A View from the Senior Pastor’s Desk


By Matt Wilks

It happened when I least expected it or planned for it. I remember stating quite clearly from behind a microphone numerous times throughout my tenure as a youth pastor that I would never, ever be a senior pastor. On youth pastor retreats, I used to make fun of them and I had no desire to ever be one of them.

People in the church would ask me when I was going to grow up and move into a real job or simply ask the innocent question of, “When will you use your gifts in the whole church?” Most times there was no maliciousness with the questions, just simply a question of wonder as they saw me both mature and get older in my leadership and physical age.

I became an Interim Senior Pastor for a four-year period of time and learned some lessons from being in the Senior Pastor Desk.

There were so many things I learned in my role as the lead pastor I wish I would have known as a youth pastor. The reality is I would have had a very different relationship with my senior pastors then the relationships that I had with them. I made so many incorrect assumptions about the role of a senior pastor that I wish I could have changed.

As a youth worker, if you could provide these few things to your senior pastor not only will your relationship become stronger, but also the church in return will become an effective bride of Christ.

Lesson #1: Relationship

In youth ministry, we are blessed with so many relationships. Relationships with our volunteers, relationships with our students and relationships in the networks and conference circles we walk in. A huge part of youth ministry is a pursuit of relationships. One of the biggest realizations I had as I became the senior pastor was that almost every relationship a senior pastor has is not a relationship of choice.

Every other ministry in the church allows the individual to recruit their own team where as the senior pastor you have so many relationships in which you do not get to choose the people you work with. I found myself lonely at times where I didn’t have people who I could walk with.

The other aspect of relationship is that instantly the staff’s perception of me changed. They were acting very similar to how I had by simply working in their areas doing what they got paid to do.

It is important as a member on a ministry staff for you to develop a trusting and honest relationship with your senior pastor.  Allow him to find safety in his relationship with you and to be real with you.

Lesson #2: Support

In the culture in which we live, there are many things we say we support. We support sports teams when they are doing really well, but lose interest when they are rebuilding. We support causes until the cause becomes too expensive or time consuming for us.

It is one thing to say to your senior pastor that you support him and another thing to actually show support in action. As I sat in the senior pastor’s desk wrestling through what bills should get paid when we didn’t have enough money or how we would do the initiative God was leading us to do, I needed to have resources beyond what I had on my own.

One of the greatest gifts you can bless your senior pastor with is the gift of the resources you have at your disposal in your ministry. Regularly ask your senior pastor what frustrations he has in regards to ministry and see if your ministry has the resources to take it off his plate. Bless him by sharing your resources so in return down the road, he can bless you by sharing his resources.

Lesson #3: Honor

Honor is defined simply as having high respect for someone and this needs to be how you view your senior pastor. A senior pastor will never be perfect, but he has been called by God to lead the church and will be judged by God for what he did with that responsibility.

Over my years as a youth pastor, I believed I honored my senior pastor, but there were times and conversations I entered into where I wasn’t honoring the man God had chosen for His church. People would ask me my opinions about things as a youth pastor and I would devalue the leadership of the senior pastor by not throwing my support behind him.

Honor your senior pastor by always sharing with him personally about the struggles you might have in his leadership. Just like you long to have your senior pastor support you, support him first so he knows you are in his backcourt. The reality is that a senior pastor often feels like someone is coming over his shoulder ready to attack him.

What do you wish your Senior Pastor would learn from sitting in your desk?