Top 10 biblical priorities for every pastor…revealed.

A couple of weeks ago, I put a question out there asking, What are the top 10 biblical priorities for every pastor and asked for your suggestions and input.  Now that the Call Conference has come and gone (which went very well), it is time to reveal my top 10.  Keep in mind these are the priorities of every pastor that focus on the care for souls in our charge in our local church.  This means being an evangelist, taking heed to ourselves, and shepherding the souls of our wife and children are all not on there, but are clearly commanded to be a priority in the pastor’s life.

The umbrella to which these top 10 priorities all fit come from the direct command to God’s shepherds to “Shepherd the flock of God among you (1 Peter 4:2).”   The shepherds are to watch over the flock as one who will give an account (Heb. 13:17) until the Chief Shepherd appears (1 Peter 5:4).  They are…

1)      Guard the truth (1 Tim 4.6-7, 16; 6.20-21; 2 Tim 1.13-14; 2.1-2)

2)      Preach and teach the Word (1 Tim 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 6.2)

3)      Pray for the flock (Eph. 6:18-20, 1 Thess. 5:17; Acts 6.2)

4)      Set an example (1 Tim 4.12; 1 Pt 5.3 cf. 1 Cor 11.1)

5)      Visit the sick (James 5:14, Matt. 25:31-40)

6)      Comfort the grieving (1 Thess. 4:13-17, John 11)

7)      Care for widows (1 Tim. 5:3, Acts 6:1-7)

8)      Confront sin (1 Cor. 5, Matt. 18, 1 Thess. 3, Titus 3)

9)      Encourage the faint-hearted (1 Thess. 5:14, Rom. 14:1)

10)    Identify and train other leaders (Acts 6:1-7, 13:1-3; 2 Tim 2.2)

The top 3 are there because without the truth being guarded and preached, we have nothing.  I assume no one would dispute prayer for the flock filling in the top 3.  Another observation to make is that the last 3 are the ones hardest to prioritize because they are the tasks that have little immediate fruit or reward. 

There they are.  I welcome your thoughts.  My talk at the conference on these 10 priorities will be available by video in the next week or two.  When it is available, I will let you know.


Posted in Oversight of Souls, The Pastor's Soul, Training for Ministry
24 comments on “Top 10 biblical priorities for every pastor…revealed.
  1. Carl Johnson says:

    I suspect I know how you might respond but I am curious that there is no explicit mention of leading the church. How come?

    • briancroft says:

      Good question. Exercising oversight 1 peter 5 would fall under guard the truth which would include leading in a variety of ways.

      • Scott Davis says:

        Thank you Brian. I appreciate your heart. Do you have more on the leading of the church. I am interested in your thoughts. What does leading as a pastor look like? A lot of people want the CEO model. That doesn’t leave much time for your top ten in my experience. Yet leadership is important for the health of the church. Any insights would be appreciated. Thank you for your ministry.

        • briancroft says:

          Exercise oversight (1 Peter 5:1-4) is a big part of guard the truth where I address the CEO model and why it is not the most helpful way to view the pastor’s task to lead.

  2. AE says:

    Great list, Brian, and I’m sure the saints were edified in the UK with your teaching. I know you’ve led our church through your top 10 list.

  3. Thank you again Brian for your insight. Something like this helps me prioritize my time to make sure I am diligent at these tasks, especially 5-10.

  4. Mike Williams says:

    Thanks I will use this, very helpful.

  5. wow what a list…i guess its not just for pastors but 4those who are aspiring to be one…very weighty priorities…

  6. Bob Kellemen says:

    Great list. I’d like to re-post it at the Biblical Counseling Coalition with attribution, if that is acceptable. I am curious why Eph. 4:11-12 (4:11-16) and Equipping the Saints for the Work of the Ministry (speaking the truth in love one to another so the whole body grows up into Christ who is the Head) is not listed. I would list it as number 1.

    • briancroft says:

      Sure, Bob. Feel free. There is much wrapped up in guard the truth, including what you are saying. I may do a separate blog post on a few of these to show how other things coming to your mind are included. Much of the pastor’s leadership is in guard the truth.

  7. Jim Coyle says:

    Hi Brian,

    it was real pleasure having you over in Scotland, you and the other guys have had a real impact for God’s kingdom, of that I am sure. I am still working through Jeremy’s word on take heed to yourself, very challenging, I guess we will be working through those truths till God calls us home.

    Prayer and blessings

  8. scott price says:

    Hi Brian, while I’m sure it is assumed, the top priorities of a shepard must be to answer sincerely, “Do You Love Me”. Next, would be constant prayer. Next would be meditating in His word and beholding His beauty so that you can be transformed in the inner man and know Him. For some reason, Pastor’s list of priorities goes horizontal so immediately and leaves off the critical components of a ministry that Paul says would commend a pastors work as outlined in 2 Cor 6. in truth, in sincerity, in love, in patience, in the Holy Spirit, in the power of God. The giftiing from God of these fruits and manifest works fo the Spirit would be my priorities. Then the 10 you’ve listed.

    • DH says:

      Scott, you expressed precisely what I was thinking. This list is excellent and extremely helpful, but all of it is for naught unless we are, as you say, on our face and knees in prayer constantly seeking and worshiping God. As Mathis from desiringgod so beautiful put it: “If the chief theme of our lives is not worshiping Jesus, enjoying God in him, and being freshly astounded by his grace toward us sinners, we have no good business endeavoring to bring others into an experience that we ourselves aren’t enjoying.”

  9. Brian Karlik says:

    Thanks for this list. It seems that some of these are general priorities for all Christians and not specifically for pastors. Where is the Scriptural support that visiting the sick and grieving is a “specific” pastoral priority? It seems to me that there is more emphasis on teaching, preaching, and defending truth. The rest seems to be a part of the pastor leading the church to do ministry and not personal involvement.

  10. jun ang says:

    just a question. why doesn’t #10 come earlier?

  11. Kevin Subra says:

    I came up with two categories of responsibilities, 12 each. They obviously overlap, but there are many essential functions of a pastor:

    12 Leading Functions:

    12 Feeding Functions:

  12. bruce nichols says:

    hi, great list. only comment would be to raise the tenth item to number five. just a thought. by the way, i hope you are taking good care of matthew spandler-davison for us. we look forward to meeting with him again. 🙂

  13. Mike Bennett says:

    Great list. It definitely challenged me. I know each category is broad and many topic fit under each, but I like trying to define priorities. In a list of this magnitude, I almost find it hard to put it in some numerical order. I would agree with you that 1-3 are at the top, and are basically equal, but 4-10 could really be laid out in any order. Do you think that the present state of our ministry helps define the order somewhat? In the Pastorate I am in now, my list flows a little differently than if I had written it in my previous one. Thank you for you encouragement!

  14. Brian, I love the list and agree that every one of these is a high priority in our ministry. But I think it could lead to a false dichotomy and send the message to pastors that other aspects of church administration are “less spiritual.”

    The church is a non-profit business. Administration and oversight are inevitable. For example, I pastor a small church with only one part-time secretary. Beyond all the duties you mentioned above, I’ve had to provide computer and printer tech support, track our monthly budget, develop safety procedures, schedule children’s ministry volunteers, plan fellowship and outreach activities, write bulletin and newsletter announcements and articles, edit and upload sermons to our podcast, attend church committee and denominational meetings, etc.

    These elements of ministry can be time consuming and spiritually draining. But someone has to do them. I know in an ideal world, I would “delegate” many of these duties to qualified individuals, but in a small church it’s just not always possible — especially for the first few years.

    Perhaps your list could somehow reflect the dignity and sacredness of these more “mundane” aspects of administration and oversight.

    • briancroft says:

      Well said, Stephen. I too pastor a small church of 100 folks and have no secretary. Admin is inevidible for us. I think that falls under the idea of “exercising oversight” under guard the truth, which I will explain in more detail in a post hopefully next week, Lord willing.

      • Emmanuel says:

        You americans are funny: “I too pastor a small church of 100 folks and have no secretary” In my part of the world 100 folks in a church would make it a mega-church. Pastors are worn out and discouraged, with hardly anyone to cover the pulpit if they want a break.
        On the serious side, I am surprised that in a 100 strong church (call it small if you want) there is no one who can assist you with some of the admin work, even if only a few hours a week. But I don’t know your context. Or did I read too much when you say you don’t have a secretary?

  15. James Sanders says:

    I enjoyed the list you placed up brother. Especially the scriptures that you used to encourage deeper study and meditation on these truths. So many Pastors in America have lost their way into thinking our job is preaching on Sundays. I pray this will assist many Pastors as they serve Jesus flock.

    PS~I don’t consider Pastoring 100 people a small church especially if we actually Sheperd them:)

  16. Benito says:

    Neglecting our own spiritual needs to serve the needs of others is counterproductive. Our relationship to God is more important than our service. Our number 1 priority in our pastoral ministry or in our Christian lives is to love God. The pastor needs to watch more than just his doctrine closely, but of equal importance, his worship, prayer life, and personal reading of scripture. “before ever we are shepherds and teachers, we are first and foremost sons of God, and our spiritual lives demand to be nurtured”
    Our ‘secret lives’ with God, those when we are alone, must become our top priority if we are to guide others in a like manner. The quantity of our ministry may overshadow this time, but God searches the quality of our service and hearts.

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