Not the Senior Pastor?

by myvanewchurch on July 15, 2010

So you’re not the senior pastor.  Is that a problem for you?  I’ve heard a lot of junior staff members and support staff complain about their senior pastor.  I’ve complained about my senior pastor in the past.  I’m not sure if he complained as much about me as I did about him.  He probably had more reason than I to complain, but I don’t know that he did.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the problem . . . my problem.  Let’s take a look at it because I believe it’s not uncommon to many ministers and support staff.

The place to begin is your  call.  Have you ever wondered why some of your colleagues in other churches are in ministry at all?  Often, there is an expectation that everyone serving as God’s called will act with consideration, love and altruistic motives all the time.  Then, once they’ve completed seminary and are on a church staff, they learn that those they work with are human and experience frustrations and anger, and may have differing perspectives and opinions.  There may be conflicts.  Additionally, some church members may be demanding and critical.

If you’re going to be a minster, you’d better be sure of your calling.  While it is tremendously rewarding, if you’re not sure of your calling, the trials you face will test you beyond your limits.

So what is it like to have a “less important” position on the church staff?  To begin with, lets agree that there is no less important staff position in ministry.  Every position is important in God’s calling.  Although not always recognized as valuable, it clearly becomes important when there is a problem and people need help or when it’s time for worship.

Here are five aspects of successful ministry to consider:

An easy job . . . don’t fool yourself! Because you’re not the senior pastor doesn’t mean the position involves less work.  Anyone looking for an easy job needs to look somewhere other than in church!  Being invested in ministry sometimes means being inconvenienced.  What those invested in their calling know is that the inconvenience and energy invested is usually rewarding and satisfying.

Being supportive of the senior pastor. Even when you disagree?  Even when what he’s asking (maybe demanding?) that you must do something that’s not in your job description, or it’s just an unpleasant task, or you don’t agree with it because it doesn’t make sense?  What might you have to deal with in you to work in a position other than the senior pastor?  Here are two significant factors to keep in mind so you can develop a supportive attitude:

  • Pride/ego — Don’t let your ego become a battleground with any staff member.  Especially the “CEO” of the church, the senior pastor.  When pride generates conflicts, God’s purpose isn’t accomplished by the combat that results.  Develop healthy ways to resolve differences and keep in mind that the senior pastor’s job description includes supervision of the rest of the staff.  This includes “other assignments as designated by the pastor,” a phrase found in just about every staff job description.
  • Consider what he has to cope with — Because the congregation assumes that the senior pastor is the person where the buck stops, that position carries a lot of weight.    The responsibility can be wearying.  Though you may not agree with decisions made about your tasks, carrying them out to the best of your ability will earn the senior pastor’s respect.

Are you committed to your calling? – Even the apostles questioned some of Jesus’ decisions, and in the long run, they still did as he directed, one obvious exception notwithstanding.  That exception resulted in such inner turmoil that the disobedient one took his own life.  Most who disagree with their pastor become bitter and filled with resentment.  Even conflicts/competitions with other staff members usually result in gnawing rancor.  So, can you be committed to your call, even when you disagree with others on your staff?  Can you make the best of a situation that is not ideal?  Since no church is ideal, be committed to the situation in which God has called you to serve.  A close friend once pointed out to me that every minister needs to Grow Where You Are Planted.

Part of the team — Remind yourself, loud and often, that you’re part of a team.  If the church staff, from senior pastor to the support staff, would remind themselves that they are a team, and there is no team where one player can win and the team lose.  Any time there is conflict and competition on the team, the entire team loses.  Cheer each other on and celebrate the successes of each individual as a success for the whole team.

Do you love Jesus enough to love His people? — Loving His people means you do the right thing (from God’s point of view) whether you feel like it or not.  If there’s a conflict within the staff, His people are the big losers.  Be the example they need by putting aside differences and making sure there is ministry at all times.

Do you, or your church staff, need help finding harmony in ministering to God’s people?  Call or e-mail to arrange a consultation regarding problem resolution or for coaching. — 225-773-8883

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