A good assistant pastor can be one of the greatest blessings a local church enjoys, or it can be one of its greatest struggles. He possesses the ability to support or divide, build or tear down, encourage or discourage. He can be a help or a detriment, a drain on the energies of the church and the senior pastor or one of their greatest refreshments. If you are a good one, keep at it. If you are looking for one, choose carefully. And if you have one, thank him.
Good assistant pastors are hard to find. I don’t say this because I am one. I say this merely from observation and as the hearer of too many horror stories.
WHAT MAKES A “GOOD” ASSISTANT PASTOR?
A good assistant pastor must be marked by the same things as any other pastor. He must possess a love for God, his Word, and his people. He needs to be strong and winsome, a teacher yet teachable, a man of prayer and action. Yet, he also must possess additional qualities. He is not only called to serve the congregation, but also the senior pastor. Whatever his “job description” may be, he must understand that he is assisting. This is essential. Here are some things a good assistant pastor is marked by, traits that, Lord willing, I will strive to acquire more and more of in my life and ministry.
1. A good assistant pastor is unflinchingly loyal, but not enamored.
A good assistant pastor never sets himself up as a perennial rival to the senior pastor. His loyalty is never in question. There are those in every congregation looking for breaches in this vital relationship, and they will gossip about it, feed it, and angle for it. Some will sweetly whisper ego-boosting temptations, “You would’ve handled that better” or “If only you were preaching more” or “I could see you as the senior pastor of this church someday.”
A good assistant pastor will have nothing to do with such machinations. He’ll refrain at all times from speaking ill of the senior pastor. Gossip, innuendo, and complaints find no listening ear with him because everyone knows he is the senior pastor’s man. But even as he is to be loyal, so, too, is it essential that he is not enamored. He is the senior pastor’s right-hand man, never his worshipper. He is a co-laborer, not a sycophant—and he ultimately labors for the Lord and his glory.
2. A good assistant pastor is a listening friend, but one who speaks winsomely.
A good assistant pastor will pursue a dynamic, self-sacrificing, and encouraging relationship with the senior pastor. Often, the senior pastorate is a lonely and demanding position, so many men occupying it craves a reliable friend. Though they may not take family vacations or watch sporting events together, the senior pastor has reason to count his assistant pastor as a trusted friend.