Whether you’re a twenty-something church planter or a seasoned pastor, sometimes it can be hard to be taken seriously in ministry.

There’s the young church planter that isn’t taken seriously by business people or community leaders in their area.

There’s the newer pastor that’s struggling to earn the respect of a new congregation.

It seems like people should automatically give you their utmost respect, but it doesn’t always play out that way.

It could be anything from personal character traits to people’s preconceptions of pastors that causes them to show a lack of respect, but either way, we’re here with some basic advice that will help everyone from your congregation to others you’re partnering with to take you more seriously.

1. Dress with purpose.

College pastor, the distressed, acid-washed jeans and Bieber pants will only take you so far.

I understand that a t-shirt and jeans makes you look more relatable and less like a stiff big-wig, but there’s a time and a place for it. More so, an age for it. If you feel too old for it, you probably are. If you are wondering if you look dumb in your outfit, you probably do.

Does this mean you need to dress in your Sunday best every day? Or that you need to blow all your money on a new wardrobe?


But if you want people to take you seriously, just putting a little bit of effort into basic grooming and dress can go a long way into people seeing you as a real life, put-together adult.

Not so that you’re the sharpest dressed person in the room, but your clothes aren’t a distraction. Dress normal for the occasion.

2. Read more.

And we don’t mean media articles.

Read more books. 

Short ones, tall ones, skinny ones, fat ones. The ones that you tell yourself you’ll just stay up five more minutes reading and the ones you have to slap yourself to stay awake through. Read them all.

Not only does reading boost our memories and improve our ethical and empathetic skills, but it makes us better readers, writers, and speakers as well. If you’re constantly being exposed to new language, ideas, and authors, you’re much more likely to improve than if you just continued to wing it and wrote the same sermons over and over again. Learning doesn’t stop after you graduate seminary. The best pastors (and people) realize their need to continue learning and growing.

3. Listen and ask questions.

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people are oblivious as to what poor listeners they are.

Research shows that the average person listens with only 25% efficiency. The Huffington Post shares 9 things that good listeners do differently than the average person. Some of these include being present, posing significant questions, and remaining open and not on the defensive.

Harvard Business Review shares that people perceive the best listeners to be those who periodically ask questions that promote discovery and insight.

That means not waiting till the other person runs out of breath to get in what you’ve been waiting to say, interrupting, or filling in every time there is a pause or lull in conversation.

Some great listening questions could be:

  • “Who are you learning from these days?”
  • “What are you working on that’s big?”
  • “I don’t understand…can you explain that to me?”

Great listeners make the best leaders.

4. Take notes.

Everyone is a different type of learner.

Personally, I can’t listen to someone and take notes at the same time. If I do, it needs to be a video so I can pause and process what I just heard.

Some people are natural note-takers and some are not.

That doesn’t mean we need to settle for never taking notes just because we’re not great at it.

The reality is that I could listen to a sermon and connect deeply with it and never remember it again if I don’t write any of it down. Research shows that taking notes by hand is one of the best ways to remember conceptual information over the long term.

It makes you feel like people are listening to you when they are taking notes during a sermon or talk you’re doing, doesn’t it?

This small practice not only helps us learn to retain information longer, but communicates to others that we are listening to them.

5. Meet deadlines.

This one is pretty simple, but often missed.

It’s the basic rule of being able to rely on people.

Do something when you say you’re going to do it.

(If you really want to look good, do it before you say you’re going to.) 

Life happens and there’s nothing wrong with occasionally asking for an extension with some sort of advanced notice. But you should regularly be setting deadlines and meeting them.

“Everyone in the real world will agree – the moment a project is behind deadline, quality assurance tends to go out the window.” –Alan Cox

That project that keeps getting pushed back and never getting done is only never getting done because you’re not setting a deadline and sticking to it. Discuss what you need to do to make that happen and ensure (whether it is your task or someone else’s) that they have everything they need to complete their task.

Here are 7 simple steps you can take to meet deadlines.

6. Stay healthy.

There’s nothing that says you’re on the hot-mess-express than constantly hacking up a lung and being sick on the regular.

Please, take care of yourself.

Speaking as someone that has been struggling with chronic illness for three years, it rattles my brain when people forego sleep, exercise, and basic nutrition.

You’re not doing yourself any favors by eating Taco Bell at 11pm, boasting about not remembering the last time you did any sort of movement that was good for you, or staying up till the wee hours of the night.

It communicates to others that you can’t take care of yourself.

If you can’t even take care of yourself, how are you going to take care of other things professionally, relationally, or spiritually?

If you’ve never looked at a healthy meal or gym in your life, this doesn’t mean you have to become the next Jillian Michaels or Dr. Axe. Real life change happens with time. Just as long as there is willingness to take small steps, such is as these six steps to self care.

7. Do the jobs no one else wants to do.

Sometimes being a leader and being taken seriously means stepping up and doing what no one else wants to do.

It means you’re the one getting things done.

It shows that you’re reliable and that you add value to your team.

Sometimes God calls us to do things that we don’t want to do. It’s unnatural, but when we do it with a joyful heart, we are leading our people to be more like Christ. And what better leader is there than that?

Like we said, real life change doesn’t happen overnight. If you can just take one of these principles and continue to improve on them over time, you’ll grow and improve as a leader.

What are some other ways you think you can be taken more seriously? We’d love to know.

So What's Next?

Feel like your church should be growing, but it's not? From someone who used to be a pastor and church planter, I know it can be frustrating.

Ultimately, church growth is up to God. But are we doing everything we can to ensure our church is healthy? How do we overcome the barriers we feel are in front of us?

We know you care deeply about leading a healthy growing church because it means leading more people to Jesus. As a result we created a free guide to breaking barriers that will bring clarity and help begin to alleviate your frustrations.

Get your FREE copy of the Senior Pastor's Guide to Breaking Barriers today.