These days I have missed being an associate. I have missed having someone else to work with, to brainstorm with, with whom to share the load and I have longed to be an associate again. Or at least I have wished I had fully appreciated what it meant to be an associate when I was one.
Please don't get me wrong. I don't think being an associate is an easy job, and I'm not sure if it's "easier" than being a senior, but it is different. There are different expectations (sometimes greater, sometimes lesser) and it is a different role.
As an associate, I don't think I fully appreciated the responsibility my senior(s) had of visioning and leading the church as a whole to something greater. I don't think I got a full taste of the conflicts that threatened to divide the church, even when they confronted me daily.
As an associate, there were days I longed for more authority...the power to decide a sermon series, or to change a worship service as I saw most appropriate, or to focus on an area of discipleship...those weren't my calls, and there were many times when it was hard to fully grasp what my senior wanted, and still other days when I didn't want to grasp it, let alone follow it. But now, as the one in charge, I long for days when everything didn't fall to my lap, when I didn't hold the last word.
Being a senior pastor isn't all bad. It definitely has perks, but so does being an associate, and if you are an associate, I'd encourage you to revel in some of those perks before they disappear.