What Is the Daily Life of a Pastor Like?
- Aaron D'Anthony Brown Contributing Author
- 2022 6 Jan
Have you ever asked yourself, what’s the daily life of a pastor like? We stare at them and listen on Sundays, but otherwise, pastors can be in themselves an enigma, a mystery, a stranger we see just once a week. Some of us are blessed to know our pastors a bit more deeply, but usually that doesn’t mean friendship. Intuitively, we know that getting too deep with the pastor can be problematic, so there they remain, ever-elusive. And we wonder, what does life look like from their eyes?
Well, there’s one way to find out.
One cold November morning, I was taking my usual stroll through the neighborhood when I bumped into a neighbor and his wife. That was far from our first encounter, but this time they invited me to their church.
That Sunday, I was sitting in the congregation, only, to my bewilderment he was the pastor!
A casual neighborhood passing has turned into an acquaintanceship, exchanged Christmas gifts, lunches, and plenty of conversations. Much like he blessed me with a good sermon that day, he has blessed me with the inside scoop on the life of a pastor.
Goodwill Baptist Church has been at its current location for over eighty years with Pastor Rollin Mohler leading the faithful congregation. He received his Master of Ministry in 2008 at Baptist Bible Seminary and was ordained to the work of gospel ministry in 2015. The year prior, he began his work at the church. Here’s what he had to say about his life.
What’s the Daily Life of a Pastor Like?
Q: For those who may be unaware, can you explain the process of becoming a pastor? Is there seminary school, undergrad, or grad?
A: The process of becoming a pastor is primarily based on God’s calling on a person’s life. Becoming a pastor is not like many other professions where a certain level of education is required. Though graduate-level education through a seminary is encouraged to better equip a person to be a pastor, that is only one part of the process of becoming a pastor.
Do you need to be a smart high school student to get into seminary? How competitive are these schools, if competitive at all?
Seminary education is different from other graduate-level education in that it is more about each individual being equipped to be used by God as God has directed in their lives than it is about competing with others who are also striving to serve in ministry. A certain level of intellect is helpful considering the responsibilities of a pastor, but education is only one small piece of God’s leading in a person’s life to be a pastor.
Is there a difference between a preacher, a pastor, and a priest?
Yes. In short, a preacher is one who proclaims a message, a pastor is a shepherd or one who guides and a priest is one who mediates. I view myself primarily as a pastor, as I believe my primary role is to shepherd those whom God has entrusted to me.
Talk to me about your family. I’ve noticed that you and my pastor both have big families. Granted, big today is 3 children, whereas in the past big meant 6 and more. Do pastors typically have bigger than average families?
I know other pastors who have several kids and some who have none, so I don’t think there is an expectation of family size for a pastor. My wife and I believe that children are a blessing from the Lord and not a burden as it seems they are viewed by some. Raising children in a pastor’s home has its distinct challenges, but many pastors likely view children as a blessing and so they may have more children than the average family if God so enables.
When we first met and you invited me to your church for what you called Friend Day, why didn’t you share that you were the pastor?
When people find out that I am a pastor, I am treated differently. Though, as the pastor, I am a guide for God’s people, I am also another follower of God striving to point other people to God. It is nice to be able to talk to people without the front that is often put on when they find out I am a pastor.
Talk to me about schooling? You homeschool your children, and that trend is gaining traction, especially amongst more conservative folks. Why homeschool instead of public schools?
When it comes to education, I believe that it is the parent’s primary responsibility, not the church or the government or an institution. Parents have the opportunity to choose which tool they would prefer to guide them in that process. For my family, we determined that a homeschool education best lined up with what we deem important in our child’s education.
I would add that homeschooling is not for everyone and I know of other pastors who have their children in private and public education. Homeschooling gives us the opportunity and flexibility to teach our children the fundamentals we believe are important.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Ehrlif
How did you decide on a location to church-plant or preach?
As was true about God’s leading in my life to become a pastor, the same was true about how I ended up at Goodwill Baptist Church. I followed the Lord’s leading and guidance. God used circumstances coupled with counsel and prayer to bring me to the place I am today. All followers of God, whether pastors or not, have the same responsibility to follow God’s guidance in their lives in both big and small decisions.
I strive to live out what God’s Word communicates in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.”
What’s your greatest accomplishment as a pastor?
My primary task as a pastor is to preach and teach the Word of God and pray. As such, my greatest accomplishment as a pastor is God enabling and allowing me to faithfully proclaim his Word for many years.
On a more pragmatic front, the steps God has allowed me to take to help Goodwill Baptist Church grow in biblical community is a great accomplishment in my opinion. Since my time at the church, we have started small groups and have created a friendly atmosphere for people to be open about their successes and struggles in life. This friendliness has played over to be more welcoming to guests that come to the church as well. Though we certainly have much room to grow in these areas, the progress in the past few years has been noticeable.
What about your greatest failure?
One of my primary goals as a pastor is to encourage the church to make a difference in our community for Christ. Though the church has started a food pantry since I arrived and has a few organized events each year to communicate Christ’s compassion in our community, measurable success in this area has been lacking. We are constantly evaluating how we can do better at telling others that Jesus loves them and wants them to have a relationship with him and we want to do better at this.
We had plans to try some different approaches in this regard in the beginning of 2020. However, with the changes that came to our world in the spring of 2020, we are back to the drawing board in striving to determine how we can be more effective at telling others in our community about Christ. The Friend Day you mentioned was one attempt we made toward that end as well.
What makes you happiest about being a pastor?
Seeing people come to know the Lord as their Savior, grow in their walk with him, and then encourage others to do the same.
Do you ever find yourself learning from people who never went to seminary school? Clearly, I want to know if I can teach you a thing or two.
I strive to read regularly and take in as much information from others as I can. I view myself as a lifelong learner. As such, I am constantly learning from people of all ages, backgrounds, and education levels.
Any future plans for Goodwill Baptist church?
As life continues to move forward with many changes in our world and in our society, Goodwill Baptist Church is striving to faithfully communicate Christ’s compassion to a needy world. We want to be effective at telling our neighbors and co-workers and family and friends that God loves them so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus, to die in their place so they could have life both now and for all of eternity. Whether it is special occasions like the Friend Day or encouraging one another to get together with our neighbors, or regular interactions with others in the community, we want to make a positive difference for God in this world. We want to make this difference not so the church becomes big and famous, but so that God is lifted up and worshiped and given the glory that he rightly deserves.
Does your pastor’s story sound similar? Different? We learn plenty from those around us when we take the time to talk, whether they are a believer, nonbeliever, or somewhere in between.
The next time you’re curious, just ask. And the next time you question if your pastor exists outside of church or just materializes every Sunday, you’ll know he is in fact human. Whether or not he leaves the church is a different story.
Photo Credit: Ben White/Unsplash
Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”