Eight Essential Qualities of Pastors Who Love Their Jobs


You can do your job well without loving it. However, for pastors, the calling often goes beyond mere duty. It encompasses a passion for serving and guiding their flocks. What distinguishes pastors who love their jobs from those who do their jobs? It boils down to several essential qualities.

They embrace awkward moments. At my first church, the lone deacon would take a smoke break in the middle of my sermon. (Yes, I preached too long.) Then, there was the time someone brought a pet parrot to church. (No, I didn’t get any amens from the bird.) And I’ll never forget the several demonstrators who gathered with signs to protest our women wearing pants. There are many other awkward moments I can’t put into writing—yet. Pastors who love their jobs genuinely enjoy these moments and laugh at the strangeness of church life.  

They don’t take criticism personally. This one took me a while to learn. I remember many years ago, a member criticized my wife in front of everyone for how she led worship.

“That wasn’t real worship! How terrible!” This member then added a few other choice comments about my wife.

I responded, “There are plenty of other dead churches in this town who would welcome another corpse if you don’t like it here.”

It was not my finest moment. But this instance—and many others—taught me to listen, reflect, and discern whether there’s a lesson to be learned from someone’s criticism. Usually, there is. Pastors who love their jobs learn from criticism without it affecting their personal worth or dedication.

They enjoy listening as much as talking. I’m often happiest when I have a microphone in my hand. Like many church leaders, I relish teaching God’s Word. But pastors who love their jobs also excel in active listening, demonstrating empathy and understanding. You preach better sermons when you find great joy in the story of your people.

They create a culture of levity. Church work is serious. The eternity of souls is at stake! But laughter and light-heartedness build community. At my church, we love practical jokes. A culture of fun helps people feel like they belong. Walk into a room full of serious scowls—how do you feel? Like you belong? It’s much easier to assimilate into a group of people who laugh with you.

They accept uncertainty and have a clear understanding of expectations. The path of ministry is rarely straightforward. Uncertainty is everywhere. While the mission of God will take you to unexpected places, you should set boundaries within your congregation. Pastors who love their jobs can handle the uncertainty of the mission dei because they have certainty of expectations in the relationships with their congregations.

They are self-aware and driven. Self-aware pastors are adaptable and flexible. They not only have confidence in their strengths, but they also proactively seek accountability for their weaknesses. You can be self-aware but not driven. These pastors make for enjoyable company but rarely accomplish much.

Conversely, you can be driven but not self-aware. These pastors reach their goals but often run over people in the process. Pastors who love their jobs manage to balance self-awareness and ambition, and they energize the people around them.

They love discovering new activities and people in their communities. Churches are vehicles to send people into the surrounding neighborhoods. If you don’t love your community, it’s challenging to reach your community. Pastors who love their jobs genuinely enjoy discovering new parts of their mission field. When you dislike where you live, it’s difficult to love what you do in ministry.

They focus on reasonable and attainable mid-term goals. It’s one thing to have a vision for the long-term growth of your church. It’s another thing to make consistent progress every few months. Pastors who love their jobs give more time and energy to mid-term strategy than long-term vision. What is a typical timeframe for these strategies? Six months. You are far more likely to love what you do when you accomplish two major objectives a year.

What tasks do pastors love about their jobs? Preaching is usually at the top of surveys, followed by developing or discipling believers. Most pastors say they are satisfied with being a pastor, but many are split as to whether or not they are satisfied at their current church. Research reveals that many pastors enjoy specific tasks but struggle with satisfaction in their churches. Pastors with these eight qualities are more likely to love their jobs.

What qualities might you add to this list?