If I were to ask most pastors whether they are on a higher status spiritually than other congregant members, I would suspect they would say no. Yet one pet peeve I have is when a pastor talks about how many people (especially in the context of youth ministry) under their care went on to “full-time ministry”. This somehow is a benchmark for success. Two reasons why this irritates me.

1. Whether intentional or not, it suggests those going into “full-time ministry” are somehow better than the others under their care.

I’ll assume that God has called individuals into ministry as a vocation. It’s a legitimate call. But that vocation is no better than any other profession God has called others to pursue. In fact, if all “better Christians” became pastors, then our influence in the world would be diminished, that somehow, we’ve kept the “A  team” in a church to minister while sending out the “B team” to regular jobs because they didn’t have what it takes spiritually to be a pastor. I would think most pastors wouldn’t articulate this as such, but that is what’s communicated when we discuss how many people are going into “full-time ministry” under our pastoral care.

2. The whole notion of “full-time ministry” is delusional.

If you’re a Christ-follower, you’re supposed to be ministering full-time anyway, whether with your family, at your workplace (be that in a church, an office or any setting) or just about anywhere you go. This idea that receiving that specific calling towards pastoral or similar contexts is really when ministry happens “full-time”, I would suggest, is unbiblical and perpetuates the perception that those in “full-time ministry” are involved in something more important.

A person’s calling from God towards any vocation (including pastoral) is God’s strategic placement for the purpose of advancing his kingdom. Yes, some of us are called to be pastors and we have a specific duty to fulfill in that role. But let’s not assume for a moment that somehow pastors or those in “full-time ministry” are in a greater place of importance. Rather, it’s a role God has assigned, just like any other role to anyone else. And God can change that role anytime he wants. Our “success” measure isn’t whether we pursue that role, but whether we’re obedient no matter what the role. (Perhaps that’s a better indicator of whether we’re helping to raise Christ-following disciples.)