An orchestra conductor was once asked what the hardest position in the orchestra was. Everyone expected him to say the first chair violin. But, to everyone’s dismay, he claimed the second violinist was the most difficult position in the orchestra.
When asked why, the conductor replied, “Because the second violinist plays just as well as the first violinist. He practices just as long, and plays just as flawlessly but he get’s none of the praise.”
I remember being about 11 or 12, playing computer games all day long, not really caring about preaching that much. I had better things to do, I was just a kid. Someone brought a tape to me, I don’t even remember who it was. It was a tape (why does the word tape sound funny now?) of a seminar from some conference on being a second man.
I shouldn’t have even been interested in it. I didn’t even really know what a Second Man was back then. But I did listen to it. A minister by the name of Scott Graham, who now pastors in St. Louis, MO was the teacher of the seminar.
I don’t know why it clicked with me, it just did. This is going to sound funny, maybe nerdy, but I used to listen to that tape while I played computer games on my new 56k modem. No other kid was listening to seminars when they played, but I was.
So from memory, I will give you the main points of the art of being a second man.
- Ministry is not a trade school.
Too many times young ministers take their ministries for granted. Their ideal spot is a pastor of some huge church out there that has thousands beating the door down to hear their great preaching. All the positions they fill in ministry before that dream happens is just stepping stones.
- They take student ministry positions with no burden for youth because that’s just what young preachers do.
- They make sure and marry someone who can do music really, really good.
- They want to make sure every ministry decision reflects well on their resume.
- They aren’t emotionally connected to any position they see as just temporary.
- Your ministry focus is not to be successful
What? This flies in the face of the irrefutable laws of growing in the ministry!
Actually, it’s true. The Christian way of life, especially in the ministry, is usually upside down to the logical way of life in the world.
If you’re an assistant manager, you need to be successful so the district managers will give you the better job one day. As long as you are climbing that ladder to success, you have got to succeed quicker than anyone else.
In ministry, your job is to lose all ideas of self-success. You’re supposed to take the position God leads you to as the utmost position you could possibly hope for. You’re supposed to focus on it with pleasure that you have the opportunity to serve God in that capacity.
Ministry focus, as a Second Man, is not to be successful. It’s to make the one you are serving under successful.
- No job is unnecessary or beneath you.
Maybe you are mowing the lawn in 105 degree weather. Perhaps you are painting the outside of the church, with a brush, when the humidity is about to suffocate you. Maybe you’re cleaning the bathrooms because someone’s kid went crazy in there on Sunday morning and nobody found it until Tuesday.
In every situation like that, it’s easy to get distracted by your so-called qualifications. It’s easy, in light of your accomplishments and potential, to become annoyed at such chores.
According to Scott Graham, if you find yourself griping about having to work, realize that it was probably not much fun on Calvary too. Sure you could be inside sitting at the computer but you could be lost. I remember this statement, “you should be singing on the back of that mower!”
On a side note, don’t sing while mowing. It’s easy to get really loud and then people look at you like you’ve lost your mind. I’ve tried it, and it happens.
- Pick a wife that will help you rather than sit by waiting to be glamorous
Short and sweet from the tape, and my memory:
She may not be singing a special at General Conference, but honey, if she can pray… She may not be singing specials on Sunday, but if she is willing to clean the baptistry…
- Realize you are nothing without God.
- You may not get to travel to all the fancy conferences. You may have to stay home playing babysitter to the church while the pastor goes off networking with all of the preachers at the conferences.
- The pastor may have been blessed by God and driving a Lincoln, you better be happy with your Fiat.
- Realize, knowledge doesn’t do you any good if you don’t sharpen the sword.
Peter was with Jesus but he didn’t understand what was really going on. The Romans were fixing to take Jesus and Peter wasn’t mature enough to realize it was Jesus’ plan. So he took out a sword and tried to split the man down the middle. Instead, Peter caught the man’s ear.
It doesn’t matter how many degrees of theology you have hanging on your walls.
It doesn’t matter how many awards or pats on the back you got when you preached your favorite message.
If you aren’t sharpening the sword, and learning how to wield it, you will find yourself trying to reach people’s hearts, and only getting to their ears.
Then a old, grey-haired pastor can get up with his 8th grade education, and the Spirit of the Lord begins to move in the sanctuary. And you can turn all shades of green or get discouraged in your ministry.
Maybe you should concentrate on being the second man.
- Being a Second Man has benefits
There are tons of situations Bible College doesn’t prepare you for. Things that the professors couldn’t think up or imagine. Scenarios that are stranger than any fiction book. And they happen at church. The minister is the one who has to figure them out and find God’s will.
As a Second Man, you have the luxury of operating in the Spirit while having a safety net.
Many young ministers will get hurt, aggravated, or downright vengeful if a pastor ever pulls their coat tails or corrects them.
You should be thankful that your immature hotheadedness was check by the safety net before you crashed on the ground and destroyed yourself, your ministry, and maybe your family.