"Most associate pastors do not understand the full scope of issues that the Sr. Pastor has to deal with. They are usually singular focused on their particular ministry (as they should be) and give their primary attention to their area of ministry"
Q: As a Sr. Pastor, what do you wish Associate Pastors would know and understand?
A:Most associate pastors do not understand the full scope of issues that the Sr. Pastor has to deal with. They are usually singular focused on their particular ministry (as they should be) and give their primary attention to their area of ministry. It's important for them to realize that the Sr. Pastor has the responsibility of making all the pieces of the puzzle (i.e. all the ministries) fit and blend together.
Q: How can an Associate Pastor best show his/her support for the Sr. Pastor?
A: By doing their job well and not pushing the limits. Many staff members are always pushing the limits which puts unneeded pressure on the Sr. Pastor and creates tension among the staff. By demonstrating support of the leadership of the senior pastor among the congregation.
Pastoral ministry can be very lonely for both senior pastors and associates. This is especially true when confronting conflict and criticism in the church. If there is one thing a senior pastor needs from an associate is the confidence in the loyalty of his associates, especially when the associate is approached by people in the church who are critical of the senior pastor. Just as I believe an associate needs to have confidence that the senior pastor will have his/her back when being criticized, so also does the senior pastor need it from his/her associates.
Q: What are the top three things a Sr. Pastor needs in an associate?
A:1 Loyalty, 2) Loyalty, 3) Loyalty! If you cannot be on board and honestly in support of the Sr. Pastor, then look for another place to go serve. Never criticize orcast doubt on the support or leadership of the Sr. Pastor.
A2:1. To be a true servant/leader, with a genuine Christ-like spirit of love for God and the people being served.
2. To be creatively competent in the whole work of ministry theologically, biblically, and practically.
3. To be self-motivated and enthusiastic about the work of ministry, willing to sacrificially give of themselves.
Q: Communication is difficult in any working environment. What could the Associate Pastor do that would make him/her heard when it comes to obtaining the ear of the boss?
A1: It is not an issue of being heard more loudly. It is an issue of keeping the Sr. Pastor informed of what is going on on a regular basis. No surprises!
This is an area where both the associate and the senior pastor bear a shared responsibility. An associate who wants to be heard must be sure to do his/her part to create an atmosphere of trust with the senior pastor. The more trust there is, the easier it is to hear and be heard.
As a senior pastor, I really do appreciate it when the associate asks for a specific time to meet with the senior pastor (or has a time regularly scheduled) for communication. I find it hard to be ready to really listen when communication comes in the form of an interruption rather than an intentionally planned event.
Are you called to the role of Associate Pastor? Learn what the Sr. Pastor needs from you. Make it your priority to serve him/her and to ease his load whenever possible.
What sorts of things have you done to ensure that you're serving your role to the best of your ability? What do you do to support the overall vision of the Sr. Pastor and not just your particular ministry area?
*Special thanks to the two Pastors who participated in this interview.
Pastors Gary Cable and Phil Rogers (my former boss of 16 years) Two men greatly respected and admired for the lives of integrity they lead and ministries they boldly serve.