Whatever his “job description” may entail, he understands that he is assisting. His ministry is tied to the Senior Pastor’s ministry. In fact, it proves helpful if the Assistant Pastor understands his ministry as an extension of the Senior Pastor’s ministry. He may supplement gifts that are lacking in the Senior Pastor or possess similar gifts that are needed in more abundance.
Good Assistant Pastors are hard to find. In fact, I think they may be more difficult to find than good Senior Pastors.
A good Assistant Pastor must be marked by the same things as any other pastor. He should 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 some additional qualities.
He not only serves the congregation, but also the Senior Pastor. Whatever his “job description” may entail, he understands that he is assisting. His ministry is tied to the Senior Pastor’s ministry. In fact, it proves helpful if the Assistant Pastor understands his ministry as an extension of the Senior Pastor’s ministry. He may supplement gifts that are lacking in the Senior Pastor or possess similar gifts that are needed in more abundance.
Here are some things a good Assistant Pastor is marked by:
1. Unflinching loyal but not enamored. A good Assistant Pastor never sets himself up as a rival to the Senior Pastor. His loyalty is never in question. There are those in every congregation looking for breaches in this vital relationship. They will gossip about it, feed it, and angle for it. Some will sweetly whisper ego-boosting temptations—”You would have handled that better,” “If only you were preaching more,” “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 will always refrain from speaking ill of the Senior Pastor. Gossip, innuendo, and complaints will find no listening ear with him. All know that he is the Senior Pastor’s man. But even as he is to be loyal, so it is essential that he is not enamored. He is the Senior Pastor’s man, but he is not his worshipper. He is a co-laborer, not a sycophant. He ultimately labors for the Lord and His glory.
2. Listening friend but winsomely speaks. A good Assistant Pastor pursues a dynamic, self-sacrificing, and encouraging relationship with the Senior Pastor. The Senior Pastorate is often a lonely and demanding position. Any man occupying it craves a reliable friend. Though the Senior and Assistant Pastor may not take family vacations or watch sporting events together, the Senior Pastor has reason to count him as a trusted friend. In a good Assistant, the Senior Pastor finds a kind and listening ear, a co-labor who gives him the benefit of the doubt in conversation, and an encourager who willingly hears his struggles but never uses them against him. The Assistant Pastor provides refreshment, ease in conversation, and a support in times of trouble. He is a listening friend. Yet, he will speak the hard word when it is necessary—always behind closed doors and with humility—but he proves willing and courageous enough to do so. No matter how gifted the Senior Pastor may be, he is a mere man—a man in need of wise counsel, gentle correction, and (at times) a firm rebuke.