How to Become An Indispensable Staff Pastor

By Justin Lathrop

Staff MemberI spent 12 years serving as a staff pastor at two different churches. Both experiences were unique, positive, and challenging and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. I don’t plan on ever being a lead pastor, so I’ll spend my entire career serving on a staff rather than leading one.

If you are a staff pastor, you know that no job is ever 100% secure. Things happen, the economy has its ups and downs and leadership needs change from year to year.

But there are four strategic things you can do to make yourself an indispensable staff pastor.

1. Put yourself in the middle of the “most important objective”

You might be wondering, “what is the most important objective?” Great question. Do some research to find out what your lead pastor’s most important objective is — what God has placed on His heart — and do what you can to put yourself in the middle of it.

You might ask him directly what he hopes for in the next five-ten years of the church or you might just be a good listener. For instance, if you hear frustration from him around why the church has a low retention rate for visitors, make note of it and take initiative to help craft a solution.

Volunteer to lead a task force to accomplish the objective.

2. Make strategic connections for your pastor.

Consider your pastor’s needs and interests, and help him make connections to people who would be helpful for him. Make sure these relationships are life-giving and not things that give him more work, but consider the possibilities.

Seek out people who are anxious to serve and make the connection.

Seek out those who have resources to share, and make the connection.

Seek out those who have expertise to offer, and make the connection.

If these connections are strategic and contribute to accomplishing his present objectives or future dreams, you become his greatest asset and add value to him on a daily basis.

3. Bring more solutions than problems.

When you see a problem, it’s tempting to let your pastor know about it right away. What if, instead, you stopped for a moment to brainstorm solutions. Then, when you tell him the problem, you’ll be able to offer ideas to solve the problem, rather than just lamenting the problem itself.

To really push the envelope, volunteer to be a part of the solutions you came up with as you brainstormed.

4. Think team, not silo.

Don’t always talk about your needs or your budget. Instead, offer to sacrifice for other team members or departments. Find ways you can show your ministry is not singular in focus but recognizes it’s part of the whole. For example, your youth leadership team can volunteer to do all the set-up for a children’s ministry event.

Offer to evaluate other ministries. If you’re a respected youth pastor with good relationships with other staff members, volunteer to spend one Sunday a quarter going to the kids’ church and give tips on making it a better experience.

We don’t become indispensable by jockeying for power or claiming our rights, but by humbly and intentionally serving our pastor and our team.

It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s true.

Justin Lathrop

With over a dozen years of local church ministry Justin has spent the last several years starting business' and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom. He is the founder of (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and all while staying involved in the local church.

Justin is obsessed with connecting people to people and lives his life daily to make the world a smaller place. He now serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominately working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people.

He blogs regularly about what he has learned from making connection at