Our guest blogger today is Jeff Gordon, Executive and Discipleship Pastor of Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. Jeff served as a missionary in Southeast Asia prior to entering pastoral ministry. He is a graduate of Liberty University and Southeastern Seminary, and he is completing at DMin degree at Southeastern. Jeff and his wife, Jessica, have four children. 

Sometimes we mistakenly believe that those called to pastoral ministry should always have an end goal of landing a lead pastor role. However, many strong leaders have flourished serving from the second chair. Here are six reminders to those serving in associate roles.  

  1. Yours is not a lesser calling. Those who fill a 2nd chair role are usually strong leaders themselves, but they’re also those God has uniquely formed and gifted to thrive in a support role. This position is a high calling that often requires a broader range of gifts and talents than even the lead role.  
  2. You are vital to a leader’s success. Aaron, Barnabas, Timothy, and Joseph are just a few biblical examples of men who played vital roles in the success of the men who led them. Moses, Paul, and Pharaoh accomplished more because of these men, respectively.  
  3. Your role requires humility. We 2nd chair leaders must be OK with not being “the guy” and accept that others may get recognition for work we’ve led. We must honestly answer the question, “Am I working for God or man?”
  4. Your work allows you to use your gifts and “wiring.” The question is not “CAN I be in the first chair?” but “Will I THRIVE there?” For example, I love preaching and teaching God’s Word, but I would not be fulfilled if my role required me to sacrifice the administrative side of ministry.
  5. You often have influence without the weight of being “the guy.” Many 2nd chair roles carry much authority, but often with a lesser burden of leadership than the lead role. It’s ok to appreciate that perk of your position. 
  6. You must navigate the desire to seek a lead role. There is a natural desire for strong leaders to seek positions of greater influence—like a lead pastor. As you pray about your calling, be honest with yourself on how God has gifted you. Test your heart and your motivations. If your current role allows it, you might even seek an interim pastor role to “test the waters.”  This will help you determine if the burden of leading a church and doing weekly sermon prep and delivery is for you. 
  7. The gospel is always about pointing to someone else. Ultimately, it’s about pointing to Christ. But, it’s also about meeting the needs of others and counting them as “more significant” than ourselves (Phil 2:3). Your role turns your heart in that right direction. 

If you’re serving in a 2nd chair position, what words of encouragement would you add? 


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