5 Simple Ways to Gain Respect from Your Church Leaders

youth pastor sr pastor tension

Having been a youth minister for well over a decade now, I think I have heard all of the ridiculous statements and stereotypes about youth ministers. We are lazy, disorganized, and never take anything seriously. We only work on Sundays. All we do is play games and order pizza. And my personal favorite: when we “grow up,” we might “get our own church.”

While I’m not certain where these stereotypes originated, the crop of youth ministers I interact with regularly just don’t fit that mold. Almost every youth minister I connect with regularly is working hard, giving and sacrificing time, energy, and resources, and thoroughly thinking through ways to improve the ministry God has entrusted them with.

Despite this trend, we constantly see youth ministers in the YouthMin Facebook group that are struggling to gain the respect of church leaders. So we created a list of some simple, fool-proof ways to gain respect from your church leaders. These won’t solve every problem, but they will till the soil so respect and admiration can grow.

1.  Work hard
One of the easiest ways to communicate your passion for youth ministry is to be a workhorse. Show up early, be prepared, go the extra mile, be available, and churn out great content. If people can’t find you during office hours, you are chronically unprepared, and regularly on the golf course, someone WILL question your work ethic. One of the most respected players in any locker room is the guy who shows up first and leaves last. Be that guy!

2.  Communicate…a lot
Leaders generally don’t like to be surprised, especially by an angry parent or concerned member. The best way to endear yourself to your leaders is to keep them informed. When I respond to a parent, I often carbon copy my ministry elder or senior minister. When I have a confrontation at church or an issue arises, I email my elders. When I taught on sex, love, and romance last week, I told the parents ahead of time and made sure to have a couple elders in the room as I spoke. Communication breeds trust.

3.  Be a great teammate
The hallmarks of a great teammate are loyalty, communication, respect, honesty, trust, and commitment. By being a great teammate to your fellow staff members and elders, you will receive respect in return. NEVER put down an elder or staff member to a person in your church. NEVER lie or stretch the truth to your teammates. Hold the nitty gritty details of meetings in the strictest confidence. Be loyal to a fault.

4.  Be consistent
Consistency breeds trust. When you are consistent in your dealings with people, how you plan and execute events, and the ways you communicate, trust will naturally follow. On our staff at Hazelwood, we have a Senior Minister who has led for 35 years. Other staff members have been in their positions for 14 years, 13 years, and 7 years. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to work in an environment where there is so much consistency. We know how our teammates operate, how we respond to criticism, and we know that loyalty is the norm. Consistency pays huge dividends, so make it a priority.

5.  Stick around for a long time
There are so many benefits of longevity that I can’t enumerate all of them here, but trust, respect, and added responsibility are certainly among them. When I came to Hazelwood as a 22-year old youth minister fresh out of college, parents and leaders questioned me a lot…and I don’t blame them. I was young, inexperienced, and learning on the fly. Having been here for 13+ years now, I am often given the benefit of the doubt instead of a barrage of questions. Our staff, elders, parents, and students know I’m here to stay, and that leads to a lot of trust.

As I stated above, this list won’t save you from every difficult situation or tough conversation, but you might be surprised how far they will take you when it comes to gaining the respect of your leaders. What would you add to the list?

Wacky Words – Group Game

If you’re like me, you are always looking for a great up-front game that is flexible for any group size, easy to use and explain, and fun for everyone.  Sometimes, games like that are hard to come by.  So, we decided to create our own one evening, and Wacky Words was born.

Wacky Words is a crazy game focusing on the definitions of some of the English language’s craziest words, like Gardyloo, Widdershins, Bumfuzzled, and Gubbins.  In our group, we divided the students into teams, and gave them all a piece of paper and a marker.  We then show the slide of the crazy words and they try to come up with what they think the definition actually is for that word.  Once they have done their best to come up with definitions, you can go through the slides and show the definitions.  In the end, the team with the most correct answers wins.

Variations include doing this as a one-on-one sort of up-front game, having sections of the room helping “their” participant.  Or, you could even do it like Balderdash, where groups have to turn in their definition and gain points for every group that picks theirs.

You can purchase “Wacky Words” in the YouthMin Resources store HERE.

Hang In There!

Over the past few weeks, our YouthMin.org Facebook group has been littered with discouraged and hurting Youth Ministers.  Whether dealing with criticism, divorce, unrealistic expectations, or other sources of discouragement, many of our comrades are struggling to navigate these difficulties.  Questions of identity, purpose, calling, and even value seem to be waging war against many of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  In addition, many are asking the question, “Do I even want to be in Youth Ministry anymore?”

Maybe you’re reading this article right now because you are discouraged, burnt out, tired, or contemplating leaving the ministry or your church.  While I know every context is different, and that sometimes God calls us to different places and new seasons, I want to encourage you to HANG IN THERE!

Sure, ministry is hard.  Sure, people are critical.  Sure, staff conflict can eat away at you every day.  But HANG IN THERE!  To encourage you to stick with it, here are some reasons I think you should HANG IN THERE!

HANG IN THERE because:

  1. You believed at one point that God called you to this, and at your core, you still do.
  2. Watching students come to love Jesus is the greatest thing IN THE WORLD!
  3. The church, while imperfect, is still the Bride of Christ and the vessel He has chosen for changing the world.
  4. This season will pass.  We all go through difficult stretches, but there is a better season coming!
  5. You know these students and these parents – and you can help them grow in Christ.
  6. God has never failed anyone in the past – he’s not going to start today with you.  He’s with you!
  7. You are the only You there is – you have unique gifts that can shape and mold people where you are.
  8. God is the One who changes lives, not you!  Trust in Him and rely on His power to get you through.
  9. God called you here and He can still use you here!
  10. There are TONS of benefits with longevity!  Press on – the good stuff is coming!
  11. Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

So, HANG IN THERE!

Hang In There!

Over the past few weeks, our YouthMin.org Facebook group has been littered with discouraged and hurting Youth Ministers.  Whether dealing with criticism, divorce, unrealistic expectations, or other sources of discouragement, many of our comrades are struggling to navigate these difficulties.  Questions of identity, purpose, calling, and even value seem to be waging war against many of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  In addition, many are asking the question, “Do I even want to be in Youth Ministry anymore?”

Maybe you’re reading this article right now because you are discouraged, burnt out, tired, or contemplating leaving the ministry or your church.  While I know every context is different, and that sometimes God calls us to different places and new seasons, I want to encourage you to HANG IN THERE!

Sure, ministry is hard.  Sure, people are critical.  Sure, staff conflict can eat away at you every day.  But HANG IN THERE!  To encourage you to stick with it, here are some reasons I think you should HANG IN THERE!

HANG IN THERE because:

  1. You believed at one point that God called you to this, and at your core, you still do.
  2. Watching students come to love Jesus is the greatest thing IN THE WORLD!
  3. The church, while imperfect, is still the Bride of Christ and the vessel He has chosen for changing the world.
  4. This season will pass.  We all go through difficult stretches, but there is a better season coming!
  5. You know these students and these parents – and you can help them grow in Christ.
  6. God has never failed anyone in the past – he’s not going to start today with you.  He’s with you!
  7. You are the only You there is – you have unique gifts that can shape and mold people where you are.
  8. God is the One who changes lives, not you!  Trust in Him and rely on His power to get you through.
  9. God called you here and He can still use you here!
  10. There are TONS of benefits with longevity!  Press on – the good stuff is coming!
  11. Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

So, HANG IN THERE!

Poll Question 5: How Important is it to Network with Other Youth Ministers?

If your town is anything like mine, your church isn’t the only one nearby.  And more than likely, there are other Youth Ministers within 50 miles of you.  Do you connect with them?  Work with them on camps, retreats, ministry events, and outreach nights?  We at YouthMin want to know!

In my own region, we have a lot of opportunities to network and work together with other Youth Ministers.  Countywide youth ministry lunches, camps, statewide conventions like Jr. High Journey, and our Indianapolis Youth Minister lunches provide great opportunities to meet, pray with, and team up with other Youth Ministers.  We’d love to hear how you feel about this aspect of ministry.  We’d also love to hear your REASONING in the comments.  Why did you answer the way you did?  Looking forward to hearing your voice!

Keep being extraordinary!

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