Yes. You read that right: You are not the pastor.
I know you know this, but let that sink in for a moment, because I don’t think we, as youth pastors, grasp that concept very well. For example, it never fails to find multiple threads in any youth pastor group that laments how their church isn’t growing, it’s dying, or the worship service is only focused on the adults. With a comment usually followed after about how the pastor doesn’t seem to care. Yes, that sucks, but guess what? The health or future of your church isn’t your problem, that’s the pastor’s problem.
Furthermore, it’s not the pastor’s job to cater the worship service, or the entire church for that matter, around the student ministry.
I know that stung a little, but better you learn this now than five months down the road when you’re ready to pull your hair out. It’s no secret Pastors and Youth Pastors can have a volatile relationship, and the scenario described above can only fuel the fire. Other reasons could be some of us are pastors-in-waiting, or because all of our efforts can be cancelled out by a pastor who won’t lead. Either ways, the truth still remains, we are not the pastor, and we’ll have a better student ministry, and relationship with them, when we keep that in mind! So on top of loving, praying, and supporting your pastor, here are 3 tips to help you have a smoother relationship with your pastor:
Do your job.
You were called to your church to serve students, period. Yes, there will be other roles we will have to fulfill at our churches, but our number one job is student ministry. It’s easy to get lost in all the other roles sometimes, and we may think we’re doing great, but if you let your student ministry go, expect for you and your pastor to cross paths. His job is to keep you accountable for your work, and if other duties are taking you away from main role, speak up, and both of you figure out a way to ease your workload.
Keep the bigger picture in mind.
Your pastor is a major advocate for your ministry, but he’s also the major advocate for the children’s, men’s, women’s, singles, small group, education, senior adults, etc., ministry. When you make a decision you only have to consider what affects a small population of the church, however, when your Pastor makes a decision he has to consider everybody. What may sound like the best idea ever to you, may be the worst idea for the whole church, and your pastor telling you no could be the one thing keeping you from losing your position. Your Pastor’s job is to consider everyone, so keep that in mind the next time things don’t go your way.
Always remind the church he is the Pastor.
Lets be honest, we’re youth pastors and we’re called to be sociable. That’s great, but sometimes being sociable can work against us, especially when the adults and students we serve start to prefer us over our Pastors. When the adults and students we serve start to come to us about decisions the pastor should be making, or when they start complaining about him, gently remind them about his position and authority in the church. Moreover, anytime you preach, take a moment to share about something you love about him. Your church needs to know where your loyalties are, because just like there are people who are gunning for you, there are people who are gunning for him as well. Don’t get caught in the crossfires.
In the end, I truly believe that the reason youth pastors have so many problems with their pastors is because they overstep their boundaries. We take on problems that aren’t ours in the first place, and make decisions we should never be making. Let your Pastor be the Pastor, and you be the Youth Pastor. Understand your role and purpose within the church context, and do it well. And when that happens, I promise you will gain the trust, confidence, grace, and support you need to have a healthy relationship with your Pastor.
Why do you think Pastors and Youth Pastors have rocky relationships?
If you are a veteran Youth Pastor, what advice would you give to rookies so they can have a healthy relationship with their Pastor?