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  • Writer's pictureMark Hallock

5 Non-Negotiables To Look For In A Pastoral Resident

Training up pastors should increasingly be a passion and priority for every local church. As Al Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary puts it,

"The role of theological seminaries remains crucial for the education and training of Christian ministers. At its best, the seminary is an intentional gathering of Christian scholars who are dedicated to the preparation of ministers, committed to biblical truth, gifted in modeling and teaching the tasks of ministry, and passionate about the Gospel… Nevertheless, count me as one seminary president who believes that the local church is even more important to the education of the pastor. The local church should see theological education as its own responsibility before it partners with a theological seminary for concentrated studies. The seminary can provide a depth and breadth of formal studies — all needed by the minister — but it cannot replace the local church as the context where ministry is learned most directly." [1]

So, what should a church be looking for in a pastoral resident? There are several non-negotiables you should be looking for in this individual. Here are five of them:

#1: A passion and hunger for God and His Word. We desperately need leaders in the church who are first and foremost passionate about God and his Word. A pastor cannot give to others what he does not own himself. The first thing you are looking for in a potential pastoral resident is a deep love for God and his Word. You want to hear how he came to know Christ as Savior and Lord. You want to listen for ways in which he seeks to commune with God in worship and prayer. Is he passionate about Christ and the Gospel? Does he seek to love God and honor Him with his whole heart? What about his relationship with the Bible? You want to hear his view of Scripture. You want to know without a shadow of a doubt that he is absolutely committed to the inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of the Bible. However, more than simply his stated doctrinal convictions, you want to hear of his own personal love and hunger for God’s Word. Does He love God and love God’s Word? This is foundational and absolutely essential.

#2: A deep love and care for people. Ministry is all about people. Pastoring in a local church context is all about loving and caring for God’s people. In fact, there is no way to shepherd a congregation in a healthy, biblical, God-honoring way apart from a deep love and care for the people in that congregation. When you are looking for a pastoral resident, you need to make sure, as best you can, that they love people. They don’t just put up with people, they love people! They enjoy people. They encourage people. They serve people. They hug people. They love people! If this characteristic is not present in a potential pastoral resident, keep looking until you find a man who is marked by this kind of love for others. Jesus loves people. And He calls every pastor to follow his lead in sacrificially and joyfully loving others as well.

#3: A humble, servant heart. A heart of humility is a non-negotiable when looking for a pastoral resident. What does this look like? Is this individual eager and joyful about doing the tasks no one else wants to do? Do they prefer being unnoticed for their service and good deeds rather than being noticed and praised by others for them? This is a significant indicator of what is going on in his heart. True humility before God and people is crucial, not only when serving as a resident, but when serving as a pastor in a local church.

#4: A hard worker. Pastoral ministry is hard work. It is hard work that takes much sacrifice, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. If a pastoral resident is lazy or is constantly making excuses versus faithfully and joyfully working "as unto the Lord," not only will this create tension among other leaders, but the congregation as a whole will lose respect for him. As a result, they won't follow his leadership. A potential pastoral resident must count the cost of ministry leadership and be willing to work hard for the glory of God and the good of the church. If he is unwilling to work hard as a resident in your church, there is no reason to believe he will work any harder as a pastor when you send him out from your church. The last thing any congregation needs is a lazy pastor. And the last thing your church needs is a lazy pastoral resident. It sounds harsh, but it is the truth.

#5: A team player who encourages others. You want to find a team player. You want to find a pastoral resident who is not a Lone Ranger. Is this individual aligned with the vision, mission, doctrine, and values of your church? Does he seek to humbly work alongside others? Does he encourage others or does he see them as a threat of some kind? Does he have a posture of teachability or a “know it all” mentality? Your church is a family and the leaders, including this potential resident, must work as a team and lead as a team. A fun, loving, encouraging, humble, hard-working, team-minded lover of Jesus and people is the kind of individual you want to bring on as a pastoral resident. Pray hard that God would send a man marked by these five characteristics. And continue to lift him up in prayer as he lives into this call as a pastoral resident.

[1] Al Mohler, “Training Pastors in the Church”, accessed December 10, 2016,

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