What’s a Pastor to Do?

Some practical guidelines for a Lead Pastor’s time.

It’s hard for me to believe I pastored one church for 31 ½ years. That’s a long time. I’ve had people ask me, “How did you do it?” I tell them, “Stubbornness!” Seriously, it was God’s grace and people’s patience that allowed us to stay as long as we did.

However, I’m reminded how quickly life goes by. The Psalmist prayed that God would “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” Psalm 90:12 (ESV). In other words, it’s only as we recognize our finiteness and limitations that we begin to be wise.

One of the challenges for every lead pastor is knowing what they should be doing. They can’t do everything, so what are the priorities? What is the wisest use of the time that God gives us?


Here four things I found were important for a lead pastor to do. I think you’ll agree, they should be part of every pastor’s job description.

1. Preach the Word.

One of the primary roles of the lead pastor is to preach. One of my greatest joys was to see God change lives through the clear, practical teaching of His Word.  In my ministry I tried to set aside at least 15 hours a week to study and prepare for the weekend message. For many years, we had a team around me to help with the content and creative ways to communicate the message.

2. Set clear direction.

The pastor should be the chief vision caster for the church. The direction is not determined by us, but we must keep the church headed in the right direction. Too often a congregation can get stuck in a ruck. It’s too easy to do what we have done without asking the tough questions. Is this program still effective? Does it fit?

Some one said that all vision leaks. That means you must continually share it. As the lead pastor you are tasked with keeping the vision alive and in front of people.

 “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.”  Proverbs 29:18

3. Develop leadership.

We are called to make disciples. We also should never try to do the work of ministry by ourselves. As a lead pastor we must equip others and build teams to do the ministry God has called each Christian to do. The Apostle Paul says that there are good works which God has prepared in advance for believers to do! During my ministry I had a goal of spending about 10-15 hours each week with staff and leaders.

Building up leaders is a relationally intensive task. Shared experiences and multiple layers of connection help to build strong and healthy teams. We prayed together, studied the Word together, planned together, and had fun times together.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” Ephesians 4:11-12

4. Care for people.

It doesn’t matter how large your church may be, you must set aside time to personally care for others. Some pastoral duties should be delegated to staff, but you should never stop being a pastor. I always was part of doing funerals and weddings. I never gave up hospital calling but did less as our church grew. We need to be available to counsel, support, and encourage others in the church family. I set aside a minimum of 10 hours a week to respond to the needs and concerns of our congregation

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.”1 Peter 5:2


All of us have 168 hours a week. We can’t stop the clock, but we can stop doing things that are not important. One exercise I found to be invaluable in my own life was creating an ideal week. Of course my reality was often different from my carefully planned ideal but it offered a framework into which I can plug appointments and commitments. It reminded me that in ministry, often the people are the ministry task, not an interruption! What do you think a lead pastor should be doing? I’d love to hear from you!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Chris Neilson says:

    So impressed by “What’s A Pastor To Do” – well put Brother.

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carl J Duhrkoop says:

    Exactly right. Not only a good outline for what a pastor should plan for each week, but a great way to check up on our pastoral ministry. I would add to the summation: have someone to check in with; a pastoral peer, a pastor/parish committee (or representative) or a staff meeting, to be accountable to regarding these priorities. I knew that reporting how I was doing helped to motivate me to keep on track with these priorities.


    1. Good input! I would see coaching helping with that, too!


  3. Tom Hurt says:

    Hey Randy, I would add one thing to your list and possibly it is “understood” to be a part of the other three reminders. I think another critical thing that pastor’s must do is to pray. We need to be careful to remember that all our preaching, leading and caring should be experienced in the context of communication with God in prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely agree. Without prayer, we are just doing it on our own strength.


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