One of the biggest sources of tension in anyone’s job will be the relationship they have with their boss. It doesn’t matter that your boss is your pastor, there are going to be things that he does that will frustrate, anger, disappoint and drive you crazy, after all they are only human. But, the relationship you have with your pastor is one of the most important ones you can have as a youth minister, it not only dictates the tenure of your ministry, but the health of the overall church as well.
It would be nice to have some type of fool proof process where you are matched up with the perfect pastor; however, life happens and relationships will always face obstacles. The tendency is to give up, blame them and move on; however, that’s not always the wisest thing to do. In fact if you want a healthy relationship with your pastor it’s important to:
Serve Up – Submitting to authority is a humbling experience because it means letting go of your own thoughts and opinions. However, if you want to influence your pastor you need to show him that you are willing to follow him, even if it means you disagree. What you do is build trust, so that when a situation comes along where you strongly disagree you now have the clout to be heard.
Have Their Back – Biggest pet peeve of mine is when other ministers publicly bash their pastor. Not saying you have to like everything that your pastor does; however, if you have a problem with something he does keep it private. Yes, if it’s something immoral or illegal bring it to the proper authorities; however, when you sound off in public you not only break his trust, but the trust of others around you. Any issues you have with him, you need to bring to him. If you need accountability from others do it with a trusted group of individuals, to act as your sounding board.
Be Open – Your pastor doesn’t have to be your best friend, he doesn’t even have to be your mentor; however, if you feel like you have to keep the relationship superficial, you’ll only find yourself building resentment when he doesn’t understand your needs. There are going to be times when you need to tell him you are frustrated, tired, burned out and disappointed. You can’t expect your pastor to serve you or help you if he doesn’t know you. Build a relationship and make sure the foundation is full of trust, open communication and respect.
Communicate About The Relationship – Don’t be afraid to discuss the status of your relationship. It might seem awkward but make sure he knows that you value the trust and health of the relationship. If talking candidly about it is difficult write it up in a review, call them check-in meetings but again stress how much you value healthy and open communication between the two of you.
There will be situations where the relationship between you and him just doesn’t work. Maybe the tension is due to clashing personalities, a difference in philosophies or an unfortunate change in events. If you have to leave your church do it as peaceful and respectful as possible. You don’t want to be burning any bridges. If you find yourself in this situation be sure to consult a veteran youth worker or someone you trust to guide you through this emotional process. In the end it’s about trusting and respecting one another. As your relationship grows stronger, so will the leadership of the church.
What tips or steps would you suggest taking to improve the relationship you have with your pastor?
Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.