Today I salute the Lieutenants of the world!! The “assistants”, the “second on commands”. It is one of the most complicated jobs out there. To be the Assistant Pastor, the Assistant Manager, the Vice President. You have to have everything that your leader has but don’t over-use it. A leader that doesn’t over lead. The highest ranking of the followers.
I have overlooked these positions for a very long time and lately they are what come to my mind most days. Think about it. The heads, the leaders, they are in charge. They are the buck stops here guys and gals. They run the most risk and have the most to gain. It is hard but it is exhilarating and pays the best. Everyone else is almost, along for the ride sometimes. They just either show up or they don’t. They just fill the seat or collect the check or do what they are told…but #2, he or she is running a risk too. There just isn’t quite as much to gain from it.
I have spent a lot of time lately watching #2s. I have thought long and hard about them. Many people that I watched go through their #2 stage, taught me a lot. This is often where the skills are honed and developed to be a #1. The guys that are great at being #2, #3 and #4 are often times prime candidate to be excellent #1s. The folks that spend all of their time at #2, #3 or #4 just chomping at the bit so much to be #1 that they rarely develop all of the skills and attributes necessary to survive up there…Well, those are train wrecks waiting to happen sometimes.
Being part of the crowd has it’s share of difficulties and being at the top definitely has it’s heavy load, but I have just been pondering lately about watching those secondary leaders. Often times, that is where we pick our best leaders from.
I know a young Pastor right now that some might have questioned his leadership skills when a church began to look at voting him in. I didn’t. He once worked directly under me. He was more honest, more diligent, more on time, harder working, quicker thinking than almost anyone that I had ever met. When he worked in our business, he seemed to care as much or more about our things, our products, our property and our money as we did. When he worked in our ministry, he was so prayerful, careful and spiritual about it. And it didn’t matter if he was sweeping the warehouse, carrying chairs, preaching a sermon or checking on the elderly…He did every one of them with sincerity, accuracy and a sense of urgency. Nope, I didn’t have any doubt. He had the right character. Things mattered to him…whether anyone was watching or not.
He quickly moved up and on. I did not promote him. God did! Watch these types of 2nds. They are going places. They are going to be accomplishing things. They are going to be IN CHARGE of things.
They are the exact opposites of those that won’t give it their all until it “really counts”. There are plenty of those.
I remember when my wife and I got married and I dropped out of college. I desperately needed a job. And not just a job. I needed a good job. We had our first son that first year and we were still living at my dad’s house. But the only jobs that I could get were very low paying entry level jobs. I wasn’t educated enough to earn what I needed to. I was 19 years old and I spoke with a teacher and mentor of mine. He said, “Todd, take the first job you get and show them what you can do. They’ll catch on.” I applied at the grocery store down the street. They hired me immediately and made me a box boy. My job was to stock shelves and carry people’s groceries out. There were 7 box boys. They all worked there before me. I was a box boy for ONE DAY. The second day they trained me to be a cashier and gave me a raise. There were 9 cashiers. I was a cashier for about TWO WEEKS. After two weeks they trained me to be the backup night manager and gave me another raise. I was the backup night manager for a few months. The grocery store from the next town over needed a THIRD MAN (most grocery stores have three or four managers. This one was supposed to have three and only had two). They came and moved me over and gave me a BIG RAISE. At this point I probably hadn’t even been working for the company for anywhere near a year. Perhaps 7 or 8 months. I worked for that store for a couple years and the manager gave me several raises and then came to me one day and said that I should move on. That I was worth more than they could pay me. I stayed and learned all that I could and when I eventually left because of outside circumstances, I had to take another bottom of the rung low paying job in a different town.
Once again, I moved up several times very quickly, passing all of the people that worked there before I came and ended up getting my own retail store. Now I was #1. But something happened. Something that happens a lot. Something that I am ashamed of. Once I arrived, that was it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I worked hard, treated their money like mine and all of that. But I had many opportunities there and other places to search out, bring in and raise up some really good #2s that would eventually, somewhere, make excellent #1s. Like others did for me…and I didn’t.
I’m really not sure where I am going with this right now except I just felt like I needed to get it off my chest. A few things I have learned. The best #2s generally make the best #1s. Some times a #2 is always going to be the best #2. If they move up and out, they don’t do as good and the organization that they moved from, suffers and realizes how important that #2 was. #2s, as a general rule, should watch their #1s. If he came from a #2 spot, he may very well be able to help you and train you and possibly even know when you are ready before you do. But regardless, some #2s come up under horrible #1s. It doesn’t matter. Life has a way of sorting out the best workers for the best positions. And there are so many things to garner from all of this. For example, sometimes it is far better to be #2 over something big and accomplishing than just go be #1 over some little something that will never amount to much.
The truth is, this entire thought process can be boiled down to this: You are not all of a sudden going to become diligent, hard working, honest and sincere when you get put into leadership. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, do it like you are running a fortune 500 company or like you are leading the largest ministry in your state or you are Pastoring the most important church in your county. God sees and that is ultimately what matters. But…sometimes…some of us see too. And sometimes God uses some of us to move you up.
As a captain over many, I humbly salute all the lieutenants that I encounter on a regular basis. Those in our ministries, those in our company, those at my home church and at all the other churches that we attend and minister at, those that we deal with in other companies…I see you and I appreciate your efforts.
And I have decided that my lot in life wasn’t just to become the top man of several companies and ministries. MY job is to search out, equip, help and promote many others into key positions that fulfil their God ordained destiny. And then someday I will sit back and watch a bunch of you go farther, faster than I ever could and I’ll take a sip of coffee and say, “I’m thrilled to have had a little something to do with that.” Then I’ll say, “Mmmmm, this is good coffee!”
Your humble servant,
Rev. D. Todd Sloggett