• Never…ever talk negatively about your senior pastor to other people.  This would obviously include even other staff personnel.  Don’t even allow people within the congregation or staff to talk negatively to you about him.  Granted, he may have several weaknesses that make this guideline a pretty taxing one.  But prioritize loyalty and realize that you will always reap what you sow.  Obviously, in rare circumstances, your pastor may have ethical issues that must be brought to the attention of his governing body.  But most of the negative concerns you will be tempted to verbalize will not be in this category.  So refuse to allow yourself to become an “Absolom” to him.
  • Once a year, take an hour out of your schedule to create a handwritten note, thanking him for the privilege of ministering with the teenagers and telling him specific things you appreciate about his character.  I can hear some of your thoughts even as I type this sentence.  “I’m a non-paid volunteer.  Why should I be writing him a thank you?  He should be writing one to me!”  You are absolutely right again.  But I thought you wanted pragmatic ways to enhance and storm-proof your relationship with the senior pastor.  That being true, you will reap the dividends of that yearly one-hour-note-writing-session  more than I could adequately tell you.
  • When “trouble in River City” occurs, make sure you get to your senior pastor to inform him before the other parties do.  Don’t allow yourself to become paranoid on this issue.  But occasionally, you should hear yourself saying, “I just wanted to give you a heads up on something in case you hear the other side of the story.”  This principle is especially important when you experience rough waters with the teenagers of other leadership in the church.
  • If the senior pastor has a son or daughter in your youth ministry, go the extra mile to connect effectively and regularly with them.  Wrong or right, every good parent deeply appreciates someone who helps them positively navigate the teenager years with their children.  Guard against becoming “emotional competition” with your pastor for his student’s love or loyalty.  But as bratty and intimidating as some “PK’s” can be, go beyond the call of duty to connect positively with them.

Do these simple suggests make a difference?  I really think so.  I remember when I participated in my oldest son’s wedding.  His senior pastor made comments during the ceremony and said, “I think of Josh as a true son to me,” and judging from his voice tone and the look in his eyes, he  really meant that.  I smiled internally and mentally sent up a quick prayer.  “Thanks, Lord.  Josh has  several more wonderful years ahead of him with this man, and my mom’s heart is really grateful.”

If you’re struggling in this area, you may want to listen to the Youth Leader’s Coach called, “A Heart To Heart Regarding Your Senior Pastor.”