It was just the Senior Pastor and myself at the church one afternoon. I knocked on his door and asked if he had a few minutes to talk about something. I knew his answer would be, “Sure!” as he took off his glasses, put down his Bible, and gave me his attention. I knew this because over the past 8 years, that’s the same answer I always received when I needed to talk to him (well the glasses were a recent development, but you get the point). I walked in and sat in the blue chair I always used during our meetings. My voice was shaky, so I got right to the point, “Ashley and I have prayed about it and we feel like God is leading us to a new position in Michigan.” I barely got that out of my mouth before the tears began to stream down my face.
Youth Ministry is more than a job. It’s more than a meager paycheck and lousy benefits. It’s a relationship. A relationship with the students you’re leading. With the parents of those students and many of them having multiple students either in the youth group or coming up. It’s a relationship with the church as a whole. And possibly most important of all, it’s a relationship with the staff, especially the Senior Pastor.
That’s what made that day so hard for me. My Senior Pastor was not just my boss, he wasn’t just a guy I knew was breathing down my neck, looking for numbers and budget reports, Pastor Gary was my friend. Our families were close. My wife, Ashley, and I would eat meals with Pastor Gary and his family. He helped with the landscaping of our house. He was our premarital counselor. Pastor Gary helped mentor and shape me when I was starting out in Youth Ministry.
After I choked out the, “I’m resigning” part, Pastor Gary and I went on to have an awesome conversation about my time there and what the future would hold.
Here are 3 things I took from that conversation that I think all Youth Pastors should want to hear from their Senior Pastor as they resign:
YOU ARE VALUED
One of the first things out of Pastor Gary’s mouth was, “Do you need more money?” I smiled and jokingly said, “Of course!” But this wasn’t about money for my wife and I. As I’ve looked back on this conversation, I’ve thought about this comment. I think what Gary was implying was that he saw something of value in what I was doing at the church and in a monetary way, he was willing to pay for it.
We all want to hear that what we’ve done matters. We want to know that someone noticed. Not in a conceded or egotistical way, but it’s always nice to know that when we work hard and even go the extra mile, someone has seen it and wants to give us a nice pat on the back.
YOU WILL BE MISSED
Pastor Gary isn’t necessarily the sentimental pastor. He’s more of a man’s man! He’s a hard worker. Occasionally, during a sermon or the death of someone close to him or the church, Gary would shed tears and you’d see his softer side.
I don’t know what I expected when I walked in his office to tell him I was resigning. What I received was love. We spent time going over the last 8 years, talking about the growth we’d seen and how much things had changed. We laughed and cried. Gary told me specifically how much he and the church would miss Ashley and me at least a half dozen times throughout our conversation. I left his office that day knowing that the relationships my wife and I had built would last far beyond our physical time there.
WE VALUE YOUR INPUT
I spent another 2 months at the church after that meeting before moving to Michigan. During that time, Gary and I had meetings about the future of the youth group and who will lead it. Gary consistently asked for my input in the areas I had been involved in during my time there. I was able to give feedback and have open conversations about things I had experienced and seen.
This wasn’t something Gary had to do. But, at a time where I felt disjointed and sort of stuck between my role as Youth Pastor there and moving to a new church, it kept me engaged and encouraged me to finish strong.
All of this is well and good and you can read it and say, “Well I’m glad he had a good experience, but mine will be different, he doesn’t know my Senior Pastor,” and it probably will be different, but let me offer a challenge to you.
The Bible tells us in Galatians 6:7-9:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
If we truly reap what we sow, my challenge for all of us is to put into our work things we eventually want to get out of it. That includes building relationships with those you are on staff with even if the bridge seems burnt or crumbling.
If you want to be valued, missed, and have your input taken seriously what are you doing today that will lead to that outcome in the future if/when you resign?
Director of Operations & Communications
Never The Same
© 2014, Never The Same