Leading Your Senior Pastor

By Doug Franklin January 19, 2017

As youth ministry leaders we lead students, adult volunteers, and parents, but rarely do we think about leading up on the organizational chart. Although it may not be your first thought, leading up is becoming more and more important as the younger generations drive changes in culture. You are on the front lines of these changes, giving you the wisdom and insight that your senior pastor may desperately need. The thing is, your senior pastor values time served, and it will take time to earn his listening ear and bridge the disconnect between his worldview and yours.

Leading up is the key to making your voice heard, while hanging on to your job. Here are four ideas to begin leading your senior pastor:

1. Always lead from a place of passion and purpose

To effectively lead up you must first be authentic and humble. Passion makes you authentic, and daily recognizing your God-given purpose will keep you humble. When you lead from this position, older staff members may not like what you say, but they won’t assume that you’re full of yourself.

“Not until you are deemed trustworthy will you be encouraged to voice your suggestions.”

2. Earn trust through consistency

Do your job. Be on time. Be teachable, and demonstrate with your character that you are someone to be trusted. Not until you are deemed trustworthy will you be encouraged to voice your suggestions. When you share an idea, pay close attention to feedback, avoid the temptation to be defensive, and be prepared to repeat your suggestion at a later time.

3. Listen more than you talk

Share your idea, and then allow others to talk it through. When your idea is good, people will be able to discuss it out without you having to say a word. (And if it’s a great idea, they will come to your same conclusion.) State your idea, and listen for the discussion that follows.

4. Share life stories

When presenting an idea to higher ups, always communicate your point through a life story. It’s easy to shoot down an idea, but it’s hard to disagree with real life. A story will point to real people living out your idea with real results, and results are hard to argue against.

“The pressure that you apply on the church today will be the growth of the church tomorrow.”

Many of you have shared insights with your senior pastor or other members of church leadership only to be shot down. Please don’t give up. You are the innovators of the future church, and we need you. Take steps to lead out of passion and purpose. Be consistent in your work. Listen closely to feedback, and share stories that demonstrate your point. The pressure that you apply on the church today will be the growth of the church tomorrow.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More