16 Often Unknown Roles of a Pastor

wear many hats

What is it you have to do when you’re not preaching?

Must be nice to only work one day a week.

I’d like to come see you this afternoon. Since it’s not Sunday I’m assuming you’re free.

Believe it or not, I’ve heard all of those. Most are simple misunderstandings. Sometimes people are just trying to be funny.

I must admit. It’s not always funny—not laugh out loud funny at least, because the jokes have grown stale by now. They are still new to someone, I suppose.

But, especially when it’s said as an indictment that pastors have it “easy” it can even hurt. That’s probably true even more for my pastor friends in smaller churches where they carry the weight of multiple staff positions.

What does a pastor do when not preaching?

That is a valid question. This is not meant to seem as a complaining post, but an informational post. You only know what you know. I don’t know what the doctor does when not seeing patients, or all the things that a teacher does when not in the classroom. Every job has its own responsibilities that are [not] clearly known until you do the job.

The answer for pastors is—lots of things. Lots. A day is seldom the same.

The pastor wears many hats. Some of them of which you may not even be aware.

Here are 16 often unknown roles of a pastor:

Counselor. All pastors do some counseling. Many pastors—I might add, most pastors—are not qualified to do extensive counseling. They can’t commit the required time, nor do they have the expertise. Still, some counseling is a part of nearly every pastor job.

Career coach. One of the most frequent requests for my ministry help has to do with people’s career steps—from school to employment. And I’ve heard similar from other pastors. Because work—or lack of work—greatly impacts a person’s life, it is a huge part of the pastor’s life. In fact, I keep a file of people in our church who are looking for work or looking for someone to hire.

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Ron Edmondson
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.