“You know we are looking for a youth pastor,” Steve said to me almost 11 years ago as I was exiting my first district license interview on my home district. Steve was the youth pastor of a neighboring church on my district and had accepted the call to ministry in his early 30s, and for some reason we always got along. Even when I was an ignorant eighth grader at teen camp, Steve and I seemed to connect.
I was preparing to graduate college, get married, and begin my ministry at a church camp when Steve mentioned his church was looking for a youth pastor. His senior pastor had recently retired, and he had moved into the lead pastor position. Now he was looking to put together his staff. As we walked out of the building, he asked me to send him my resume.
A friend told me to consider this offer and advised, “Opportunities like this don’t come up very often — to work at a great church, in a great community, with a lead pastor you have a great relationship with and will work well with for years to come? Daniel, you need to understand this doesn’t happen very often.” He was right. I have just finished my eleventh year in full time ministry, at a great church, in a great community, working alongside one of my best friends. I know we have not always done things the right way, but we have always done them together and because of that, we have built a great friendship as a lead pastor and a youth pastor.
I know we have not always done things the right way, but we have always done them together and because of that, we have built a great friendship as a lead pastor and a youth pastor.Daniel Hillian
“I’m going to treat you like you were my own.” Steve said those words to me my first day, and I would not have it any other way. As my senior pastor, he has always treated me with respect, listened when ministry was going well and when it wasn’t, and always tried to give the best advice he could to point me in the right direction. There isn’t an ego or image to uphold with Steve or myself; we’re just trying to do our very best to help people look and act more like Jesus. That’s been the goal from day one and still is.
One of Steve’s qualities is that he trusts me to do my tasks. If I have questions or need help, he is a phone call or text away. He has enough going on and he isn’t the youth pastor anymore. That’s why he hired me and has always let me do what I feel is best. His only request was that I don’t surprise him. So anytime I plan something new or want to go a different direction, I will always run it by him first. I’ve been given a unique privilege, and I do not want to abuse it.
Is the relationship I have with my senior pastor the same relationship many other staff pastors have with their lead pastor? Maybe for some it is, and I encourage you to make the most of it and be aware of the opportunity. I believe one of the keys that works for both Steve and me is that our relationship is genuine. When things are great, we celebrate those times, and when things are tough, we struggle through it together.
Before stepping into a new situation, don’t go looking for more money, better facilities, or the things you think will make ministry better. Rather, look for someone you can work alongside while also enjoying life and what you do. Ministry will still have its highs and lows; however, when you find the right person, you don’t have to face challenges alone.