Understanding the Pastor and Youth Pastor Relationship


(Philippians 2:19‑22 KJV) “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. {20} For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. {21} For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. {22} But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.”
To begin such a lesson as this we have to understand that it was God, and God alone, that designed the ministry to be one of the most effective elements in His Kingdom. God chose ministry to be the tool to touch a lost world, train a righteous Kingdom and maintain a holy atmosphere. However, God also understood that there was often a greater need for ministry than just a local Pastor. Perhaps the greatest of those needs is for a successful youth ministry. This lesson is designed to strengthen the relationship – and the effectiveness – of both the Pastor and the Youth Pastor.

Few things are capable of yielding the spiritual benefits of having a strong youth ministry within the local church. Woe to the Pastor that doesn’t understand this! On the other hand, there is nothing that brings the fulfillment of seeing young lives touched as a result of your youth ministry. It is a privilege (and a great responsibility) that a Pastor has given you such an opportunity. Woe to the Youth Pastor that fails to protect that relationship.

You must understand that every sincere Pastor looks at his congregation through the telescope of a dream. However distant it may seem, he bears in his heart a dream of what that local congregation can become. This dream sometimes becomes frustrated when a Pastors responsibilities, which spans the entire circumference of congregational needs, doesn’t allow him the time or strength to personally maintain a strong youth ministry. When this happens a Pastor often draws someone into his arena of ministry to assist him by ministering to his youth group. God has called him to serve as a shepherd over that flock, a husbandman over that vineyard. That same Pastor has placed the confidence in you to care for the thing most precious to his heart. In effect, this man who has placed all his hopes and dreams into a congregation has allowed you to be a partaker of his dream!

If you are sincere about youth ministry you will eventually find that your heart bears the same dream as the Pastor. As surely as God has chosen the Pastor for that particular flock God has allowed you to be chosen as a participant in His plan for your city. However, heartaches usually come when you fail to realize the difference between being ‘chosen’ and being ‘equipped’. Being equipped for the task of Youth Pastor goes far beyond a few books on how to orchestrate youth services or knowing how to entertain youth. Your God and your Pastor may have chosen you but to be truly ‘equipped’ there are several emotional factors that need to be in place.

These emotional factors simply cannot be overlooked.
These factors absolutely cannot be replaced with simple zeal for the job.
These factors can never be bypassed if your youth ministry is to survive.

Our task here today is to equip you with an understanding of what it takes to have a proper Pastor / Youth Pastor relationship. The following emotional factors will help you maintain a proper relationship with your Pastor while serving as a Youth Pastor.

The very fact that you have been asked to serve as a Youth Pastor should indicate to you the amount of trust that your Pastor has in you. It is extremely hard to reach for a common dream when the trust factor is taken advantage of! As a Youth Pastor you must be cautious to never take an unfair advantage of your Pastor’s trust. Let’s look at just two of the many areas that commonly cause the trust factor to be strained and even broken:

Lack of Self Motivation. In most instances a Youth Pastor is only there because a Pastor feels a need for help in that area. He is weary of trying to keep the youth motivated in a spiritual direction. This is why he chose you as the leader of his youth group. He trusts you to motivate his youth in the right direction but that trust becomes strained when the Pastor has to continually motivate you! You were chosen to alleviate the pressure on a Pastor to continually motivate youth; Perhaps the only thing more frustrating to that Pastor is when he has to motivate you!

Spiritual Disassociation. One of the greatest responsibilities that my Youth Pastor bears is making himself aware of the spiritual condition of each member of my youth group. Remember that it was Pastor Paul that found comfort in sending a young man named Timothy to those in his flock. The reason was spelled out when he said “that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.” On a regular basis and at any given moment I may inquire about either member of my youth group. At that very moment I trust my Youth Pastor to have an adequate sense of where that young person is spiritually. Naturally, we realize that the spiritual condition of any person can change in a moment but it is the responsibility of the Youth Pastor to be familiar with their overall spiritual condition. Your Pastor has entrusted you to maintain that spiritual connection with his youth. Again, the purpose of the Youth Pastor is defeated if he affords himself the luxury of spiritual disassociation.

Having dealt with spiritual disassociation in this lesson at this point leads us to the next imperative factor which must be utilized to maintain a proper Pastor / Youth Pastor relationship. Let’s look at it now;

A healthy relationship between the Pastor and Youth Pastor includes a good understanding of why your doing what your doing. You are NOT a babysitter. And while recreation is a vitally important part of preserving unity among youth it’s dangerous to neglect the spiritual needs of your youth group. Many a youth group has self destructed because they were entertained but not empowered!

For this reason you must always keep in mind that your first priority among the youth is ministry. Being an effective Youth Pastor means much more than filling a ‘position’. In the process of time I’ve dealt with the frustrations of many Pastors whose Youth Pastor prided himself on having a position but had totally lost the ministry concept of dealing with youth. Every person holding an office or position in a Church should never forget the following statement…

Remember, it’s youth ministry. Forgetting the ministry concept in dealing with youth most always leaves the Pastor frustrated and the Youth Pastor unfulfilled. As with most Pastors, I’m not too terribly concerned with how good a Youth Pastor preaches. I’m not too concerned with the eloquence of speech or the latest youth service trend sweeping the country. The bottom line is this; What is the spiritual condition of my youth group?

Our Church has many strong pulpit ministries that evoke and receive a great response from our youth group. We understand that nothing can take the place of Apostolic preaching but, because of the abundance of preaching in other areas, the chief need of our Youth Pastor is not preaching. It may surprise you to know that, while I have a dynamic Church and a fairly large youth group, my own Youth Director is not a preacher at all! His strong points of youth ministry aren’t creating sermons, dazzling displays of pulpit ministry or altar call etiquette. He is most effective with our youth because he has a genuine love for their souls, a sincere concern for their problems and a firm grasp on what direction he’s leading them! To state it simply… Ministry, and not preaching, is the reason he excels.

When it’s all said and done it’s your ministry and not your preaching ability that becomes the gauge of your value and effectiveness to a Pastor. If you are a ‘preacher’, as many Youth Pastors are, this is NOT a detriment to your pulpit ministry! It becomes a ‘win – win’ situation because every individuals preaching ability excels when it is channeled through a true heart of ministry! Remember, preaching is ministry but not all ministry is preaching.

In speaking of the emotional factors that are needed to maintain a proper relationship between a Pastor and Youth Pastor there are few as important as the confidentiality factor!

If you truly deal with the struggles, heartaches and emotions of young people it won’t be long until their questions or calamities take you to the Pastor. You will need to seek his advice, his wisdom and sometimes just the consolation that you reacted in a right way to a particular situation. Many times, in trying to explain a particular situation, the Pastor will have to confide in you certain facts or past events leading up to this crisis. He’s not doing it to ‘gossip’ or betray someone else’s confidence; He’s doing it to let you know the whole problem so you can deal with it accordingly.

When this happens you become equipped with knowledge of things that can either become a tool or a weapon. Either you will use it discreetly to guide your decisions or you can carelessly allow it to become a weapon causing disappointment in others toward the ministry. When that happens that same weapon cuts away the integrity and openness you share with your Pastor. The deciding factor is your ability to maintain confidentiality.

In every relationship communication is vital to it’s success. This is especially true when it comes to the Pastor / Youth Pastor relationship. In our opening scripture we read that Pastor Paul understood the advantage of someone that understood things as he did. He expressed it by saying, “ For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.” Simply by being a leader within the local Church you sometimes have access to information that is sensitive, private and even embarrassing. Leadership suicide is committed when you take this information out of the Pastor / Youth Pastor relationship and tell it to others.

Some of the worst tragedies and deepest divisions within a local church have come from ‘loose tongued’ leaders that failed to make confidentiality a priority! It’s sad but true that some mistakenly place their priority on letting others know they have ‘inside information’ rather than confidentiality to a Pastor.

Nobody respects a tale bearer! For a Pastor to share private information is NOT talebearing; It’s equipping you, guiding you around potential spiritual ‘land mines’. For you, on the other hand, to divulge such information without Pastoral approval IS talebearing and unacceptable to your Pastor or your God.

One thing that surely every Pastor and Youth Pastor are reaching for is for a successful youth program. It’s noted that most successful youth groups are ones that have ‘bonded’ to their Youth Pastor. This is the phase when the youth let down their ‘guard’ and lean on the leadership and guidance of the Youth Pastor. This bonding happens at the point that the congregation begins to accept and honor your efforts. Fortunately, most Pastors aren’t intimidated when this ‘bonding’ comes between the youth and the Youth Pastor. Actually, most realize the need for such bonding and appreciate the honor a congregation exhibits towards a Youth Pastor’s ministry.

The Bible speaks about the importance of honoring those that labor in the Kingdom. Having the honor of a congregation is a cherished thing and should only be surpassed by your desire to honor the Pastor that allowed you the opportunity to serve that congregation. This is an important concept that every Church leader should understand.

All too often, however, when God allows a youth group to bond with a Youth Pastor it become misinterpreted as something totally different by the Youth Pastor himself. Either because of arrogance, pride or immaturity some Youth Pastors interpret this honor to be a shift in loyalty FROM a Pastor to themselves. When that happens it becomes common for a Youth Pastor to lower his guard, acting more with his human reasoning than his holy reasoning, and begin to take ‘cheap shots’ at a Pastor’s actions. While this can be done in many ways I’ll list only a few of them in this lesson:

Expressing disagreement with a Pastor’s decisions. Being a Pastor means, among other things, making a multitude of decisions every day. Be assured that you won’t understand why certain decisions are made. It is inevitable that there will be things that you would have done differently but it is a great mistake to express that to others! While there are those that may, in fact, honor you it won’t take long for that honor to vanish when they see you dishonoring their Pastor.

Telling others of a Pastor’s faults. While a Pastor is anointed of God he is not infallible. He’s made of flesh just like others and will have his share of ‘quirks’ and idiosyncrasies. Serving in leadership with him will perhaps allow you to see his anger, his pain and his weaknesses. A smart Youth Pastor knows the danger of speaking of a Pastor’s weaknesses. Whether slanderously stated or not it will serve no other purpose than to lower YOU, and not the Pastor, in their eyes!

Consider the Pastor ‘out of touch’. More than likely there will be a substantial age difference between you and the Pastor. It’s a mistake, however, to think of him as being ‘out of touch’ and unable to relate to youth. A cardinal sin among weak Youth Pastors is to try building himself up by giving the appearance that the Pastor is ‘out of touch’ with the Youth. His standards are still of necessity. His guidelines are still what that congregation will be held accountable to. You never build yourself up by tearing down a Pastor’s image in the eyes of others. Instead you disqualify yourself of the honor they want to bestow upon you.

Withholding information. It only stands to reason that there will be those in your youth leadership that will tell you things both disturbing and painful. It may be that sins will be revealed, abuses uncovered and hypocrisies exposed. Whatever the case may be it is of the utmost importance that you communicate these things to a Pastor. Withholding important information – for any reason – shows a tremendous lack of honor for a Pastor. This is always rewarded by erasing the desire of others to honor you.

Always remember that you can never go wrong by honoring your Pastor in every aspect. Throughout the Bible we are made to understand that the anointing knows only one direction and that is down. If you want an anointing on your life it is imperative that you anoint and honor the Pastor of the flock. With what measure you honor him it will run back down onto your own life and ministry.

In closing we must deal with one other key area of protecting the Pastor / Youth Pastor relationship. Actually, this area not only affects your relationship with a Pastor but with your God. For that reason we need to take a closer look at what happens when glory becomes a danger.

The ultimate goal of any youth ministry is for there to be glorious success rewarding your efforts. As with any area of ministry there are precious rewards to be reaped and perilous pitfalls that must be avoided. Time would not permit me to list all of the rewards a strong youth ministry can reap. Suffice it to say that when your youth ministry starts seeing success the glory of God will be seen in many areas;
A strong prayer life among the youth group.
Young people possessing a consistent walk with God.
A deliberate spirit of outreach towards the lost youth of your city.

Yet, when the blessings of God become manifest in your youth group it is imperative that you don’t allow the glory to become a danger. All it takes for this to happen is for a spirit of pride to take this glory to yourself instead of attributing the glory where it really belongs – to God alone. Again, Pastor Paul lamented the fact that many “seek their own” and aren’t willing to give God the glory of spiritual successes. The danger of this is that the God that blessed your ministry is well capable of stripping the success from your efforts.

Your Pastor needs your assistance.
Your youth group needs your ministry.
But your ministry needs the anointing of God on it!
That anointing will certainly cease when you covet
the glory of what God has done for your youth group.

Thus, claiming God’s glory as your own is dangerous to your ministry, your youth group and, consequently, your relationship with the Pastor. The only safeguard against this is to be constantly aware that it is God, and God alone, that transforms your efforts into success.

Recently I did a study on the various aspects of end time revival. In the process I discovered that almost 75% of the attitudes and traits that would be prevalent in the last days have to do with RELATIONSHIPS! Further investigation revealed that, again, over 75% of the problems described dealt with relationships. It’s with that in mind that it doesn’t take long to see the predominant attack of the enemy in the last days is AN ATTACK OF RELATIONSHIPS!

The more I delve into the Word of God the more I am convinced that most of the battles we fight in living for God today centers around relationships! As a Pastor I’ve taken a fresh inventory of the problems I deal with in the lives of Saints and found that almost every problem can be traced to relationships! Areas include…
Lack of relationship with God
Improper relationships with Saints
Broken relationships with the Pastor
Strained relationships with a Spouse and
Dishonorable relationships from Children.

I admonish you, as Youth Pastors, to understand that Satan’s chief warfare of this day is being leveled against our relationships! It’s easy to understand why Hell would delight in damaging the relationship between the Pastor and the Youth Pastor. I trust that following the guidelines of this lesson will assist you in protecting your relationship with your Pastor and find success in your ministry toward youth.

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