Communication with the Boss

stimpackdown Doesn’t make a difference if we are talking about your pastor or pastoral life director or business manager or director of religious education or bishop, someone in your life serves as “the boss” to your professional and/or volunteer ministry. Your boss is looking at a very tough year ahead and has probably already been looking at it for a while.  As part of the Youth Ministry Stimulus Program, what can be done to make things better in your relationship???

The Vision Thing:  Yep, you’ve got responsibility for you slice of the pie.  Is your boss capable of responding to questions about the direction that you are taking and “name” some of the larger efforts/programs?  Are you well aware of where your boss wants your efforts to go (expectations) as well as his/her larger vision for the whole faith community??  Are you asking questions of your boss, are you learning? Where can you improve and how will your boss best respond to increased communication?  Are memos, one-on-one’s, and/or informal coffee klatch chats called for here?  Your relationship should include the personal (family stuff), the ministerial (church stuff) but should absolutely include the professional as well (performance stuff – Am I doing well?  Where can I improve?)

Don’t “Shoot the Shepherd:”  You yourself are well aware: leaders have immense bulls-eyes on their backs. Be loyal. Don’t get suckered into complaining conversations regarding him or her. Your best response is “You need to talk to him/ her directly about that.” And then report the conversation openly, giving names, that someone raised a concern. You’d be surprised how that disarms people. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the vision and direction provided by your boss, assume that person has what’s best for the Church in mind, and that he / she wants people to grow closer to God. Finally, pray for your boss, regardless of your relationship with him or her.

Taking It for the Team:  Your boss is dealing with a larger slice of the pie than just you   Where and how can you be of assistance?  Where can you bring your skills into play for “the greater good?”  Don’t under-estimate the value of just showing up for a program/presentation that has absolutely nothing to do with youth ministry but expresses support for your boss and/or the concerns of the whole church?

Office Hours:  All right, this (for some) might get a little painful…   It doesn’t make a difference if your office has a corner-view or if it formerly the broom closet without a phone or internet connectivity… of if you don’t really have an office at all.   You need to have a consistent presence around the place where your boss has a consistent presence, ie, “the office.”  If you are a believer in the profound possibilities of the informal contact  with a young person or a volunteer… then the same must be true with your boss!  But, it will not occur unless you are around – –  make that happen, huh??

Bring the Fun:  All right, no one signs up for youth ministry anticipating that it will be boring or grueling.  Soooo, don’t ever let it get that way. We must be the “morale officers” for our staffs and superiors.  Proactively celebrate your relationships beyond the “forced fun” of a office christmas party or birthday luncheaon (but bring the fun to those as well!! 

Some links for further reading:

> Companions in Ministry: Youth Workers and Pastors in Partnership

> Looking Over Both Sides of the Fence: A youth worker turned pastor looks at staff relationships

> Partnering with Your Pastor

> 10 Ways to Get Along With Your Pastor

> Power Struggles and Games

Any more suggestions, folks?  (We are all in this together, so…) Comment Away!

D. Scott Miller

D. Scott Miller is the dean of Catholic Youth Ministry bloggers which is a polite way of either saying that he is just plain old or has been blogging for a long time (since 2004.)

Scott recently married the lovely Anne and together they have five adult young people and also grandparent three delightful kids (so, maybe he is just plain old!) Scott presently serves at Saint John the Evangelist in Columbia, MD as the director of youth and young adult ministry.

He has previously served on the parish, regional, diocesan, and national levels as well as having taught within a catholic high school. He is one of the founders of RebuildMyChurch and has returned to posting regularly (keeping regular is important to old guys) at ProjectYM.

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