I was recently asked to come present to one of my favorite church staffs in the city where I live. I could talk on any topic and I had 30 minutes.  This is a multi-layered staff with many in their first ministry. There are also several who are in their first management/leadership role.

Hmmm…what should I have heard if I had been listening when I was first beginning on a church staff?

Well one complaint I’ve heard recently from other young leaders is that they just “don’t have a supervisor who is a developer.”  So I thought I’d take a crack at that and I presented two questions they needed to ask their boss.

1. “What are you not telling me?”

I firmly believe that most of us want to be liked. Especially in the local church leadership circle, and even more so when we are first beginning in overseeing staff. I remember it was really hard to say the thing that was going to sting or hurt someone I was leading even if it was for this person’s good. 

How many one-on-ones did I spend trying to say something and failing to do so? Those of us who are pastoral-leaders will especially struggle. So in recent years I’ve been coaching residents, and those new in ministry, to ask their supervisor this question at the end of a good one on one meeting (please choose a good day!).

2. “What are my gaps?”

Draw a continuum with two points. Point one is “where you are now” and at the other end of the line is the point “where you want to be” in a particular amount of time.  Maybe it’s the job offer after the residency is completed, or maybe it’s the move up to the next level of responsibility. 

No matter what it is, ask the boss what she needs to see from you to be able to achieve this.

Both of these questions position us as a person who is willing to be coached and challenged.  At the end of the day, this is one of the best characteristics all of us want on our team.

Of course, be prepared to hear the tough stuff, and then go act on it! Your development is on you.