It’s my joy to serve as executive pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., going on 23 years now. One of the most distinct privileges of this position is the opportunity I have to continually develop a close relationship with my pastor, Dr. Johnny Hunt. He is unquestionably my boss, but other than my wife, he is my best friend and closest confidant.
I am often asked about serving along a lead or senior pastor by executive pastors and other staff ministers. They want to know: What is involved in developing a good relationship with your senior pastor? Does it automatically happen as you serve together? Is it an easy thing to accomplish? Who is more responsible for the outcome, you or the pastor?
Here are some points that have helped make my and Pastor Johnny’s relationship possible:
1. Be certain you are called by God to ministry and you are where He wants to you be, doing what He wants you to do. God has first place in my life without question. Certainly without a doubt, I am called here and that call involves my leadership of the staff and service to the members of FBCW. But I feel God called me here primarily to serve my pastor.
2. Show him respect and make sure he knows he can trust you. This is the key element that made our relationship possible. I respect him. He can trust me. Since day one, Pastor Johnny and I made it a priority to have mutual respect for one another. Although we do not agree on everything, we respect each other’s opinions and I keep our disagreements private. He has my loyalty and trust, and I communicate that to him often.
3. Look for ways to serve him. Much of my responsibility is to make his load lighter. I have a specific job description, but my desire is to not be limited by it. Instead, I do whatever is necessary to free Pastor Johnny up to do what God has called him to do.
4. Look for regular ways to bless your pastor and his family. They deserve it and they need it. One of my pastor’s strongest gifts is encouragement, so I try to follow his example. I regularly write personal notes, emails and other forms of communications not only to him, but also to his family. I celebrate and offer congratulations on occasions that are special to his family, such as accomplishments, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.
5. Most importantly, pray diligently and continually for him, his family and his ministry. I have attempted to follow the example he has so passionately set for me in being a faithful prayer warrior. I spend regular and specific amounts of time praying for him and his needs daily. He deals with issues no one knows about and needs the wisdom of God. I drop him notes to assure him of my prayers for him regularly. Pray diligently for your pastor and assure him you are doing so. There is no greater gift you can give him.
I realize there must be a mutual effort on the part of both you and your senior pastor to have a great relationship. I pray that you will make it a priority to consciously and intentionally put into practice these points. And I pray that God will do a work in your relationship in ways that perhaps you are not experiencing presently. It’s the right thing to do.