12 Qualities Every Pastor Should Have (Effective Characteristics)

Every effective pastor should have a strong set of qualities which allow them to lead others to Christ. No two pastors are the same and therefore no two pastors will have the same set of characteristics.

There are, however, a broad set of traits that good pastors develop. In the list below, we’ll touch on the qualities needed to be a pastor. The list is not complete, but it should provide insight to what makes an effective church leader.

No. 1 Leadership

Hebrews 13:7
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

It goes without saying that an effective pastor should be a great leader. There are so many references to leadership in the Bible and its influence on faith.

The ability to lead is important for anyone, in any walk of life, but essential for pastors. Pastors provide leadership in good times and bad.

A good leader knows when it’s time to share a wise word, or when it’s appropriate to make others laugh.  A good pastor strives to point other believers in the right direction (learn how to become a Prayer Warrior).

No. 2 Patience

Proverbs 15:18
A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. 

An effective pastor should be patient and practice patience daily.

A patient person listens to others and strives to understand. Patience may appear in a pastor during a difficult situation or when listening to an opposing perspective. Patience can often be witnessed around children

A patient pastor is slow to anger and uses a calm tone or unthreatening body language to respond to controversy (also read: Fun Pastor Appreciation Ideas).

Practiced within the church, patience will make a congregation feel at ease and make a pastor more approachable. All too often, life can become stressful and tensions arise. Patience is an essential characteristic for every pastor.

No. 3 Accountability

Proverbs 27:17
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Accountability is an important characteristic for pastors to have. Congregations routinely listen to pastor’s sermons as they speak on the importance of accountability.

Just as church members, spouses, and small group members are expected to keep each other accountable, so too must pastors be accountable to the church.

>> Also Read: Writing Your Pastor A “Thank You”

Accountability is a welcome word to pastors who hold themselves to a higher standard. A pastor might request that a board or associate pastor meet with them to keep them accountable. However, a pastor should hold themselves accountable as well.

As an effective pastor, it’s essential to practice what you preach. Set an example for others to follow.

No. 4 Humility

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

A piece of humble pie can be tough for anyone to swallow, let alone a pastor who preaches to hundreds of people each week. A leader in a church is bound to receive a lot of attention (and praise if things are going well).

In order to be an effective leader, pastors should continually remind themselves that although they may lead a church, their role is also to serve God and those in the church. Humility means knowing when to thank those around you and when to give credit to God (also read my article on How to Encourage Your Pastor).

A humble pastor will defer praise to all when a church achieves a goal.

No. 5 Family Oriented

Psalm 133:1
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.

How often do you see pastors surrounded by family? In my experience it’s common to see a pastor seated next to a spouse, children, or parents.  Rarely have I seen a pastor without some form of family nearby.

“Family values” wasn’t a term created by accident. Families teach us how to care for others and give us greater appreciation for God’s creation.

Families also give pastors plenty of examples to pull from when teaching and leading others. Family experiences are something easy to relate to when growing in Christ.

All Christians should build strong family values and pastors should be committed to family (both literal and the church family).

No. 6 Respectful

Luke 6:31
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

An important quality of being a pastor is respect. Leaders in the church are often given ample amounts of respect for their sacrifices to lead others to Christ. Pastors should share the respect they receive with church members, friends and family, as well as their community.

Effective pastors are respectful no matter the situation. Respect can be demonstrated in a variety of situations, including:

  • People’s time
  • Differing opinions
  • Attending events
  • Thanking others (make it a habit)
  • Individual’s unique and often challenging situations

No. 7 Lifelong Learner

Matthew 7:7
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Curious people tend to continually learn. Earning a degree or attending seminary doesn’t mean you’ve completed learning.

A pastor maybe knowledgeable and may have a firm grasp on the Bible, but it’s important to continue thinking critically about God and how his teachings can be applied. There is an oft mentioned quote by Aristotle that applies to learning: “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know”.

>> check out these Common Youth Pastor Interview Questions

An effective pastor will seek to learn and grow as a leader. A pastor will take their knowledge and practice how they convey it to others.

No. 8 Trustworthy

Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

The verse above talks about trusting God, however, we should also be able to trust our pastors.

Pastors are trained in several disciplines. They must be able to communicate, to lead others, to analyze and interpret the Bible.

Similarly, a pastor should be able to provide council to members of the church.

Pastors routinely meet with individuals and couples. They help people navigate through challenges and help couples prepare for marriage.  Many of these conversations are personal and therefore trust is a requisite.

A pastor’s trust should also be present in other areas of the church. Financial management is important, as a pastor will have knowledge and influence for how funds are spent.

A congregation must trust their pastor’s vision for the future. Are decisions being made for the future of the church or are they being made from self-ambition of a pastor?

A good pastor will earn his church’s trust, as well as his community, through action over time.

No. 9 Ability To Delegate

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching,
for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.

The Scripture above explains that God teaches all of us to live in righteousness. Just because someone has the title of “pastor” does not necessarily make them more knowledgeable or skilled than others in the church.

A good pastor identifies those in his congregation who have gifts from God and uses those people to better serve the Lord.  Some people in the church will have decades of experience in accounting – let them oversee the churches financials.

Other people may have established schools and be experts in teaching – let them create the curriculum for youth programs.

>> How To Write A Thank You Note To Your Pastor

The art of delegation is a learned skill, but certainly, a quality that an effective pastor will have. Although pastors will be involved in many church and community activities, there is only so much time in a day. Good pastors will work with others to build strength in the church.

No. 10 Communication

Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Have you ever heard someone say “she’s a natural communicator”? It may seem surprising, but no body is born with the ability to communicate. It’s a learned skill, and yes, some people develop the skill easier than others.

A pastor’s ability to communicate is extremely important and it’s a quality honed over years or study and practice. Most people envision a pastor communicating in front of a pulpit, however, most of a pastor’s communication will be away from the pulpit. Here are a few examples:

  • Meetings
  • Counseling
  • Weddings
  • Funerals
  • Community engagements

Pastors must be willing to be public speakers. They are often looked to for feedback or comments on issues regarding the church, however, they also communicate with people outside the church on a daily basis.

A good communicator knows how to convey an idea or opinion in a way that a listener can relate to. It may include a story or an example. It may include anecdotes from Scripture or other literature. Communication takes practice and pastors should be expected to practice often!

No. 11 Vision

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.

A quality that all good pastors have is vision. Having vision allows a pastor to plan for the future. After all, isn’t the main purpose of a pastor to prepare us for our future in heaven?

As Christians we spend a lot of time preparing for the future. A pastor should help their congregation to better understand what’s in store for them when we depart this life.

A pastor should also have a vision for their congregation and the church.  Compared to an eternity with God, this vision seems rather shortsighted.

A vision for the church should be centered on improving existing church services and preparing to meet future needs of faith. Having vision is similar to having a plan and executing the plan is just as important.

No. 12 Action Oriented

James 1:23-35
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,
he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres,
being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

What good is knowledge without action? In James chapter 1, we learn about hearers and doers. All people have the ability to do both, but it’s often easier to be a hearer.

A pastor can’t accept being a hearer. With all the characteristics needed to be an effective pastor, taking action is of high importance.

A pastor shouldn’t sit in the back of the class. Rather, they should be an active participant, eager to learn and implement God’s teaching.

Likewise, a pastor shouldn’t just direct others to take action. A pastor should lead by example.

Conclusion

Do you have the qualities to be a good pastor? There are many characteristics that are necessary to lead others in Christ, and this list is not exhaustive.

If you are a pastor, or are considering becoming one, a self-evaluation can highlight your strengths and weaknesses. Rank the qualities shared in this article from strongest to weakest. Then, ask 1-2 people you trust (possibly your pastor) to do the same for you.

Compare how you view yourself with how others view you and create an action plan to improve each characteristic (even your strongest).

Pastors come from varying backgrounds with unique experiences and perspectives.