Life is full of “aha” moments. Like those times when you wish everyone else could see you as a cartoon with the light bulb turning on over-top your head. And as a Christian, these are the moments I crave– the moments of clarity in my relationship with God and my interaction with the world around me. I love when the Holy Spirit brings new light to a situation. It’s that glorious moment when the truths of God infiltrate my brain and I realize things I could not access on my own. Whew! I’m excited just writing about it.
So why am I explaining all this? Because lately I’ve been working through a series of incredible “aha!” moments in both my personal and professional life. Most recently is something fairly new for my life… my role in the second chair.
Let me start by saying, I’m a strong-willed, stubborn, highly intelligent, strategic, futuristic, highly intuitive leader. You know what I mean. I tend to be right in most situations, and not just because I think I’m right. Does any of this sound compatible with a second chair role to you? And yet over the past 2 years, God’s been leading me to a place of submission, of learning, and of leading without being the key leader in charge. As I’ve transitioned over the past 6 months from Lead Pastor (or the only paid leader of a church) to Associate Pastor (with a fairly large staff), my biggest “aha” has been how to follow someone else’s vision without losing my identity as an innovative leader. Two instances set off my light bulb:
First, I had the opportunity to ask an “expert” one question for advice in my new appointment. So I said, what’s your best practices for an associate pastor? The answer: Make your senior pastor look good. Seriously? That’s it? As I thought longer, the circuit finally connected, the light bulb clicked on. As a part of the ministry team, that really is my role…
Everything I do and say should support and develop the ministry direction set by the senior pastor. My ministry revolves around grabbing my specific pieces of the plan and having them work well in the overall vision. This is why God placed me here in the first place, to do what I do well with a focused approach within the larger vision.
By the end of that conversation, my attitude changed. I really can do this for a long time, I can set aside my self and my goals for the overall goal of the church that’s not necessarily set by me.
Second, God led me through some reading and several Bible studies here at our church to a big final “aha”. It doesn’t matter what our title is or our place within the organizational structure. As Christians, our role in relation to God is always second chair. We’re following God’s vision, not our own. Whether we’re prophesying to Ninevites or confronting the Pharaoh or boldly healing in Jesus name or offering hospitality when we’d prefer to seek vengeance, God has a plan we wouldn’t consider choosing, even on our boldest days. Yet we choose it because we choose to serve the first chair and honor that authority.
It culminates for me into one big “aha”. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” We’re living out the path set out for us, trusting the result of the next bend in the road, trusting the destination that we did not choose, because we trust the designer of the path. Someone else is first and I am second both in my profession and my daily life. And for this headstrong gal to be ok with that is truly a miraculous “aha” moment.