I borrowed the title of this post from my boss, Joey, who loves a good pun (and a bad one, too). There has been some transitions to our student ministry team over the past few weeks (all of which I am excited about). Even though the transition is smooth, we are still having to “relearn” what it means to work together as a team. I’ve worked with large church staffs and smaller staffs. I’ve had times of great joy and also great frustration. Learning to work alongside your staff family is absolutely essential to longevity in ministry. It takes patience and skill to navigate the waters of staff relationships.

I remember a time at a former church when I was butting heads with our facilities director (seems to be a theme for youth pastors). We were both trying to schedule events in the same room and I felt like my ministry was being neglected and belittled. What started out as confirmation e-mail quickly escalated to an all out war. I still remember sitting at my computer crafting an e-mail loaded with verbal ammo that I was sure would blast him into pieces. I was convinced that he was my enemy. Thankfully, I never sent that e-mail. Thankfully, I decided to go to his office and talk the issue over. When I did, I was able to hear his heart and he was able to hear mine. I was able to affirm his work and he affirmed mine. He actually cried a little when he realized how I perceived him (picture Mr. Clean with a mustache with tears down his cheek).

This little encounter changed the way I viewed him and the others I work with differently.

I learned to believe the best in others. Despite the evidence you may have gathered, a vast majority of the people you work with love Jesus and want to see other love Jesus, too. Remember this before you paint them as your enemy.

I learned that face to face communication is better than written communication. Email and text messages cannot accurately convey tone and heart. If you need to communicate anything more than pure information, do it face to face or over the phone or you will quickly get into hot water.

I learned that my ministry is only part of the church. The other ministries in your church are trying to juggle space, budget, and time just like you are. Give a little and you will help to advance the kingdom through the other ministries that serve alongside you. Chances are that your humility will result in blessings for your ministry down the road.

Your church staff is like a family. Sometimes it’s a joyful relationship. Other times it can be rough. Jesus prayed that we would be unified (John 17). It takes grace and humility to sow seeds of unity among a church staff.