You And Your Pastor


I get along well with my pastor; however, things have not always been perfect.  I’ve disobeyed his command and he’s chewed me out in front of others.  I’ve been immature, and he’s been overbearing.  There have been times when I went home an emotional wreck because of a fight we had.  And, I know I’ve driven him up the wall with all of my shenanigans.  But, nine years later we’re going strong and I trust the man with my professional and spiritual life.

The relationship between a parish priest and his youth minister will always be a challenge.  The differences in calling, personality, weaknesses and strengths are only a few examples of what might cause tension in your relationship.  The tendency is to let the pastor do his “thing” and for you to do your youth ministry “thing”; however, all that will do is weaken the church.  To strengthen the relationship you have with your pastor you need to:

  • Serve And Lead Up: Your pastor is called to serve the church; however, you might wonder, “Who is serving him?”  The most important question you can ask your pastor on a regular basis is, “Can I do anything for you today?” This tells him that you have his back and that you are trustworthy.  The trust you build will allow your pastor to see you as someone he can go to for advice and insight.
  • Keep The Communication Flowing:  When there is a gap in the communication it can be filled with trust or suspicion.  If you do not have a trustworthy relationship then the only way to change that is by making sure your pastor is clear and aware of what you do.  That means reporting to him on good and bad things.  Giving him the heads up so that there are never any surprises.  Once he sees that you are both on the same page, chances are he’ll have your back.
  • Pray For His Well Being: Your pastor (Like you) is engaged in spiritual battle.  Praying that he focuses on God and stays safe is essential to his ministry.  Just like you need people praying for you, you need to be praying for him.
  • Honor His Character: Never bash your pastor publicly.  In fact be careful how you talk about him privately.  You might not only damage his character but paint a negative impression on others.  It’s okay to disagree and share frustrations from time to time; however, if it becomes the norm consider leaving.
  • Embrace His Humanity: Granted your pastor has a unique calling to his life; however, he is still human.  Recognize that he won’t be perfect all that time and that means showing forgiveness and mercy.  When he makes a mistake or is wrong do not hold it against him unfairly.  He like everyone else has weaknesses and temptations.

If you focus on the relationship you have with your pastor you’ll not only improve your work environment but strengthen the church.  Healthy parishes have healthy leadership.  Make the health of your organization a priority and it starts with how you work with your pastor.  It’s not easy, but the work is worth it.

What do you respect the most about your pastor?  What’s the biggest challenge you both face working together?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. Chris is passionate about serving alongside of in the trenches youth ministers. On top of full time ministry Chris mentors through the prison ministry unCuffed and writes on his blog Marathon Youth Ministry. For fun Chris hangs with his family, cooks in the kitchen and runs an obscene amount of miles.


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2 Comments

  1. Tony

    Love it. Such simple things that I have to come back to over and over again. I also love the fact that you have a relationship with your pastor that frees you to be candid about your failings and his without resorting to proverbial name calling and shoving. Open and honest acceptance. I think most yms would be afraid to even post some of the honest statements that you made at the start of your post. From the outside it seems like this comes from the last point, Embracing His Humanity. I think this is the thing that is always challenging for me. I desire my pastor to be better and holier than I am. I want him on a pedestal where I can see him acting perfectly. The thing is I hate it when people do that to me.

    If we can’t do this we get let down so hard by any failure on their part that we act out inappropriately. I watch this happen over and over again with YMs.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Tony,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I have been blessed with a healthy relationship with my pastor and it’s a part of my prayer that others do too. I think we just have to make it a priority.

      Reply

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