

You can develop a lot of relationships in your congregation, and in the community as a whole. 

A pastor who avoids scandal is generally well thought of by most people in a community.

You will be seen as a community leader even by people who may not share your beliefs.

4. Working independently

A pastor must be self-motivated because there is no one telling him or her what to do.

The job takes a lot of time, but it is up to the pastor to figure out how to get that done.

This is a good job for people who are self-motivated and have a good idea of what they want to accomplish.

You can do things in any way you choose to do them.

Pastors usually need to be highly organized because there are a lot of demands on their time.

5. You’re in charge

 A pastor is like a business owner, in that he is in charge and can do what he wants to do.

You can mold your church into what you want it to be, but realize you may chase people away if you get too extreme.

You set the vision, or plan, for the church and then help see that it goes into practice.

Some churches have an elder board, but most of the time the pastor is the one who is ultimately in charge of the church.

6. Your opinion matters

It matters especially to those people in your church who are under your leadership.

They will ask what you think about spiritual issues, as well as other things.

You are, by default, a community leader, and what you say will matter to a lot of people.

You might be asked to speak at public gatherings not related to your church.

You may also be interviewed by news media on various topics.

7. You will be smart

It takes a lot of education to be a pastor and that education never ends.

You will always have to read and study to prepare sermons and that takes time.

You will have to do a lot of research.

People will expect you to know things, so you need to read a lot and know as much as you can, especially on spiritual matters.

You will also be expected to keep up to date on community and national issues.

8. You will get to eat a lot

People want to invite the pastor to lunch or dinner.

That used to be done in people’s homes, but now it may be more common in restaurants. 

Churches often have events that have food, and you have to go to every event. 

There are also public events that have food.

If you are not careful to stay in shape, you could gain a lot of weight.

Cons of Being a Pastor

1. Leadership is hard

You may be the boss, but no one has to do what you say.

For most church activities, the labor is done by volunteers.

You may be seen as a leader, but those people do not have to keep working if they choose not to.

You must use your charm or persuasion skills to get people to follow you or convince them the work is worthwhile.

It is like being in management, but you can never fire or discipline anyone.

2. Helping people can be hard

You have to console people who are grieving the loss of a family member. 

You may have to be at the hospital a lot for that reason.

You will also have to officiate at funerals.

Trying to help people cope with difficult situations can be stressful, but you will be expected to be there when families in your congregation are having difficulty. 

This can be stressful, but for people who love helping people, this is a very rewarding aspect of the job.

3. Long work hours

It can take several hours to prepare a sermon or speech, and you may have to do that more than once a week.

There are visits to sick people in your congregation that are expected.

In some churches, you could have to visit a dozen people a day for several days.

You have to be at, and be involved in, every activity that happens at the church. 

If you don’t love helping people or interacting with people, this will be a tough job.

4. High expectations

Hopefully, you will have some people wanting to help you, but if something does not get done, everyone expects the pastor to do it. 

You might have to mow the lawn, for instance, if no one does it and you want it done.

There are also expectations of your time.

Especially people who donate a lot of money, and who feel like they have a right to your time.

You will also be expected to be perfect by some people, and you will probably get criticism no matter what you do.

5. In the public eye

Everyone is watching you, and there are people who love nothing more than seeing a pastor mess up. 

You have to think about what you do whenever you are in public, which is most of the time. 

You have to be aware that someone is watching, and they probably have their phone ready to record. 

You will be expected to live an almost perfect life and any slip-up will be talked about.

6. Getting days off is hard

Of course, you have to work on Sunday, and most of the time pastors are finishing up sermon preparation on Saturday.

A lot of pastors take Mondays off, and some take Tuesdays as well.

There is always something that needs your attention or someone who needs you to do something for them.

You do get some vacation time, but if you are not careful you will end up working seven days a week.

7. Lots of education is needed

Most churches these days want pastors with doctorate degrees, and if not that, at least a Master of Divinity. 

That could be up to eight years of schooling after high school. 

Religious colleges are private universities, which are more expensive than public colleges. 

It will cost a lot of money to get the education you need to lead a church of any size.

There are some very small ones with almost no requirements, but they also usually don’t pay the pastor.

8. Burnout is common

Since you like helping people, you can easily get sucked into working all the time.

There will always be something that you “should” do.

You have to learn to say no to some things to protect your sanity.

There is little, if any, actual physical labor to do.

Even so, being around people and being leaned on for support can be very draining, especially when you don’t get many days off. 

This is challenging because you want to help people and there are always needs.

Pros and Cons of Being a Pastor – Summary Table

Pros of Being a PastorCons of Being a Pastor
1. Helping people1. Leadership is hard
2. Making a difference2. Helping people can be hard
3. Good standing in the community3. Long work hours
4. Working independently4. High expectations
5. You're in charge5. In the public eye
6. Your opinion matters6. Getting days off is hard
7. You will be smart7. Lots of education is needed
8. You will get to eat a lot8. Burnout is common

So … Should You Become a Pastor?

Being a pastor is not like other jobs, though you do have to have a lot of education and act in a professional manner. 

You need to be very settled in your religion, and you need to feel a calling from a higher power to take a job as a pastor. 

For most pastors, it is more of a lifestyle than a job. 

If you do not love helping people and do not have deeply held spiritual beliefs, you should not try to become a pastor.

Jamie Willis
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