Keeping your supervisor (the big dog) abreast of your vision and plans can save you a lot of time and frustration. Think of the time you spend Informing and sharing as an investment account that grows over time. It may be only a duty in the beginning but eventually, it grows into something worth a great deal. You not only build trust but you build a rapport and maybe even a friend.
Don’t reach too high on the ladder of expectation on this one but there are some pastors who are friends with their student minister and hold the ministry to students and the student pastor himself in high regard as he executes his ministry faithfully and professionally under the umbrella of the church.
Some student ministers and supervisors even enjoy a relationship that supersedes the ministry they share. The time and frustration you will save in the long run will far outweigh the time and energy you spend connecting with and relating it to your supervisor. When the occasion arises or when you create the occasion, run your ideas by your supervisor to get input and feedback. Sure, you may get nothing but that’s ok. Maybe your supervisor is a bit out of touch or a generational leftover who identifies more with “uncle Rico” than cutting edge cultural trends but his friendship and approval can still be an asset to you.
Let me share four compelling reasons why it is worth your effort to pursue the best communication possible with your supervisor.
- Essential Chain of Command: Sharing information upstream is simply the right way of doing things. If it is not in your job description it should be. Keeping your supervisor informed is not just the right thing to do, it communicates respect, courtesy, and competence. As information flows up and down the communication chain and you do not want to be the weak link in that chain.
- Essential to Your Success: it is nearly impossible for you to be highly successful at your ministry job without your supervisor’s support. You may be good at your job. You may even possess the potential for being Moses of the youth group but without the support of your supervisor, your ministry will be less than it could be and your headaches more frequent than they need be. Our research indicates that student ministers who enjoy regular communication with their supervisor are less likely to be terminated or experience premature ministry exit. Our research also reveals that 100% of youth ministers prefer communication over termination.
- Essential for Protection: Your supervisor can not protect you from the accidents that occur in student ministry if he is not aware of what is going on. He cannot protect you from negative or ill-informed members who turn on you or share misinformation. Even if he does step up to provide a shield and buckler for your defense he may be forced to do it blindly if he is not informed. It makes him look bad if he does not know the situation so he is inclined to either throw you under the bus so you can learn a lesson in communication or defend you and risk his reputation. Without a relationship and track record of good communication and sound judgment, he is less likely to do the latter.
- Essential for Promotion: There will be many times when you will need extra promotion for a student ministry happening. Few people can speak directly to the hearts of senior adults and parents of youth like the senior pastor or administrator. And if they are not routinely seen promoting the student ministry (which would be rare) then their voice of promotion and support will be even louder among the masses. Your supervisor most likely runs in circles to which you have little access no time to cultivate so consider him to be an extension of your promotion and marketing arm.
If you are convinced of these four essentials truths, then cultivate the relationship with your supervisor. Figure out their leadership style, how they like to receive information when they like to digest new ideas, when the timing is best and worse, and how he enjoys relating to you.
”My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” James 1:19-21
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” Colossians 3:23-25