- The Bible. A pastor’s first priority is to preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:2). A pastor-in-training’s first priority should be to study the Word.
- Holiness. The primary qualifications for an elder are moral and spiritual (1 Tim. 3:2-7). A pastor is to shepherd his people by his own example (1 Pet. 5:3). Therefore a man pursuing the ministry must diligently seek after consistent, hard-fought holiness.
- Humility. To shepherd God’s flock you must follow Jesus’ example in serving, rather than being served (Mk. 10:45). Humility must be a distinguishing mark of an under-shepherd of God’s sheep.
- How to preach. Since preaching is the main work of a pastor, a pastor-in-training should seek every possible opportunity to preach. He should also solicit the criticism and advice of experienced pastors.
- How to disciple. In order to be a pastor, a man should know how to personally instruct, encourage, counsel, comfort, and rebuke his fellow Christians. Not only that, but in order to even consider being a pastor he should have a track record of personally doing people spiritual good in these ways.
- What the Bible says about the church. The apostle Paul says that when he came to Corinth, he laid a foundation like a skilled master builder (1 Cor. 3:10). In order to build wisely, a pastor must know what he’s building. Therefore a pastor-in-training must diligently study God’s own blueprints for the church which he’s given in his Word.
- How to handle criticism, encouragement, and flattery. A pastor will receive all three. He needs to know how to humbly receive and profit from criticism, gratefully receive and profit from encouragement, and wisely deflect flattery.
- Patience. Young men who are training for ministry don’t usually have an overabundance of patience. That’s a problem, because pastoral ministry requires it in spades. Pastors-in-training should pray for patience, cultivate patience, and learn from experienced pastors how to serve the same people day in and day out for decades.