Can An Associate Minister Actually Be Good Enough For His Pastor?

by kensneed2 on April 25, 2011

– I actually heard a seminary president tell a room full of pastors that when they go on vacation, their staff takes a vacation.

– It’s not terribly unusual to hear a senior pastor say that he has a staff member he doesn’t believe is doing what he’s paid to do.

– Some pastors don’t believe the buck stops with them. It’s always someone else’s fault.

Aren’t those disappointing views of the work performed by the associate pastors in a church?

So, . . . can an associate minister actually be good enough to get the approval of his or her senior pastor?

At the time of the seminary president’s comment, I was a youth minister who’d served over twelve years for the church I was involved with at that time. I’d actually had a productive ministry with the pastor I’d been working with. I worked long, hard hours doing a lot more than just playing games or watching movies with the kids. So, I was particularly offended by that remark. And the other youth ministers I fellowshipped with in town were also hard workers. I felt defensive, not just for me, but for all youth ministers. And the other associate ministers I worked with in that church invested long, hard hours in their ministries. But pastors before and after that church weren’t always appreciative of my efforts, nor did they spend much time learning what I was doing at the time.

Before, during and since that time, I’ve heard pastors complain that one or another (or all) of their staff weren’t doing enough of what they were supposed to do.

Associates can practice ways that give their senior pastor, and others, reasons to appreciate their efforts.

Here are 7 practices associates will find helpful to implement:

  • Check in with the pastor at least once a day. Let the senior pastor as well as any supervising ministers, hear a little about at least one of your plans for the day. For example, the music minister who smiles, says “hello” and lets the senior pastor know that he’ll be busy reviewing music to prepare for the upcoming special occasion (e.g., Christmas or Easter) is letting the minister know how he’s using his time.
  • Take an interest in what other staff ministers are doing. Not to tell them what to do, but to be able to speak intelligently in staff meetings. Perhaps, you can add to their plans with support from your area of work. Offering to assist in planning meetings, whether it works out or not, demonstrates interest, availability and support. This show of cooperation is appreciated and lets the senior pastor know of your good intentions.
  • Written outlines of plans for events and activities placed on the pastor’s desk or e-mailed to all give written documentation of your intentions. Adding updates of general changes or processes builds a record that you’ve provided the information to others.
  • Invite the ministering staff to attend your activities and  participate in as many as possible. Don’t fly solo in your ministry. It’s a team effort, and including the senior pastor helps him to see what your intentions are and the efforts you are investing.
  • Initiate time with your lead pastor. Inviting him to lunch, playing a round of golf, going to a sporting event, movie or other activity away from church so he can get to know you is to your advantage. Getting to know him will also help you know how you can best fit into his style of ministry.
  • Ask for input. Early in your planning for some events, provide information about your initial plans and ask for input. Don’t bog him down with conferences for every event. You’re being paid to do a job, so do it. Taking advantage of staff meetings to get input is the purpose of this time. Use it to your advantage!
  • Allow your pastor to be your pastor. He’s your pastor in the relationship you have to him as a staff member. When you have a need, be honest with him and ask for his help as your pastor.

These suggestions don’t guarantee that you’ll be your senior pastor’s star staff member. On the other hand, not making a sincere attempt to approach the team effort by doing these tactics will make your ministry more difficult.

Think about this: What can you do to improve the appreciation of your senior pastor?

I’d like to hear your comments about ways you earn the respect and appreciation of your senior pastor. Leave a comment on this web site. I’d appreciate ideas to address in future articles.

The first 5 ministers to leave a comment, including your phone number and e-mail address will win a thirty minute coaching consult about your ministry!

You can call me at 225-773-8883 or e-mail me through his web page at any time you’d like information about beginning a coaching relationship.

Previous post:

Next post: