Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Yes, the frequency of new posts has slowed down quite a bit lately. Frankly, I’ve been gasping for air.

Some of this gasping is self-inflicted. I like to keep my plate full and run as fast as possible. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave much capacity when the unexpected happens. Preparing materials for a second chair seminar this week, coaching two teams (the curse of overlapping basketball and softball seasons!), and some extra consulting and coaching are causing me to gasp right now.

Some of it is externally-driven. None of us, especially in the second chair, has complete control over our priorities and schedules. In this season, my first chair has become much more involved in the day-to-day and in reshaping priorities for all of the staff, and it’s consuming tremendous amounts of time and energy.

So what do I do in these seasons? I try to be sure and keep my early morning prayer time. In an earlier stage of life, that would have been the first thing to go, but I’ve learned how much I need that time with God. This week I’m giving thanks for a wife and family who extend grace to me when I get too busy for them. And I’m praying for my senior pastor, because God has helped me realize that his current actions are the result of a heavy burden that he is carrying.

I am also being much more careful with my calendar, trying to make time for the truly important things, and postponing those that can wait. When life is busy, I tend to crank up my pace, which has the downside of my being impatient or of people feeling like I have run over them. I’m trying to be careful about this. And in the midst of it all, I’m making sure that there is still some time for the things that help me relax – like watching some of the Winter Olympics or getting out for my regular pick-up basketball game.

I’ve prayed for this second chair community this week, because there’s been a sense that we’re all gasping lately. Likewise, I covet your prayers in this season.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Second Chair as Warrior! Is this Biblical?

I'll give you my take on this later, but I wanted to hear from you all in the Second Chair Community. Do you ever see yourself as the Warrior who is sent into battle to fight the fight for the first chair, to keep them from getting too messy? Give us some of the story, some context, what you learned about yourself, how you felt.

There are some Old Testament Themes in and around this concept. What about in the New Testament Church? Is the Second Chair a place that executes judgment when it comes to church discipline?

I don't have all my thoughts formed around this, and I don't know if I am alone in this thinking. All I know is that over time, I have been given some pretty rough assignments and sometimes I was executing the will of another as part of my role. Don't you just love the second chair?

Friday, February 10, 2006

When your chair cushion is worn out!!!

So here are my thoughts on all that we have been collectively enjoying this week. I believe that we in the second chair community have been hit pretty hard this week, and Sunday isn't even here yet! How about you?

So, what can we do when the chair cushion is worn out? How do we get it fluffy and comfortable again? Is that the right question to ask anyway.

I know this much. We can run to our Father for He knows what we need before we even ask of Him (Mt. 6:8). That is what I am going to do. May God bless you today as you lead from the second chair.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Juggling Balls and Spinning Plates

I had a great phone call today. I have started coaching a high potential second chair leader who is juggling too many balls and spinning too many plates. He is in an environment of expansive growth and his time is in high demand. The problem. . . . . . way too many balls and plates. Such that in a recent staff retreat, the bouncing balls and crashing plates became the focus of the "problems" in the organization. Don't you know he loved going home that night to his wife and expressing to her his frustration.

What happened? The organization grew! He was and is the go to guy so they went to him. Now he is overwhelmed and nearing burn out.

Try another anology-- traffic!

Have you ever been in a traffic jam when you rolled along at 5 miles per hour for twenty minutes? Have you ever thought, "Wow! There must be a bad wreck up there? What could be causing such a back up? I can't wait to see the mangled metal of this one!" To your surprise and disappointment, there was no such wreck. No, the construction crew chose not to post signs about road work and just started narrowing everyone to one lane. Going from three lanes to one in a moments notice isn't all that fun now is it? People get angry, frustrated, and can even get hurt.

This is what can happen if the second chair leader has to have his or her signature on everything. In this type of ministry traffic jam, leaders push initiatives up the line and wait for decisions and approvals. In their waiting, they get tired, angry, even frustrated. The second chair leader feels overwhelmed, under appreciated, and doesn't know how to clear away the bottle neck and traffic jam that is outside of his or her office door.

Sometimes this traffic jam is created by a staff member who isn't pulling their own weight. Other times, it happens because the second chair isn't comfortable giving power away.

My take: Life is too short to have to approve everything. I want to do only that which I can do and empower and inspect that which I am able to delegate and give away. To do this, I have got to be willing to deal with conflict, communicate effectively, and enlist and train other capable people. This too takes time but it will be very rewarding to both the organization and to the people the organization serves. Look for, enlist, train, and use your people. They are your greatest resource!

What do you do to keep the traffic from stacking up too much outside your office door?