I have a close affinity for “2nd chair” leaders. I spent 5 years in the Army and 5 years on staff at a large church and I know what it is like to be “A” leader but not “THE” leader. In the church world, a 2nd chair leader typically plays the role of associate pastor. For my non-church going friends the associate pastor is typically the grunt who accomplishes a variety of tasks ranging from office work to youth ministry to hospital visits to toilet repair. Obviously, the job description depends on the size of the congregation and the leadership culture of the local church. Nevertheless, 2nd chair leadership can be terribly frustrating at times. I want to share a few thoughts directed toward the staff/associate person who is struggling in their current role:
1. Take a deep breath and remember – we all work for JESUS first. It doesn’t matter if you are in the Army or on staff at Third Baptist Church of Dunedin, FL. Your boss may be unrealistically demanding, lazy, incompetent or all of the above. Don’t use that as an excuse to not give Christ excellence in your current assignment. Remember who you REALLY work for (oh yeah, you can exhale that deep breath you just took).
2. The Bible says that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I know you have good ideas. I know you are crazy gifted. Don’t let it get to your head. Stay humble. Don’t be disrespectful. Honor your leader and God will honor you.
3. EVERYTHING you are dealing with now can be used as a great learning experience…if you let it. Perspective is everything. I constantly draw on lessons I learned both good and bad from my years as a staff pastor and lower enlisted soldier. I might not have appreciated those situations at the time, but I am better off because of them.
4. You are not just some underling. You are not a slave. You are not the hired help. You are called, chosen, and empowered by God to lead. Let that truth be the source of your job satisfaction. I’m not saying there won’t be days that you will want to quit. What I’m saying is that when those days come, remember who you are and who God has called you to be. There’s an army of us out here who believe in you.
Let’s get to work.