5 Ways to Discourage the New Associate Pastor
Our Youth Minister Search Team has received resumes from several potential candidates and is working through the selection process. It’s possible that we could have a new Associate Pastor of Youth & Children in just 2-3 months (only God knows, of course)!
Since we haven’t narrowed it down to one person yet, I thought now would be a good time to speak frankly to you about your relationship with this new member of our leadership team. We want him to have the greatest opportunity to serve the Lord faithfully in this role, right? Well, there are plenty of things we can do that will make a difference. I’ll list ten: five ways to discourage him (avoid these), and five ways to encourage him (do these).
Five ways to discourage our new Associate Pastor of Youth & Children
(DON’T do these!)
1) Remind him, “That’s not how David used to do it.” Guys, I miss David. David is who God made him to be! But the new Associate Pastor of Youth & Children isn’t going to be like David. Nor should he try. He’s going to have a different set of gifts. He’s going to have a different perspective. Encourage him to be who God made him to be, and urge him to be like Jesus.
2) Overload him with administrative tasks. Whoever the Lord sends our way is going to be uniquely gifted to preach and counsel and evangelize and lead. But if he has to spend 60-70% of his time creating sign-up lists, rearranging tables and chairs, calling around to find the best price on pizza, etc., he won’t be able to focus on the very thing we need him for. Administrative minutia is part of any ministry job, but let’s pitch in and help where we can.
3) Send him unsigned or anonymous criticism. If you have something to say, be willing to attach your name to it. For various reasons, if I get an unsigned note or anonymous feedback, I throw it away immediately (this has almost never happened to me during my time at Indian Creek).
4) Hold him to unstated, unrealistic expectations. As the team shared a few weeks ago on Family Sunday, there is more for this person to do than is possible for one man. This means that he’s not going to do everything that everyone expects him to do. Not only that, but the nature of ministry is that it takes time to accomplish anything. Both our Youth Ministry Team and our Children’s Ministry Team have talked about expectations for the next 3-5 years. Years! Let’s be patient, focus on what’s important, and pitch in where and when we can.
5) Point out how young he is (when he says or does things you don’t like). Of course, this may not apply to every candidate, but if it does, just remember young Timothy. Age is not a reason to be dismissive of someone. Thank God for young men and women who want to use the fleeting years of their youth to serve His church.
Five ways to encourage our new Associate Pastor of Youth & Children
1) Pray for him, and tell him you’re praying. If you actually pray for him, you’ll be surprised how often God reveals other ways for you to encourage him.
2) Get to know his wife and kids, for real. Pastors live in the public eye. You’ll very quickly get to know some of the facts about his wife and kids (if applicable): Age, appearance, where she grew up, what she studied in school, etc. It will feel like you know them well, even though you haven’t had the chance to spend much time with them. If possible, get to know them for real. Spend time with them face-to-face. Learn about their fears, hopes, dreams, etc. Be a true friend.
3) Offer timely, redemptive feedback. If you have children or you volunteer with kids or teens, there are going to be times when the Associate Pastor of Youth & Children rubs you the wrong way. You either need to let it go, or you need to talk to him about it soon. Don’t let it fester. When you offer feedback, be redemptive: recognize that he is a sinner saved by grace and growing in holiness, just like you. Pursue reconciliation. Be eager to forgive and assume the best. Don’t allow bitterness and evil suspicion to drive a wedge between you and a brother in Christ.
4) Offer to take ownership of a part of the ministry. Children’s Ministry and Youth Ministry impact a huge amount of people, and both require faithful teams in order function properly. He can’t do it all. If God has gifted you with experience and leadership ability, funnel that gifting into focused, committed ministry. How refreshing it is to serve alongside those who are zealously committed to serving the Lord.
5) Tell him how God is using his ministry. Say, “When you were preaching, God convicted me in _____ area of my life,” or “I love how the _______ ministry has really jelled since you started working with them.” We all wonder, “Am I making a difference?” If you see someone making a difference, tell them how!
Let’s continue to pray for whomever God is planning to send us!