In youth ministry, it is easy to become laser-focused on our students, families, and volunteers’ needs. We want our senior leadership to value and support what we do, but often we neglect to prioritize their needs. It’s easy to rationalize that there are not enough hours in the day for youth ministry, much less anything else, but my experience has taught me that when I honor the needs of my senior pastor, the rest of my ministry goes more smoothly. Here’s some tips on how to do that:
- Their needs become a priority
Hopefully, we all start the day with a well-intentioned plan. We have goals, tasks, visits, meetings, and errands that can quickly flood our schedule. However, if your senior pastor asks you to do something, rearrange your day where that task can go to the top of the list. We are trying to set the agenda for one area of the church, they have to think of every cog and wheel that makes the entire machine function. If he needs you to meet, do a hospital visit, edit a video, make a phone call… whatever, either make that happen immediately or at the very least communicate how and when that item is going to get accomplished today. Be someone that your senior pastor sees as a relief, not a burden.
- Communication is everything
My senior pastor and I operate under a “no surprises” policy. That means he never wants to be caught off guard in a situation without all of the information. Each church staff must decide what is their ‘need to know’ information. In our context, I inform him of confrontations, family drama that may hit his desk, or any pertinent youth ministry information. If a parent asks him about the upcoming scavenger hunt I never want him to look like he doesn’t know what going on. He does’t need all the details, but enough where he looks well-informed. The benefit for me is that he has my back. If a volunteer calls him irritated, he immediately knows why decisions were made and my version of events. This is a win for everyone.
- Words matter.
This is simple and hard at the same time. Talk positive about them and their leadership. Squash others’ gossip or malicious comments. Do for them what you hope that they would do for you. If you can’t say something nice, hush.
- Find a way to bless them.
Ministry is tough. If you think your job is isolating, just imagine how isolating it is at the top. Find ways to bless your senior pastor. That could be spending a little more time with his kids at youth group or making sure they have the best small group leader. It could also mean little, thoughtful gestures. Could you pick up an extra latte at the coffee shop some mornings? [Gut check: Have you been observant enough to know what your senior pastor drinks?] Could you stash his favorite candy in your desk, so it’s available when that bad week hits?
Honoring you senior pastor directly prioritizes the needs of your Church. Don’t do it because it will impact your ministry for the better (even though it will); do it because showing honor and respect is always that right thing to do.
Allison has been in full-time ministry for 14 years. She loves the pastoral care aspect of ministry and seeks out ways to shepherd and encourage students and youth workers. Her current ministry is crib-to-college. In her free time, Allison loves reading, taking barre classes, and cooking. Connect with her on twitter: @allisoneliza