Unspoken expectations 1

Many hats

Many hatsChurches come up with some creative titles for their staff members. If you click on our About page you will read about my once-held title of “Minister of Youth and Family Ministries.” Sounds like something developed by the Department of Redundancy Department. I have also known several Youth and Worship pastors, Children and Youth pastors, several Youth and Young Adult pastors, and more than a few who were simply dubbed Associate Pastors.

Unless you are part of an extremely large church – I once saw a mega-church job posting for a Pastor to Eighth Grade Boys – you probably wear several hats. This is tricky business.

A Director of Christian Education told me she was hired to build adult education opportunities, and at her very first review was told she was not doing enough for the children. Confusion and frustration ensued. Before much longer she left that position.

The best defense against this type of exasperation is proactively seeking clarification of the expectations. I have met many who have their jobs shortened by unspoken expectations. The youth and worship pastor who expects it to be a 50-50 split of her time, while the supervisory committee wants her to spend two-thirds of her time with the youth. Or the education pastor who believes he should be out visiting with the families, but the lead pastor thinks he should be in his office most days. When these things happen, often both supervisor and employee become frustrated with one another.

The solution is simple: ask for clarification. Get answers regarding the presuppositions of your supervisory committee beyond the job description you signed when you were hired. During your annual review (if you are not being reviewed ask to be), clearly state your understanding of your responsibilities, and listen intently as your supervisor or supervisory committee shares the congregation’s expectations with you.

Wearing many hats is part of the fun of ministry, but it can be difficult. Unspoken expectations lead to disappointment – by the committee because you are not meeting them, and by you because despite your best efforts you cannot please the committee. Bring the expectations out of the dark and into the light. Both you and your supervisor will be much happier.


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