I've been thinking lately about what are the three necessary traits of every pastor. Without them, he cannot fulfill the ministry the Lord has called him to. The following is the list I came up with.
1. A Robust Theology of the Gospel
Without this first key, no one belongs in the ministry. It isn't enough to be familiar with Scripture, one must have a robust understanding of its gospel message. It is the gospel that saves and sanctifies and it is the gospel that is the exclusive tool of the pastor in shepherding his flock.
While mentoring a young minister recently we discussed a specific situation of someone going through a difficult circumstance. Lacking a robust theology of the gospel, this young minister offered the hurting bumper sticker slogans ("time heals all wounds," etc) and singled out Bible verses. He offered no real comfort because he failed to articulate the only message that comforts: the gospel. We must be sound in our theology and confident in our handling of Scripture, but let us understand that God's Word points us directly to God's Son. The most important trait of the minister must be his theology of the gospel.
2. Submission to the Headship of Christ that Stirs up Humility in the Heart
There are three great temptations of every minister that has led to the downfall and disqualification of many: sex, money, and pride. The temptations of sex and money are public enough, but we rarely discuss the damage that a lack of humility does to the pastor. At its root is a refusal to submit to the headship of Christ. No pastor, regardless of his education or preaching ability, can build, grow, or bless a church. He is but a vessel, an instrument in the Redeemer's hands. In humility we must serve always directing others to Christ and never to ourselves. We should never be focused on building a platform for ourselves and not Jesus Christ.
3. Love for the Sheep Rooted in a Passionate Love for the Savior
Pastoral ministry is not a job, it is a calling. It is tempting to fulfill the responsibilities of ministry out of obligation - greet guests, visit the sick, prepare sermons, etc. This cannot be sustained for long. Unless the pastor deeply loves his people as a result of a growing, passionate love for his savior, his experience of ministry will be disappointing to say the least.