Thursday, January 24, 2008

Second Fiddle

A friend of mine – Dr. Jim Hart, president if IWS recently wrote that we need to be ". . . developing, teaching and modeling a more intentional leadership style in our community, one that is characterized by humble service without compromising biblical convictions." And, in our emphasis on forming leaders in worship renewal we need to explore the ". . . hard, sacrificial, sometimes surgically necessary kind of formation that is often painful and exhausting, but capable of bearing the weight of glory. And all accomplished by grace."

Leonard Bernstein was once asked, “What was the hardest instrument to play?” His answer: “Second Fiddle!”

The life of an associate minister is one of sacrificially giving up your rights, dreams and goals to support, and champion the dreams and goals of your senior pastor, all the time trusting God to meet your needs, wants and dreams.

A recent Willow Creek magazine has an interesting article about life in the second chair. It is a series of interviews with second in command and how they have learned to support the dreams and visions of others. Being a second banana has its benefits and its challenges. A major benefit is that you chose to hook your wagon to someone else’s bandwagon and thus someone else takes the hits. The challenge is that you are often asked to play someone else’s hit man.

I have played second fiddle for most of my ministry life. It is a unique position to be in. It has correctly been said, “one can accomplish almost anything, as long as you don’t care who gets the credit.” I have personally found it to be true. The most difficult situation is when you have a senior pastor who has no vision, or if he does, he is incapable of communicating it.

I’ve seen good ministries that have failed and almost closed their doors because the staff and the congregation were going in as many different ways as there were people.

If you read some of the different versions of the same verse Proverbs 29:18 you will get a glimpse of what happens when leaders fail to lead

Proverbs 29:18 (NIV)

18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18 (NASB77)
18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18 (MSG)
18 If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

The specific truth that we can grasp from reading this verse is that our people need a clear vision and goal if they are going to succeed. Without a game plan the game is lost and without clear vision of God’s leading people will do their own thing. They certainly won’t be attending to or happy about doing God’s will for their lives.

Judges 17:6 (NLT)

6 In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

To paraphrase the verse above
“In those days the church had no leadership, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

Pray for your leadership
Pray that they are listening to God’s voice and are sensitive to His leading
Pray that they will cast a vision that God has given them
And pray that you will be willing to listen and follow

Prayerfully submitted

Dr. Val

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