The Fastest Way to Win Respect at Your Church

The Fastest Way to Win Respect at Your Church

It’s hard to win respect at your church because many people think of youth ministry as a stepping stone position for the guy who’s all grown up but wants to act like he’s still in high school.

They assume you’ll move up the ministry ladder to a position that’s more dignified and respectable after you grow up, get married, have kids, or experience some other life event that makes you more mature in the future.

It’s not their fault. Their experience has taught them to think that way.

The fact is, many youth pastors are lazy and unprofessional.

How can anyone take someone seriously who shows up late to meetings, takes a two-hour lunch break, and burps in their voicemail greeting? (Yes, I really know a youth pastor who has done all of those things.)

Being professional is the fastest way to win respect at your church. It will help you build trust by elevating the perception that people have of you and your ministry.

Download chapter 1 of Your First 90 Days in a New Youth Ministry

Here are 4 ways to be more professional and win respect:

1. Keep Your Promises

When you make a commitment to someone, whether it’s your boss, a coworker, a parent, or a student, do your best to honor it.

If you tell a student that you will be at her dance recital, then you better get there. If you tell your boss that you will have a report finished by next Tuesday, then you better get it done.

If it ever becomes clear that you won’t be able to keep a promise, meet a deadline, or honor a commitment, then let that person know as soon as you can.

If that happens, don’t spend time making excuses. Instead, just focus on making it right and making it up to them.

2. Mind Your Manners

Manners never go out of style, even though plenty of people seem to have forgotten them. That’s unfortunate because being polite can help you develop a great reputation as a person that people want to be around. Here are a few pointers:
*Hold doors open for other people.
*Don’t make inappropriate comments, jokes, or gestures.
*Don’t interrupt or try to one-up someone else’s story.
*Don’t answer your phone or check your email in a meeting.
*Show up on time and prepared.

3.Dress Appropriately

Every church has its own culture and policies to determine what’s appropriate to wear and what’s not. Some places allow you to wear shorts in the office, but you have to wear khaki pants on Sundays. Other places don’t allow you to wear shorts at all, but jeans are acceptable at all times. Flip Flops and t-shirts are also things you’ll want to decide about.

But here’s the thing:
Just because you can wear something doesn’t mean you should wear it.

Whatever the dress code is, make sure you’re meeting it with style. Your camouflage hoodie might be fine on the Winter Retreat, but it’s not a great choice for Sunday morning.

Image isn’t everything, but it is something. Dressing appropriately will help you build trust with your target audience.

4. Respond Promptly

My wife and I started attending a church a few years ago. I met the youth pastor and we chatted for a little while. It turns out that we had some common acquaintances. I told him that I’d love to help him out as a volunteer in whatever role he needed help with. I wasn’t picky; I just wanted to help.

He told me to call him that week. I did. He didn’t answer, so I left a voicemail.

No response.

A few weeks went by before I saw him again at church. I mentioned the voicemail. He said he’d gotten busy and forgot to call me back. I understand. That kind of thing happens sometimes. I told him again that I’d love to help him out. Whatever he needed to be done, I was willing to do.

He said to call him again that week, so I called him again. No answer. Another voicemail.

No response.

I sent an email. No response. Again.

That guy lost all credibility with me.

At that time, I was working for a company that provided staffing services for the Department of Defense. If someone called me or emailed me, and I didn’t reply to that person within 24 hours, I would’ve been in big trouble with my boss.

If that level of responsiveness was expected in business, there’s no excuse for not being responsive in the church…especially in this day of smartphones, text messages, and instant communication.

Your Move

If you want to be taken seriously and win respect, then you have to be professional.

Keep your promises.
Mind your manners.
Dress appropriately.
Respond Promptly.

That’s the fastest way to win respect in your church.

For more on this topic, check out my book:
Your First 90 Days in a New Youth Ministry

How about you?

What’s the dress code for staff members at your church?
Let’s chat in the comments below…

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Trevor Hamaker (DMin, McAfee School of Theology) is an author, adjunct professor, and youth ministry coach. He helps youth pastors see their potential, develop their skills, and reach their goals.

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