Relationships between youth pastors and senior pastors are notorious. I’ve been blessed to work with some great senior pastors who supported me in every way, but I’ve also experienced the opposite.
Still, as youth pastors we are called to honor our senior pastors. Honoring them blesses them and us and through that, we honor Jesus.
Here are 20 ways to honor your senior pastor in a practical way (by the way: I’ll use the male pronoun here, but of course a senior pastor can be a woman as well!):
- Find some students willing to babysit his kids so he can take his spouse out for a date night.
- Give specific positive feedback after a great sermon, or something else the pastor did that helped you.
- Organize an ‘encourage the pastor activity’ with your students where they write notes, make a drawing, or do anything else you can give to him as an encouragement.
- Pray for him at every youth ministry meeting. Include the board of elders as well while you’re at it.
- Keep your pastor in the loop about your youth ministry by sending a ‘summarizing email’ with the highlights every week. that way he knows what’s happening without being cc’d on every email you send.
- Inform him immediately if anything out of the ordinary happens that might get back to him. Think of conflicts, mistakes, financial issues, dumb decisions, morally questionably stuff, etc. He’d much rather hear this from you than from someone else!
- Have his back. Support his decisions publicly and defend him against critics.
- Buy him a thoughtful gift every now and then. It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive. A book, a gift card, a coffee mug, anything goes.
- Be interested. Ask how he is doing regularly and listen to clues for what’s happening in his life. Follow up when you know something is going on.
- Keep his confidence by not sharing what he tells you with anyone. Gossiping behind the pastor’s back is a huge blow to your relationship.
- If you have anything critical to discuss with him, do it privately. Never, ever disagree with him in public.
- Invite your pastor to a youth ministry event where you know he’ll do well. Allow him to shine.
- Invite him for a casual event with you and your family, like a barbecue or a picnic. Eating together is always a good icebreaker and getting to know each other in a casual setting can work wonders for your relationship.
- Do something together you know your pastor enjoys and that helps him relax. Go to a game, play a game of soccer, go fishing or hiking.
- Be ready to serve outside your direct job description. Of course this doesn’t mean you should do anything and everything all the time, but when you see your pastor has a need, fill it. Be a ‘yes person’.
- Bring his favorite snacks to a staff meeting.
- Do something for him you know he dislikes, like mowing his lawn, washing the church van, custodial stuff in the church. Serve well.
- Support his spouse, if he has one. Show the pastor’s family you appreciate their sacrifices for the good of the church.
- Ask ‘why’. Stephen Covey’s advice to ‘seek to understand before being understood’ holds true for a youth pastor – pastor relationship as well. Make an effort to truly understand your pastors decisions, motives, and needs. Ask why before rushing to judgment.
- Do your job well. If you are an asset to the church and to him, that’s the biggest way to serve him and Jesus. Not in that order by the way.