When it comes to the topic of youth pastor/senior pastor relations, there simply is no “norm”. And, I’m not even sure there is an “ideal” we should all strive to attain. Is it ideal to have a cordial, yet mostly non-existent relationship? Some would say yes while others would deem such a relationship unhealthy. Is it ideal to have a close, almost partnership-like relationship? Again, reasonable minds may easily disagree on that.
So I’m uncomfortable prescribing what the ideal relationship between you and your senior pastor should look like, but I’m very comfortable sharing a few tips that may help strengthen it, regardless of it’s current state or desired future!
Here are five easy ideas that have helped me over the years:
Practice The “No Surprises” Principle. Most senior pastors want to have your back, if you let them. Let him know about the upset parent before said parent tracks him down in the foyer. Let her hear about the dent in the church bus from you not the insurance adjuster.
Be A Team Player. Chances are there’s a lot going on at your church and not enough help getting it all done. Odds are high that your pastor has an idea or dream or new initiative he’d like to launch but doesn’t know who to ask. When she presents a new project or opportunity in the staff meeting, be the one who actually makes eye contact instead of staring at the floor in hopes of avoiding getting pegged to lead the charge. Simply asking your pastor if there’s anything you can do to help lighten his load from time to time is an incredibly effective way to strengthen your relationship.
Toot Your Own Horn. Toot it quietly and not too often, but toot it. Send them an email telling them how great the mid-week service went (share some specific highlights). Give them a call right after the retreat to let them know about commitments that were made by teenagers. Don’t assume good news about your youth group is magically arriving on your Pastor’s doorstep. Deliver it yourself.
Toot Their Horn. Toot it loudly and very often! Become a public and private advocate. Look for opportunities to speak favorably of them. Stick up for them when church members or other staff mumble behind her back. Senior Pastors often self-identify as extremely lonely and isolated, so look for ways to be known as an ally.
Pray For Your Pastor. While praying for them may not change how they relate to you, I promise you it will change how you relate to them! Simply put, praying for your Pastor will soften your heart, expand your capacity to extend grace and chip away at any bitterness and frustration. Too disillusioned by the current state of your relationship to pray that God would work on their heart? Then don’t. Instead, pray for them and ask God to work on yours.
Have a great week. Thanks for ministering to teenagers and their families!