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How To Lead Your Pastor

Chris Wesley —  January 31, 2013 — 13 Comments

I used to have heated arguments with my pastor.  They were exhausting and painful.  I remember walking into the church office after a moment of confrontation filled with resentment thinking, “If I ran this church it would be better because I would…”  All that mindset did was drain me.  Many times the reason pastors and youth pastors clash is because of a disagreement on decisions, strategies or leadership.

While you may never want to be a pastor you might have some thought and ideas on how it should be done.  Before you get ready to go off and plant your own church, consider that maybe you need to do a better job of leading up.  If you ever want your pastor to listen to your ideas and you want to LEAD UP you need to make sure you:

  • Offer Encouragement: Your pastor takes on much of the criticism and burden that leading a church will bring.  It’ll be easy for him to feel defeated and hopeless, you need to be a cheerleader.  Not only will this give him confidence; but, it will help him see that you are loyal to his leadership.  Loyalty is often rewarded.
  • Practice Obedience:  As the leader your pastor needs to make decisions.  Some you’ll agree with and others not so much.  If you disobey your pastor and constantly undermine his decisions you are showing a lack of trust and signs of arrogance. Showing obedience to your pastor is also a sign of trust in God.  After all your pastor is in the position he is in because of God.  While he might not always have it right, your obedience will help you build clout so that you can guide him in the right direction.
  • Praise Publicly Confront Privately: Never criticize your pastor publicly.  When you speak about your pastor in the open you shape people’s perspectives.  You will not only hurt his image, but the churches and even yours.  If you have a problem with a decision he’s made or something he’s done confront him privately.  Set up a meeting where you can chat one on one, so that he’s not embarrassed in front of others.
  • Continually Communicate: If you ever want to influence up you need to consistently communicate with your pastor.  That means being honest with your struggles and letting him know your needs.  It also requires that you ask your pastor, “How can I serve you?”  What you are really saying to him is, “How can I help you out?”  This builds a healthy relationship so that when you are in trouble or in need you have an ally.

The relationship you have with your pastor is going to depend on your personalities.  Even if you are coming from completely different ends of the earth, you can influence him by earning his respect, trust and loyalty.  You won’t get your way in ministry if you are knocking him down, disobeying his decisions and making him out to be a bad guy.  Lead up by showing him you are worth following.

How do you strengthen the relationship you have with your pastor?

Chris Wesley

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13 responses to How To Lead Your Pastor

  1. Preach.

    When I started at my church I constantly felt like I was in trouble whenever I was called into the pastor’s office. Like going to the principal in elementary school! I was young(er) and he had been past prong long than I had been alive. It was intimidating.

    Doing these things helped my relationship with him grow exponentially. Looking back I realize all those times he was calling me in to talk he was mentoring me (imagine that!). He’s had 42+ years of ministry experience and knows a lot about ministering to people. Youth included!

    One thing I would add to your list is a respect for the pastor’s off e. not the physical room but for his calling and leadership. Acknowledging that he’s the boss, even and especially when you disagree on something.

    Great article!

    • Ronald,

      Thanks for sharing those “call to the principal’s office” feelings. i think that is something we all can relate to. I think it’s a real challenge for some of us to balance the relationship of pastor and employer. I like your addition to the list. I think it’s important to understand the calling that our pastor’s have.

  2. This is great advice. I’ve been reading “The 360 Degree Leader” by John Maxwell (one of those books I think every youth leader should read, or at least skim). I took some of Maxwell’s thoughts and started proactively meeting with my pastor (who doesn’t initiate meetings) asking to meet for 20-30 minutes every other week or so. I ask him 1) how can I support what you’re doing? 2) how can I pray for you? We usually end up talking strategy and big picture thinking for an hour or so. It’s a great way to get on the same page. I get to see him share his heart for the church and oftentimes it’s the same thing as my heart, even if we approach it from two different angles.

    • Nick,

      Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve heard John Maxwell refer to it in interviews. I think there is a lot of wisdom in those points. I think it’s awesome when we can listen to what is on the hearts of our pastor. It gives us insight into what they are facing.

  3. In previous churches one of the big areas of tension always came out of a lack of friendship between the staff. We were coworkers and little else. One of the great things that my current church spends time with is building friendships among the team. One thing that has been great has been the weekly lunches where we place a no work talk rule.

    It’s easier to follow and take advise from someone whom you know on a very personal level.

  4. Just for the record, we never really fought.
    - Chris’ Pastor

  5. good stuff here – thanks for your words and wisdom!
    Cory

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