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How to Pastor Your Conference President
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By Marvin Wray

I certainly have a unique privilege in talking about this challenge since my conference president just happens to be a member of my church. Just prior to my arrival, he was also the pastor of this congregation, which certainly gives us some very special connecting points. But let’s take a look at this relationship from a broader perspective.

There are some basic approaches to providing pastoral care to your conference leadership team – especially the president. There have been times when I was in the conference headquarters and have taken the opportunity to step into his office, talk for a few minutes and include a time of prayer. I think this is particularly meaningful when you know there are crisis issues or perhaps when a constituency session is near. 

Sending a card, or in today’s computer world, an e-mail for encouragement and promised prayers is always a nice break in a leader’s busy day. But, I think if you really want to effectively minister to your conference president you should develop a relationship that goes beyond the formal basic steps.

I have found, through forty years of pastoring, that my most effective ministry to church members comes with those I have built a relationship that goes beyond the expected prayers and crisis visits. The families that I have been able to interact less formally and more personally are the ones I am able to impact most in times of specific needs. While, especially in larger churches, it is impossible to have the same depth of relationship with every family, longer pastorates certainly make for more effective ministry. It simply takes time to develop a connection that leads to meaningful pastoring.

The same concept applies to providing spiritual care for your president. You don’t have to be a frequent golfing buddy to build that relationship, just be a friend. How do you build a relationship with anyone? You find opportunities to spend some time together. You find common interests. You offer to help when you see a need. You respect their schedule and demands and don’t push yourself on them, but simply find ways to show them that you care.

Presidents are very busy leaders and the old adage that says, “It’s lonely at the top,” is certainly true here. Make sure that you are acting from the right motives. This much-needed ministry is not about what the relationship can do for you, but about what you can do to be one who simply comes alongside to encourage. Some key words to describe effective pastoral care to your president would be: consistent, faithful, loyal, sincere, and certainly, Christ-like.

Perhaps the best starting point, if you don’t already have a pastoral relationship with your conference president, would be to stop by or send an e-mail and simply ask, “What can I do to help you today, this week, or this season?” Let your leaders know that you are already praying for them regularly and simply open the door for them to respond.

Lastly, make sure that your desire to minister to them is not undermined by any conversations you may have about them in the halls with other pastors or constituents. In other words, show yourself to be a trustworthy friend. In the world of church leadership, trustworthy friends are not always easy to find, but they are worth their weight in gold!

Marvin Wray is lead pastor for Napa Community Church in Northern California