by Dr. Stan Hudson, who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference
Were I wearing a younger man’s clothes, pastoring as a career choice would appeal to me in many ways. I will list those ways in two categories: practical reasons and emotional/spiritual reasons. First, the practical ones….
Pastoring is one of the very few “generalist” careers left in the world. By that I mean the world has evolved into specialism. In medicine the country doctor used to do most any kind of medical procedure, including delivering babies. Now those areas are largely left up to specialists. But a pastor must be at least adequate (and preferably good) at various kinds of counseling, finance, public speaking, teaching, understanding theology, displaying leadership skills, short- and long-term planning and much more, all the while demonstrating positive people skills. Every day will be different. There will be crises and there will be victories. It is totally cool. And you might even be able to develop spiritual interests or specialties that can contribute to the larger work, a very fulfilling possibility.
And then there are the emotional/spiritual reasons why choosing a career in pastoring is an appealing one. You get to be a combat officer in the Great Controversy. You are on the front lines, where Jesus is most connected with people. You are in the center of where it’s really happening in this universe (not Hollywood, not politics, not sports, all which cause angels to stifle yawns!). There is no higher calling on this planet. You are present where angels tred. When people invite you into a hospital room where life’s greatest pains are faced, you stand on ground as sacred as the ground Moses stood on at the burning bush.
You must like people for this career to work for you…and I don’t just mean “love” them. You have to show up front a natural interest in people. A rule I’ve tried to follow is to find that most interesting and positive characteristic of a person and keep that in mind when you think of or interact with them. People always respond positively to anyone appearing to be genuinely interested in them. If you don’t like people, don’t waste your time and theirs trying to pastor them.
After these 40-plus years of ministry, I can see a bonus I never had thought of when I was choosing this career. If you are like me, one who is sometimes caught up in the attractions of this world, pastoring can (if you don’t hinder it) lead you into a much, much deeper relationship with the Lord. There are times where I feel like saying “the Lord called me into ministry in order to save me!”
What recruiting officer can offer such attractive reasons for signing up? When I heard like Isaiah the words “who will go for us, whom can I send,” I had to say “here I am. Send me!” And in this life I have already received a rich reward.
Do any of you young people out there hear that call, too?