Keeping Good Communication with your Senior Pastor
One of the most counter-intuitive portions of youth ministry is an intentional pursuit of a good relationship with your senior pastor. That's not to say youth pastors don't want one - we just generally don't start off knowing how to sustain one.
When I started in youth ministry, my idea of a relationship with my senior pastor was working hard without any communication. That's probably why I had such a hard time. I was fortunate enough to get a second chance at the church we've been at for the last three years, and I've learned a couple of big lessons along the way that might help you before you make the mistakes that I (and many others) have made in the past.
5 Questions to ask yourself:
- What are his values? If you value modernity, and your senior pastor values old school traditions, you're going to have a breakdown. If you don't value the same things, you can probably expect to disagree on a lot of foundational issues. Disagreement can be expected on a couple of issues, but if you disagree about your root beliefs in ministry, it's going to be very difficult to sustain a great relationship with your pastor.
- Do you talk negatively about your senior pastor around others? This is a tough one for a lot of us, because our hearts are involved in our work. Ministry isn’t just a paycheck. Our lives are steeped in our work. So when the leader makes a big mistake, it’s easy to want to vent to everyone who has an open ear. But watch yourself: are you giving the people around you a reason to stop following your senior pastor? This is a simple business rule. Talking negatively to those under your leadership about your leader is gossip. That’s never the solution! Guard against that!
- What questions does he repeatedly ask you? Andy Stanley once said that the questions a leader repeatedly asks usually drive the organization one way or the other. The point he makes is that when a leader, or boss to emphasize the point, asks the same set of questions over and over, you can see what is important to him or her. If you start paying attention to your senior pastor is asking you, it might give you some insight into what they want to see from you.
- Are you committed to him as you want him to be to you? A couple years ago, my senior pastor went through a pretty major challenge in ministry. I knew that he was fighting some tough issues. I walked in his office one day without any agenda or purpose, other than to tell that man that I believed in him and that I had his back. He looked at me as if I was the only person who’d ever said that to him. That was a moment that marked my relationship with him. Since then, we’ve walked through the trenches together in ministry as friends. It was simply the most powerful moment that he and I ever experienced together.
- If you were a senior pastor, would you hire you? Really? This is the question that should keep you up at night. Are you worth hiring? Youth pastors get a bad wrap for being lazy, uninspired, and having poor work ethics. So, this is the question I repeatedly ask myself: Would I hire me? If I were the senior pastor, would I want someone to come in late to work every day? Would I want someone who gossips about me? Would I want someone who ignores my leadership? Maybe the best thing you can do for yourself today is to do some honest self-exploration. Ask God to do some surgery on your heart.
If you’re like me, you could always use a little more intentionality in your relationship with your senior pastor. Choose today to show him that you have his back. What do you have to lose? What do you have to gain?
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