Ministers, especially pastors, are often seen as wearing a variety of hats: counselor, preacher, teacher and, in some cases, musician or singer. According to Larry W. Barrett, pastor of House of Grace Church of Edgewood, Texas, there are differences in pastoring a small, rural congregation and a suburban neighborhood congregation and both can be significantly different from a mega-church operation.
In over 30 years of ministry, Barrett has served in a variety of ministry capacities: Sunday School teacher, outreach director for a large metropolitan church bussing in over 400 kids each Sunday, pastor, associate pastor, worship leader, choir director, musician and singer. He has also served in district and state offices for the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.).
When asked how he answered the call of God to ministry, the term ministers use to describe how they came to be one in the first place, Barrett said, “I can’t answer for everybody else, but for myself it was just something that, number one, I never planned on doing; was the least thing in my mind to do, but it was just something that kept pulling on my spirit.”
Barrett said ministry has its challenges, but it also has its rewards. He has learned over the years to balance the challenges of ministry with family and personal obligations.
“I didn’t handle it well early on,” he said. Over the years he has learned the secret to successful ministry and a fulfilling personal life.
“God created the family before He created the church,” he said. Barrett believe is the family is right, the church will be right, which is why he makes sure he takes time for his family at this stage of his ministry and offers the opportunity to his congregants.
“People work five days a week. They work in the yard on Saturday. If there are two services on Sunday, they are back to work on Monday and there’s no time for family.” Barrett’s solution is one service on Sunday to allow families to spend time together.
He says the demands are different between sizes of churches because of location, resources and the expectations of churchgoers in different locations, but that generally, all most churches want to see growth in the community and people receive Christ as Savior.
He said some of the perception of ministers is a little inaccurate.
“People put ministers on a pedestal, forgetting they are just human,” he said. This doesn’t mean Barrett believes ministers should not be held accountable, but that people need to remember ministers can and, sometimes, do fail. He also said that doesn’t excuse bad behavior, but people need to remember humans, even ministers, can make mistakes.
While Barrett enjoys his calling (a distinction he makes as opposed to a job) and has and continues to mentor young ministers, he does offer one piece of advice for those who believe they have been called to minister.
“You better make sure the call is from God,” he said.