Earlier this year, I experienced an incredible breakthrough in my working relationship with my Senior Pastor … honesty! I have the highest respect for my pastor and basically joined the leadership team because of my relationship with him. We are the perfect match and can work together for weeks without talking and never miss a beat. Our trust level of one another is extremely healthy. Doesn’t this sound wonderful?

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention that the reason we flowed so well together is that we were not being honest with one another. Our respect and admiration of one another was so high that we did not want to risk messing it up, so we just smiled, had our meetings, and avoided getting down to some of the things that were bugging me and were bugging him. At the risk of loosing this easygoing relationship, we chose to stay away from honesty. We loved the ride we were enjoying in our new leadership vehicle and spoke often to others of how we were enjoying the ride. He did his job and I did mine and we just kept rolling down the highway of God’s great destiny for our church.

For three years we both worked hard in our responsibilities as XP and SP until one day, when I messed up. I sort of had a small outburst. Well, okay, a major breakdown, complete with tears, snot, and a shocked Senior Pastor. He just sat there with his mouth open, staring at me. Finally he got up and found some Kleenex (I should have charged the church for the dry cleaning; I was wearing my “XP uniform” that day—usually I only wear it once a week, complete with tie.

Looking back, he probably thought I was going to confess to not tithing or something. He had no idea what I was going to tell him. In a nutshell, I communicated to him that our working relationship was not working for me. I wanted more than a professional relationship. I wanted to get after this thing called “church leadership” as friends, ministry partners, two guys fighting a battle together. The whole “I love you, man!” stuff.

Over the next few weeks, I gained some perspective and ended up describing our relationship as driving down the highway on flat tires. The car was great, we were moving in the right direction, the stereo was playing our favorite songs, but we just were not enjoying the ride as it was meant to be enjoyed. Driving down a highway going two miles an hour is not that fun. Think about it.

Our relationship today has improved 100%. It is a whole new ballgame and we are extremely excited about working together with our new levels of communication and the freedom we have to be honest.

What is a key ingredients to being a successful Executive Pastor? One of the most important success indicators is the trust level between the Executive Pastor and the Senior Pastor. There is direct correlation between this relationship and the success of the Executive Pastor’s leadership. The issue is not whether or not the position is working but rather to what degree.