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10 vocations pastors would choose if they weren’t pastors

Thom Rainer headshot

What vocation would you choose if you were not a pastor?

That is the question I posed on social media. Both the nature and the quantity of the responses are indicative that many pastors think about this matter. We received well over 1,000 responses. A number of them are bi-vocational, so they have already chosen a second vocation. 

Here are the top 10 responses in order of frequency:

  1. Teacher. Most of the pastors specified high school or elementary teachers. A few mentioned professors in universities or seminaries.
  2. Coaching a sport’s team. There were a variety of choices among the various sports, but high school football was the most frequently noted.
  3. Law enforcement/first responder. More of the respondents chose police as their alternative vocation, but firefighter was a clear second choice.
  4. Small business owner/entrepreneur. Some of the pastors were very specific about the nature of this path, particularly with options in the digital world.
  5. Skilled laborer. These responses were really varied. They included such vocations as woodworker, plumber, electrician, and mechanic.
  6. Denominational worker. These respondents obviously wanted to remain in vocational ministry as their second choice.
  7. Chaplaincy. The most common choice was hospital chaplain followed by military chaplain.
  8. Broadcaster. These responses included radio broadcasting, television personalities, and play-by-play announcers for sports teams.
  9. Counselor/therapist. The pastors who responded with this choice often mentioned that counseling was the most fulfilling aspect of pastoral ministry.
  10. Medical field. Physicians and nurses were the most frequently mentioned.

Pastors offered dozens of outlier responses. Here are a few of the stranger comments. None of these were offered by more than one pastor. That is totally understandable. 

  • Lion trainer
  • High King of Gondor
  • Tollbooth attendant in Florida
  • Exotic dancer
  • Cranky deacon
  • Hot dog vendor
  • Billionaire
  • Playing cowbell in a band
  • Smoking pork butts and inhaling
  • Trophy husband
  • Dolphin trainer
  • Ninja turtle
  • Raiser of zebras
  • Custom treehouse designer
  • Disney monorail driver

Thanks, pastors. Have a great 2021.

Originally published at Church Answers 

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Rainer has written over 30 books, including three that reached number one bestseller: I Am a Church Member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, and Simple Church. His new book, The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation, is available now.

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