A healthy relationship with your senior pastor is a core part of a healthy youth ministry.
It doesn’t matter if your church is large, medium, small or a start-up—your roles can powerfully complement each other if you each discern how to powerfully compliment each other.
A lot gets in the way of that, and it isn’t just about ego or insecurities. Sometimes you both become so busy that a disconnect happens over time. The good news is you can nurture something healthier, starting today.
Here are four questions you need to ask your senior pastor to get the ball rolling:
“How often do you want to meet, and what for?”
In one church I served in, my senior pastor wanted to meet each week so we could synergize our efforts together. It was full of great encouragement and brainstorming. I instigated that pattern in the next church I served in, only that senior pastor found it annoying to meet every week. It ultimately degraded our relationship as he assumed I didn’t know how to do my job and needed extensive coaching. Make sure you both know how often you need to meet and what the purpose of that time will be.
“Do you need a safe place to just vent?”
When I made the transition to become a senior pastor, I suddenly became aware of perspective I was clueless about as a youth worker. This space is too small to list it all, but I will simply say that it adds up and isn’t always something you can debrief with your spouse about. Offer your senior pastor the chance to dump out what they’re sorting out, be it as a spiritual leader, parent, organizational boss or a human being. Honor that with confidentially and prayers.
“How can I serve you this week?”
You’ll likely be surprised by the answers you hear and don’t hear to this question. As I asked this of my senior pastors, I’d sometimes get a quick response such as, “I really need someone to teach this class for me. Can you do it?” Other times, I had to pull out something of them by saying, “It seems like you and your wife haven’t had a date night in ages. Can I watch your kids on Friday so you can go out?”
“Who can I confront or encourage to help you out?”
This may be the most awkward question you ask, but it can be the most therapeutic. Your senior pastor has a network of relationships that are similar to, yet larger than, yours. You can help pour water on flames that need to be put out and gasoline on the fires that need to grow. Be willing to confront a critic or help spur on the most recent volunteer.
This is obviously not a comprehensive list, but maybe it gets you started. It also helps you better live out Hebrews 13:7: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
What are some questions you’ve identified that we all need to be asking?