“I love it when you preach!”
“I wish our pastor had as much passion as you do.”
“When are you going to be a senior pastor?”
“You’ve got such great ideas! Our church could use them!”
Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end on some of those statements. Some I’ve heard. Some I’ve heard other student pastors tell me they’ve heard.
All of them are dangerous if not treated with caution.
The truth of the matter is, I am currently the student pastor at my church. Specifically, the student pastor to middle school students.
Guess what that means?
Being the senior pastor is not in my job description.
But early on in my ignorance and in my pride, I thought that if I was given the chance, I wouldn’t do a half bad job of being the head guy. I could preach. I did it every Wednesday night. I could make hospital visits. I did every Friday. I could have a vision for the church to follow. I made one for the student ministry. If I’d be given the reins, I could boost attendance, calm the quarrels, and make the church a booming success and a great asset to the Kingdom of God!
I’ve since become smarter (if only slightly so).
Now you may go to a church where everyone absolutely loves the senior pastor and there is no question whether or not he should be in charge. Not everyone does. Some churches are split (literally and figuratively) on who should be the pastor. And many can tend to think that the student pastor would be a good candidate.
Parents. Students. Grandparents. Former students who still attend your church.
The longer you stay in your spot as the student pastor, the more people you will be able to influence to think that you’d make a good head pastor.
Unless your church is actively searching out a senior pastor and you actually want the job (after spending a long time in prayer), back off.
Your church hired you to be the student pastor. That’s it. Sure, sometimes that means you visit sick people in the hospital. Sometimes you do funerals. Sometimes you may even preach to the whole congregation. Don’t let those small and far between opportunities to minister to a different age group cause you to think you could do the pastor’s job.
I’ve been in ministry long enough to know that the pastor has to deal with so much more than preaching on Sunday mornings and making a few hospital visits. I also know that God has not given me a passion to be the head guy. I’ve been called to play second fiddle to the pastor’s lead (actually, in our org chart it’s more like 5th fiddle, but I digress).
If you’re the student pastor: be the student pastor.
Answer these questions if you’re having trouble deciding whether or not God is calling you to the role senior pastor.
You have been called to serve the senior pastor and his vision. Is it difficult to serve under the pastor’s vision? It may be time to consider if it’s your heart or your calling changing.
Would you consider being the head pastor at any church, or is it just the church you are currently employed at?
Would you be willing to have a face to face conversation with the head pastor about your desire to pastor? If not, back off.
Do you enjoy when people say you preached a great sermon? Remember that you probably had way more time to prepare than your pastor does. He gets a week if he’s lucky. You probably had a month. Plus, little Miss Gertrude who said you did an excellent job was probably just being nice or glad to hear a fresh voice.
Do you wish that you were spending more time with adults than ministering to students? It may be time to think about whether or not God is calling you out of student ministry.