I love hanging out with student pastors. In fact, I’ve never had a desire to do anything other than student ministry. Sure, making more money would be nice, but other than that I can’t think of a better job.
I’ve noticed recently that a lot of my conversations with student pastors have gone like this:
Them: If you know of any job openings, let me know.
Me: Everything okay?
Them: Oh yeah. Our student ministry is awesome! Better than it’s ever been. I’m just not sure about the rest of the church.
That’s when I know exactly what’s going on. So I prod.
Me: How do you get along with your senior pastor?
Them: Oh, he’s great. Nice guy. Been pastoring for a long time. Honestly, I just think he’s tired and ready to move on.
Me: Oh yeah? Did he tell you that?
Them: No, but I can just tell. He doesn’t really have a passion for it anymore. Between you and me, other people have noticed, too.
Most of the time, that conversation ends with two simple ideas:
- The senior pastor needs to go.
- They need to be in charge.
I’ve been there. I remember being a 23-year-old student pastor thinking that I would do a better job running the church than the guy who was running it. I thought I needed to lead, but I’m so glad I didn’t.
There are lots of reasons why, but I’ll pick one.
Let’s say I became the key leader as soon as I thought I deserved it. How insecure would I be the second I hired my first student pastor? I’d wonder if he or she were thinking the exact same things that I thought when I was the student pastor: I would do a better job of being senior pastor than Ben. The student ministry is great—it’s the rest of the church that I’m worried about. Other people have noticed, too.
If you hijack your senior pastor’s leadership right now, you’ll be paranoid when you become a senior pastor later. Sure, you’ll be in charge, you’ll have the power to change the way things are done, and you’ll have people who follow you, but there will be a nagging insecurity that comes with it. You’ll remember the way that you thought about (and yes, talked about) your leader, and you’ll wonder if your student pastor is thinking those things about you.
If you don’t want to follow now, does that make you qualified to lead later?
I don’t think so, and I don’t think you believe that, either.
Maybe, just maybe, the quicker you learn to follow, the sooner you will be ready to lead.
How should you follow?
The way you want to be followed one day.
So stop and think about the people who follow you now and think about the people you hope will follow you later. How do you want them to treat you? Think about you? Talk to you? Talk about you?
Write it down.
Now go and do that for your senior pastor.