20 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Pastor

8. Attacks from inside your church will be worse than from the outside.

You will expect some attack from the enemy outside of the church. It’s the enemy’s attacks from within, like Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, that hurt the most.

9. You will not be discipled unless you seek it out yourself.

The people who you want to mentor you are busy. Nobody has ever seen my “great young potential” and gone out of their way to disciple me. Every mentor I ever had in my life I had to pursue myself.

10. You will have to fight pessimism, bitterness and even depression.

You will have seasons of doubt in God’s provision, resentment toward people in your church and even depression. One of the darkest years of my life was the result of a bad ministry experience.

11. Your success in the eyes of others will be measured by how many people you can get in a room.

I wish this weren’t true, but it is. If your ministry grows, people will praise you. If it shrinks, they will blame you. Like it or not, that’s how people think.

12. You will never be good enough.

No matter what you do, some people won’t like you. You will never be good enough to please everyone. You will also often feel inadequate and unprepared in your own eyes. You have to let this drive you to a greater dependence on Jesus. You are not the savior everyone needs; he is.

13. Your family will be profoundly affected either good or bad.

Like it or not, your ministry will profoundly impact your family. Some families grow closer to the Lord together in ministry; others grow further apart. Ministry will either make your family better or bitter. Fight bitterness.

14. Without a seminary degree, you will be considered less qualified.

I wish I would have pursued seminary earlier in my ministry. Not just because of perception, but also because the education has been invaluable to me. You can argue about whether you need it or not, but you will be judged if you don’t. And not getting proper education might hold you back.

15. Money will be a problem.

You will struggle financially—especially early on. Most pastors are not compensated enough. You have to be ready for this going in. Will you be OK if you can’t buy new clothes, a nice house, or get your wife and kids the things you wish you could?

16. You will likely move many times.

The average stay of a pastor at a church varies depending on their role. However, most pastors I know, including myself, have lived in multiple cities working for multiple churches over their life. The pastor who works in only one church their entire life is admirable and rare.

17. When you have to leave a church, you will leave many friends too.

Whether you choose to leave, or the choice is made for you, you will lose more than a job; you lose a church family. There is always a painful sense of loss when leaving a ministry. Your wife and kids will also feel it.

18. Spiritual warfare is real, and the enemy will attack you and your family in ways you never imagined.

Every pastor can tell you stories of crazy things that happen at the worst times. If Satan cannot derail you, he will go after your family. My family always gets attacked before God does something great. Pray often, and ask others to pray for your family too.

19. You will be discouraged, and think about quitting often.

Most pastors call these days Monday. Even if things go well on Sunday, the enemy will use that one negative comment to bring you down if he can.

20. It will all be worth it!

There is nothing greater than the reward of a life submitted faithfully to Christ. You will suffer. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Accepting God’s call to ministry is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

You will have a front-row seat to see lives changed, marriages healed and prodigal sons return. The impact you leave will outlive your life. Generations of families will change because you were faithful and did not give up.

If this article sounds too negative, there are also many reasons I am thankful to be a pastor. If this article makes you upset, it should. Unfortunately, this is the reality most pastors face every day.

Can you relate? What do you wish someone told you before becoming a pastor?  

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Brandon Hilgemann
Brandon has been on a ten-year journey to become the best preacher he can possibly be. During this time, he has worked in churches of all sizes, from a church plant to some of the largest and fastest growing churches in the United States. Brandon writes his thoughts and ideas from his journey at ProPreacher.com.