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Building Bridges of Trust: Fostering a Stronger Relationship with Your Pastor
Every pastor I've worked with has maintained an "open door" policy, and they've truly meant it. Whenever I needed to chat and the door was ajar, I could poke my head in and ask, "Do you have a minute?" Having a leader who's approachable is essential for a thriving ministry environment; yet, an open door doesn't guarantee readiness to tackle whatever you bring to the table.
Through the years, I've encountered numerous folks who find it tough to bring sensitive issues to their pastors, be it about salary bumps or managing conflicts among coworkers or parishioners. Some pastors are all ears for these chats, while others might sidestep such encounters.
We all crave a leader who's up for the challenge, who listens to our concerns, and helps us discover solutions to our problems. Sadly, not all situations are straightforward, and deciding to approach our pastors often hinges on trust. Do you believe your pastor will handle your concerns constructively?
So, how do we foster that trust with our leaders? What steps can we take to solidify the bonds with those at the helm? It begins with:
PRAYING FOR THOSE IN LEADERSHIP
The weight of leadership can be immense. That's why it's crucial to seek divine guidance for them. Praying for your pastors to be led by the Holy Spirit and to rely on God is vital. They're mortal, after all, and no matter their experience, they need that divine grace to persevere. So, whenever you get the chance, say a prayer for them.
At times, we set the bar sky-high for our leaders. I admit I've been guilty of expecting flawlessness, ignoring the fact that they're still growing. Assuming that a leadership position equals complete wisdom is unrealistic. They won't always make the right call at the right time. And just like us, they falter, so we must extend grace to them as well.
This isn't to say we should let slip-ups slide or lower leadership standards. But if our expectations are unattainable, then they will never be able to meet them. To recalibrate your expectations, engage with your pastors. Inquire about the parish's vision, mission, and strategies. Strive for clarity on their direction and never hesitate to ask questions.
BE THE FIRST TO DELIVER NEWS
Issues are bound to arise in your ministry. Mistakes happen, a youth might act out, your words could be taken the wrong way – and that's only the start. No matter how messy it gets, keep your pastor informed. The last thing you'd want is for them to be blindsided by an issue from someone else when you're already aware of it. And don't keep them in the dark about the wins either.
To build trust with your pastor, openly share the highs and lows. If you must relay sensitive information and can't wait for a face-to-face, drop them an email to give a heads-up. It's better they hear it from you directly, and accurately than to be caught unaware and possibly misinformed.
PRAISE THEM PUBLICLY, AVOID SHAMING
Holding our leaders accountable is a must. If they err or slip up, we should feel empowered to address it – but never publicly, and certainly not through gossip. To handle such situations, find a respectful and constructive way to talk. This means avoiding public embarrassment and choosing a private, honest conversation.
If facing them alone feels daunting, bring along a coworker. If approaching them directly isn't an option, consider contacting your diocesan director or human resources.
While calling out your pastor may not seem like a way to build trust, gossiping certainly breaks it down. No one wants to be the talk of the town, so be mindful of what you say about your pastor and whom you say it to.
Trust-building takes time, especially with our leaders. When there's mutual trust, the nitty-gritty of ministry becomes more manageable. It doesn't mean conflicts won't arise, but you'll have the confidence that together, you can work through anything thrown your way.