Priority #3 – A strong & supportive relationship with their lead pastor & staff.
A few days ago I was on the phone with one of the great young children’s ministry leaders that I coach. He asked me if I felt it was appropriate for him to approach his senior pastor – maybe invite him to lunch – to share his heart for children’s ministry while also inviting his pastor to help him align the ministry more closely with the vision of the church. I gave him an emphatic “YES!! Do it!!”
There is little you can do that is more valuable to you as a leader & your ministry as cultivating strong relationships with senior leadership & other staff at your church. Now I recognize that sometimes there are challenges you face when trying to cultivate this relationship, and perhaps we’ll address that in another post. But here are just a few ideas on how to be proactive in developing a strong & supportive relationship with your lead pastor (and other staff, too!):
- Recognize the demands that are placed on senior leadership in the church. Research shows that it is one of the most stressful jobs in America! I’ve referred to this article by Eugene Cho, called “Death By Ministry,” which highlights the condition of many pastors. Senior leadership at your church carry burdens you know nothing about – yet too often we become upset at their seeming lack of engagement with what’s happening in our area. Give him a break & work within his work context rather than yours.
- Seek to understand the vision he is trying to lead to in the church. Do what my young friend is planning on doing & reach out to your pastor to ask him to share & clarify the vision. More often than not this will surprise & delight them. Beyond that, listen to his communication – from the pulpit, to staff, in other areas…intentionally listen for the vision he is casting. And see Priority #4 below.
- Be proactive in encouraging & supporting senior leadership & other staff. Why? Because they are your fellow servants in Christ. Isn’t that enough? Though we may not always fully agree with them, or feel they are giving as much as they should to our efforts, we must still always support. It is never appropriate to undermine the work of senior leadership (or other staff) in the church. Pray for them (ask them what they would like you to be praying for). Encourage them with your words. Speak well of them to others. You get the idea.
- Share your heart & vision for your ministry. One of the best ways I found to do this was to send brief, weekly updates of what’s happening in children’s ministry. Share stories of wins. Keep it positive. Show them how God is moving. Thank them for their support. You’d be surprised how far this can go.
Priority #4 – Aligning ministry vision with the overall vision of the church.
Try this little exercise:
- Hold your thumb up and, with both eyes open, align it with something at least 10-15 feet away (a door knob, exit sign, etc.).
- Keeping your thumb in place, close your right eye – notice what happens to the alignment of your thumb & object.
- Open both eyes again.
- Now, keeping your thumb in place, close your left eye – notice what happens to the alignment of your thumb & object.
- For most of us, looking at the object with both eyes open allows us to see both our thumb and the object relatively easily. When we close our left eye, our thumb remains aligned with the object but blocks it, not allowing us to see the object clearly; but when we close our right eye, our thumb “jumps” to the right of the object, giving us 2 objects to look at – neither of which we can fully focus on. (This is because our right eye is dominant for most of us. It may be the opposite for you, or it may not work at all – as with any illustration, it doesn’t always apply perfectly).
This little illustration is an example of how our vision for ministry ought to work. The “object” is the end vision of our church. When we align our vision (our thumb) but keep both eyes open, we can see both clearly & pursue our vision within the context of the greater vision. Closing either eye represents allowing our vision to either block or mis-align with the overall vision of the church – neither is acceptable, nor will either be a viable long-term growth strategy.