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The Pastor’s Resume: A Bible-Study for Young Pastors

The Pastor’s Résumé

What are the important qualifications of a person in pastoral leadership?




Q: If you were hiring the ideal pastor, what sorts of things would you look for, on his résumé?

Philippians 3:4-8


…although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ… (Philippians 3:4-8)

Q. What were Paul’s Qualifications?

– v. 5?

– v. 6?

– (see also Acts 22:3)

Q. Do you think you would hire someone with Paul’s résumé as a pastor?

Q. What importance did Paul place on his education, ethnicity, and religious zeal? Did he think these things qualified him for ministry? (3:7)

Q. What does Paul consider most important? (3:8)

Q. Is this out of reach, or in reach for you?

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Q. Did Paul use his education to preach in Corinth? (2:1)

Q. What did he use to preach with? (2:4)

Q. How does Paul describe his emotions, and his presentation? (2:3)

Q. What does it mean to preach by the Spirit, in power, while not speaking with “superior speech”? What does it mean to preach in the spirit with “weakness and fear and much trembling”?

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:5-12)

Q. What does it mean to preach Christ as Lord, and not ourselves? (4:5)

Q. What does it mean for the light of knowledge, and the face of Jesus to shine in our hearts? Do you see and feel Jesus’ face and voice within you? Do you want to share that with others? (4:6)

Q. What does it mean to be “an earthen vessel,” with treasure inside? (4:7)

Q. How does this picture of a plain old pot with treasure inside relate to you as a pastor?

Q. (read 8-9) Which of these conditions do you especially relate to?

Q. How does dying to self demonstrate Christ’s life in us?

Q. How does dying to self produce life in our congregations?


Q. After what we have studied, what do you now think is important, for a pastor to have on his résumé?


  1. I think Paul would think that a resume is a thing of pride. Paul would not include his education, his family info, or any fleshly accomplishments. Paul had no confidence in the flesh. Only the carnal Christian would seek a pastor with degrees rather than callouses on his knees. Neither did he value lofty preaching. Paul came in a demonstration of he Spirit’s power- that he himself was a transformed man- under His anointing, and preached not the philosophy of this world, but knew nothing but Christ and Him crucified! If only there would be a generation that would rise up and depend wholly on the Holy Spirit, His leading, His guiding, and allow Him to place us where he desires as we seek His will in prayer rather than depend on our education, experience, and our pride. Paul’s resume was himself as a product of what the Spirit of God can do in man, how he can turn a religiously proud, murder threatening man into a real man of God.

    • I definitely agree with the spirit of your post, which is basically what I was trying to communicate here. It’s not about your qualifications, but about your relationship with the Lord.

      However, just for discussion…is it ALWAYS a thing of pride to provide a resume for a pastoring job? What is the alternative? Should a pastor show up to a search committe and say, “I pray lots and am a very spiritual person. Believe me! Now, please give me the job!” It’s GREAT if a church has watched a pastor grow up from within them, so they know his life. However, when people don’t know the pastor personally, refrences, at the very least, are necessary – just as they were for people that Paul sent, such as Timothy and Junia.

      Paul gives some very distinct qualifications for a pastor in 1 Tim. 3. Among them are “able to teach.” Now, that is very broad and obviously one will need to consider what level, and what type of teaching is required for the job. But if one is searching for a teaching pastor, who will only be preaching and teaching (like the early apostles), then some amount of theological training, with mastery of the original languages and much background knowledge on the Bible, and an ability to engage with culture would certainly be a plus. A degree would be one way of learning this knowledge – but years of experience and self-education would do it too.

      Also, Paul said, “first let a person be tested.” For most of us in ministry, we move around a lot. So our “testing” is in different places. So how can we show that we have passed the test – that we have proven ourselves to be faithful and fruitful in ministry elsewhere? Well, the same way that a resume would – but saying where we served, how long, and what the results were. And I am not so sure that Paul did not have a similar sort of thing, although his fame preceded him and he did not usually have to make use of it.

      So in summary, when we think of a search committee who – unfortunately – has to search for a new pastor, probably someone they have never met before, to fill a crucial role such as teaching pastor of a large and established church, would it be reasonable to ask them to do their search without looking at resume’s? Should they just pray with the candidates and “sense” which ones have “more power”? Power can be faked, and some of the most “spiritual” Christians I know leave a wake of destruction in their wake.

      So as much as the core of your comment, as well as my post – which are in agreement – is true (it really is about our hearts, and our relationship with God NOT about external qualifications) I wouldn’t go so far as to say that a pastor should never have a resume, or that a resume is always, necessarily a thing of pride.

  2. Josiah…ok…perhaps I was a little too hard on the resume! I must confess I do have a resume, but often struggle with pastoral resumes. When I hear search committees discard pastors who lack an MDiv, or have no experience leading a large church, I often think of men like Jim Cymbala and Carter Conlon. I also struggle with submitting a resume to a church. My first ministry assignment, I did not submit a resume and was hired as an assistant pastor over 22 others who did. In fact, it was a deacon to told the pastor that he believed that the right person was not in the pile of papers. I struggle with churches using business practices over biblical practices- not to say a resume is evil (I repent of my strong rebuke above:) )…that’s just where I am!

    • I think we are in strong agreement. I too think that our church practices, especially of late, have more to do with big-business models than with what the Bible actually teaches. In so many cases, it seems that “Church” has been reduced to a sort of business transaction: people come to “get fed” (aka feel better), and in so doing they bring in money. A better pastor brings in more people who bring in more money. This money generates a larger building which can host more people, and hire an even better speaker to make more people feel good and bring in more money, to perpetuate the institution of “church.”

      But God is holy, and obedience to Him almost always brings strong opposition, if not outright persecution. And following the Spirit usually runs straight against the grain of contemporary practice and business sense.

      But that being said, I suppose I have a resume too….and have used it…and would ask someone applying for a job to present a resume. But I guess I wouldn’t think of qualifications as the only, or even the most important thing on a resume, but the factors which will come out in discussions with the person themselves, with their references and with past churches they have been a part of.

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