Why become a pastor?

Ask a Pastor

Why become a pastor


“Why did you become a pastor?” – MG Spunky Gaenicke, ELCA Facebook follower

This is a great question, one I ask myself quite a bit. I attended college and seminary with the intention to become a pastor, but I quit after my first year of seminary. As an African American person of color, I was deeply concerned that I was not learning a lot about things and people who were important to me. But after 10 years of working in ministries addressing homelessness, incarceration and poverty, I realized it was time for me to go back to seminary and become the kind of pastor God was calling me to be.

Here is my answer to your question – I am a pastor because my passion is to love God, and I love people, and I can find no better platform to live out this calling (vocation). Every now and then I have to remind myself why I chose to be a pastor. It is not to become an eloquent preacher, brilliant theologian or political voice in the community. Those might, by the grace of God, become outcomes, but my reason for becoming a pastor was and is to express my love for God and my love for people. Your question helps me to remember that – thank you!

It would be easy for me to simply say, “I’m in the family business;” my father was a pastor. But such an answer would not honor your question. The truth is I spent a lot of time resisting God and God’s call to ministry. But God is a persistent lover of our souls and does not give up on us. The soft whisper in my heart would not be silent and would not be ignored. Finally, I had to acknowledge that God might be calling me to word and sacrament ministry, to be a speaker of the gospel and to walk with God’s people. Others agreed that it just might be so, and here I am many years later a pastor and a teacher of pastoral theology for the church.

Because God is persistent. I never had one of those “parting-of-the-clouds, voice-of-God” moments, but through the voices of other people and the internal affirmation of a variety of experiences, I continually perceived a call to parish ministry – which I resisted. But again and again, it was the only direction that didn’t result in a sense of internal dissonance. Like many (probably most) of my colleagues, I didn’t choose to become a pastor – I responded to a call.

Do you have a question you'd like answered by an ELCA pastor? Email your question to us as at livinglutheran@elca.org and you might see it answered by one of our pastors. You can also find out more about our pastors on our "Bios" page. LivingLutheran.com offers a platform for ELCA members to share their diverse experiences of what it means to live Lutheran.

You might also want to read:
Why Arkansas?
Answering the Lord
The call to use God’s gifts for others

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