Top 10 Ways to Turn Your Pastor into the Biggest Advocate of Student Ministry: The truth is that very few senior pastors are passionate about student ministry. If they were, they would be student ministry pastors. God has given them a heart and calling to shepherd the entire church, in which student ministry is only a part. If you want them to become a big fan and advocate for student ministry, then it begins with having them become a big fan of you. Here are 10 practical ways to build heart strands with your pastor and helps them become a fan of you and student ministry.
9) Don't Be A Liability:
Student ministry is a complicated job with many moving parts. Even the most veteran youth workers among us are bound to make mistakes and create messes that are in desperate need of cleaning up. Making messes is par for the course. But when we don't clean them up and those messes move up the chain of command, we are bound to be in some big trouble. If you want to make your pastor a big fan of you and student ministry then don't be a liability.
Understand The Two Unstated Goals:
As I have done this job for over 20 years and have worked for several pastors and supervisors, I have realized that outside of the job description there are actually two unstated goals that are of supreme importance. It is too bad that they are unstated, but they are real, and cannot be taken lightly.
1) Your number one unstated goal is to make your pastor and the church, in general, look good. Who you are and the job you do is a direct reflection on your pastor and their ministry. When you do a good job, when you defer to your supervisor, when you speak well of the church, goodwill flows like waterfalls in spring. The second goal is simply the inverse.
2) Your number two unstated goal is to make your pastor and the church not look bad. This may seem like the same as above, but it is not. Building goodwill takes time, effort, and consistency. Doing ministry well day in and day out builds your trust and credibility. But one dumb mistake, one black eye to your pastor or to the church and it is all over. Nobody likes to look bad, and I have found lead pastors to be at the top of this list. Almost every lead pastor I know lives with this low-level fear that the youth worker they hired has the potential to torpedo them and the church. When we remove the worry of being a liability, we allow space for them to begin to trust, love us, and advocate for us.
So, how do you not be a liability? Here are two simple solutions.
1) Clean up after yourself. You will make mistakes, you will break things, and you will upset people. That is the cold hard truth. But to not be a liability, you simply need to fix it. When you make a mistake, own it as quickly as possible and get ahead of it and put in the hard work to fix it. Do not let angry people get to your pastor and complain about the poor job you are doing. If there are grievances about you and your ministry out there, you should be working double time to win them over, solve the problem, and mend the broken bridge. It is on you and you alone to make it right. Everyone else in the church as the luxury to be pissed and talk trash. But you do not. If you expect others to stand up for you and defend you, then you will quickly be like the cheese and stand alone. If you don't want to be a liability, clean up your messes, own your garbage, and fix whatever the problem is.
2) Don't let your pastor be surprised by your screw ups. When you do screw up and can't fix it, you better be the first one in your pastor's office asking for help and maybe even forgiveness. The truth is that your pastor wants you to succeed, they want you to do well. And when they are taken by surprised it crushes them. Unhealthy pastors will throw you under the bus, and healthy ones will protect you but die inside to you a little bit. But when you bring it to them first, they have an opportunity to help, to mentor, to protect. Believe it or not, pastors became pastors because they love people and want to help them grow and mature, and when you allow them to do that for you, they become that much more invested in you and your success.
Hiding messes always leave mold, decay, and death. Bringing them to the light allows for freedom and growth. May we live into our unstated goals and do ministry in a way that elevates our leaders and the church and not give them any reason to think of us as liabilities.