Ten Vocations Pastors Would Choose If They Weren’t Pastors

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 ten 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
  • Lion trainer
  • 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.

Posted on December 28, 2020

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • I will out of town on this date but I did sign up. Will the podcast be recorded so it can be viewed at a later date? I am willing to pay for it. Thanks for your ministry.
    God bless.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Keith –

      If you are speaking of a webinar, they are all recorded. You will get a notice when the recorded webinar is available. There is no charge.

  • My denomination has a retirement plan, so I can actually see the light at the end, so to speak. I almost don’t care what I do after retirement, as I will almost certainly get a job. All I want is a function in which I am not bearing the emotional burden of “making it work tomorrow.” I am exhausted from always planning, worrying; always having the next responsibility or “wise” decision weighing on my mind. I don’t mind working, but having to make things work and having people’s emotional hopes pinned on me is about to crush me. Crossing guard would work 8.65 years from now.

  • Not a wierd outlier but given Pastor’s propensity for reading, Research and personal/professional library building …surprised librarian wasn’t mentioned …i had privilege of being a 23 year veteran public library bookmobile and tech services librarian who became a PC/library automation specialist and later Chief Librarian, prior to leaving this challenging and enjoyable career around 15 yrs agk for my other passion of theology/biblical studies, preaching ministry and pastoral service.

  • Thank you Tom…Very interesting…I think I have done all those jobs…on a serious note…how many Pastors are co-vocational in the Southern Baptist Convention?

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