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Am I fit for this task?

St. Paul writes, “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1 ESV). He continues to list the general qualifications that a man needs to possess in order to become a pastor. The first time that I heard this verse spoken – when I really listened to and thought about the meaning of the words – was in my first year of Seminary. It was during my Intro to Pastoral Theology class that the words hit me the hardest. I had previously realized that being a pastor is an important job, but as I sat in a classroom on the second floor of Wyneken Hall in the spring semester of 2012, these words hit me like a freight train. In light of the verse, I had to ask myself, “Am I fit to be a pastor? Is this a job that I’m qualified to do?”

Rev. Micah Glenn
I’ve been the director of recruitment at Concordia Seminary for two years, and I know from experience that the question that I had about my ability to serve the church as a pastor isn’t unique to me. I imagine that most, if not all pastors, have asked this about themselves. It’s a question that often comes up when I’m speaking with a prospective student. We’ll be sitting in my office, at a coffee shop or in a Zoom meeting, and at some point, the prospective student will say something to the effect that he isn’t sure if he has what it takes to be a pastor. In response, I say in all earnestness, that in and of himself he isn’t fit for the task. No man is fit to be a pastor outside of the God’s grace. No man truly knows if he is fit to be a pastor until he studies at Seminary, gains qualifications from the Seminary, receives a call as a candidate, accepts the call to be a pastor and becomes ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry. It isn’t enough to be intelligent, great at public speaking, an extroverted people person or to feel like this is what God is calling you to do. While these are fine qualities to have, it’s the call to be a pastor – the true mark of a person fit for ministry – that comes from the Holy Spirit through the church. God is the one who determines who is qualified for ministry.

Let’s look at Scripture to see how this has played out. The Bible has numerous examples of people who seemed unfit for ministry – only to later becoming the person that God calls into ministry. For our purpose here, I’d like to take a look at Moses. Rescued from Pharoah’s order to kill newborn Hebrew sons, Moses grows up as a member of Pharoah’s family. And on the fateful night that Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, Moses kills the Egyptian and runs away from Egypt. During Moses’s self-imposed exile, Moses encounters the Lord in a burning bush and God calls Moses into ministry. God tells Moses that he is meant to go back to Egypt to lead God’s people, the Hebrews, into “a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Here is where the story becomes relevant for us. Moses begins to make excuses for why he can’t go. At the heart of Moses’s excuses could be his fear of being found out as a murderer, but it’s really that Moses is questioning his fitness for this leadership in service to God. No one would believe him and he’s not a good speaker. And still God calls Moses to lead His people, and more than that, God equips Moses and gives him everything that he needs to accomplish the task that God has given him – to lead His people to a place where they can have a relationship with their God in peace. Moses wasn’t fit for this ministry, and he knew it. But God called him anyway and formed Moses into who he needed to be. It wasn’t up to Moses or his ability. It was up to God.

Now, back to the beginning. Am I fit to be a pastor? I can honestly and confidently answer that question with a yes because I went through the training that the church has established to form men for pastoral ministry. At Concordia Seminary, I met the standards of qualification and by the grace of God, I received a call to the Office of Holy Ministry by the Holy Spirit through the church that I accepted. I was ordained June 19, 2016.

When I first arrived at Seminary, I wasn’t prepared to be a pastor. It took years of study under the leadership of men who had already become pastors. These men helped shape, educate, correct and encourage me on my path to becoming fit for pastoral ministry. If you’re reading this post and wonder if you’re fit to be a pastor or any other church worker, don’t be discouraged. Take a moment to speak with your pastor, deaconess, teacher, DCE or someone you trust who cares about you. Ask them what they think. As you explore the idea of a profession in church work, we at Concordia Seminary will gladly walk alongside you as you prayerfully discern God’s will. You may just discover that God is calling you to the harvest – to labor in the fields by preaching the Good News of Jesus to people who need their sins forgiven. We hope to hear from you soon!

Rev. Micah Glenn is director of recruitment at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.