As youth leaders, we are called to serve primarily, not to lead. Though I wasn’t wild about Leonard Sweet’s book I Am a Follower, I did agree with him that the Bible says a whole lot more about following and serving than it does about leading. Being a leader means serving and as youth leaders, we should serve our pastors above all.
I know that there are lots of youth leaders and youth pastors who have an issue with their pastor. It saddens me to see ‘disagreement with pastor’ pop up as a search term for finding my site so regularly. And I’m not saying youth leaders are always at fault here, nor are the pastors. It’s just a sad reality that youth leaders and pastors don’t always work well together for whatever reason.
I also happen to be convinced that as youth leaders, we need to do whatever we can to prevent conflict. The primary way we can do that is by making every effort to serve our pastor and to serve him (or her) well. Here’s a few ways in which you as youth leader can serve your pastor in a way that prevents conflicts and issues from popping up:
You need to pray for your pastor daily in a deep, heartfelt, personal way. Don’t just throw a quick ‘God bless pastor so-and-so’ at the Almighty, but really intercede for your pastor daily. I’m betting it would mean a lot to your pastor if you would regularly ask for specific prayer requests.
But that’s not even the main reason to do it, because then it would be for scoring points. You need to pray for your pastor so you heart stays soft and loving. Your prayer needs to change you more than it needs to change your pastor.
Pastors need and want information more than anything, but they don’t have the time to come and get it, or to weed out the stuff they don’t need to know. A lot of the conflicts between pastors and youth leaders have to do with lack of information or miscommunication. If you want to serve your pastor, then make sure to actively communicate on important youth ministry matters.
Don’t just send the pastor cc’s of tons of emails, but combine the highlights into one weekly email or print out if that works better. Don’t include stuff that’s irrelevant, show that you know what’s important. If you don’t know what’s important, simply ask your pastor what he or she wants to know and what not. In my experience they’ll want to know anything that either affects their job or (big parts of) the church in general.
Submission is a very unpopular word, but it’s exactly what you need to do if you want to serve your pastor. It’s not about blind obedience without ever daring to speak up. It’s about realizing your place and the position of youth ministry within the church. Remember that your ministry is part of a bigger whole called the church and that you need to adapt and submit to what’s important and good for the church as a whole.
I know this is not easy, especially in churches where youth ministry seems to be at the very bottom of everyone’s list of important things. But you can advocate for your youth ministry in a loving, respectful, yet passionate way and still submit to the pastor’s authority when it comes down to it.
Your pastor deserves your respect. That means no gossiping behind his back, no jokes about him within the youth ministry, no criticism on him in your youth leader meetings. Be loyal and honest and open.
I think you should also try very hard not to publicly disagree with him. If you have a problem with something the pastor did or said, discuss it privately.
Do you agree with me on the importance of serving your pastor? What other ways can you think of to serve your pastor as a youth leader?