Stuart Briscoe writes, "Qualifications of a pastor (or any Christian leader): the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros."
Maybe one of the most succinct but accurate assessments of what a pastor needs ever written.
"The mind of a scholar"
The congregation wants you to know God intimately and His Word as completely as it can be. You can toss that off with a flippant answer such as "I'm no theologian", but that's exactly what they want you to be. They come to you for answers - yes, sometimes because they haven't done the work, but more often it seems because they trust you to put what it says in context for them.
"The heart of a child.."
What does that mean? My theory has always been that in the jaded cynical world in which we live, people want to know someone really believes - that someone really loves - that someone is really amazed and in awe of God. Too many have lost the ability along the way, and they draw on yours.
"The hide of a rhinocerous..."
So many of those in the ministry go forth in love, believing that because they do, people will love them back, and like them. Not necessarily, and if you set yourself up as needy in those areas, it can be devastating. Listening to someone tell you everything you've ever done wrong, every area you are deficient in, and dismissing your every attempt to help them understand your actions can shred your psyche, unless you do not take every criticism of your actions personally. You have to be able to take it. Ministry is not for the thin-skinned. You are dealing with people in need, people in crisis, people trapped in sin - they will hurt you. A thick skin is a real asset. It enables you to endure the blows, and actually learn from them.
Briscoe left one thing out though. Just as the Rhino typically does not go through life alone, neither can the pastor.
We need friends. People who we can open up to, share joys and heartaches with - people who love us for who we are, not for what we are doing.
I thank God for those I have. May their tribe increase.