Monday, April 10, 2006

What Does the First Chair Really Need From You?

So, here is a great conversation starter with your first chair. Buzz his assistant and find a time when you can block out 1.5 to 2 hours on their schedule. When the appointment arrives, go in with a pen, a pad of paper, thick skin, and this question on your lips: What do you really need from me?

What does your first chair really need? Do you know? Have you asked him or her? Can you list in bullet points what they really need for you to do? Does it change as the season or situation changes?

As you respond to this blog, throw in your two cents of what your list would look like if you had this conversation with your first chair. Take a stab at it and let those of us in the second chair community take a look as well. If you need to explain an answer, take your time and let us hear it. What would they say?

Then, I dare you -- have that conversation!!!!!

Roger P


Marie said...

This is going to be a great topic. I am going to spend some time thinking about it before I try to really answer it but I happened to be visiting here and couldn't leave without at least this comment!

DivaD said...

Interesting... I've asked the question before, whenever I sense the 'season' changing - and made an appt Friday for tomorrow... from 3-5pm to do just that.

Will let you know the results of this one in comparison to the last :o)

Clayton Bell said...

Roger, are you really going to attempt to have really-life application for us, to actually change?

Man, I thought this was going to just be a place that we could just vent. I didn't know that we'd have to SERVE or


Jeff said...

I just found this blog through Church Exec.
This is a very intersting topic. Especially for those of us who serve in a second chair position, but the Sr. Pastor isn't in the first chair. Rather a group of boards, committees and sub committees.
One of the toughest questions I have is the "So, what are you responsible for?" question. Generally the answer is "everything". But that doesn't address needs.
Going to think about this one....

Jay said...

Here we go, I'm going to jump into this one. By the way, Welcome to the Second Chair Community Jeff! We love to hear from new voices.

Sometime ago, I created a list of the top ten things I believed were my top responsibilities as the Associate Pastor, gave it to my pastor and let him tweek it. It was a great exercise. But those were responsibilities, ministry areas, Small Groups, Capital Campaign, Administration. I Roger is asking a different question.

I think my First Chair needs the following from me:

1. Someone who sees things before he does and acts on them.

2. Someone that backs the vision, promotes the vision, and works to protect the vision.

3. Someone who leads the staff effectively and handles issues quickly, fairly, before they become issues that effect the team.

4. Someone who serves.

5. Someone who responds quickly to his requests and doesn't leave loose ends.

6. Someone who is honest, committed, and strives for excellence.

7. Someone who doesn't hide information good or bad from him.

8. Someone who has his back at all times and is a co-laborer with him.

9. Someone who can understand his load, burden, and who lifts him up, like(Aaron/Hurr) who lifts up his arms.

10. Someone who is flexible and can handle change.

I'm sure I can think of more, but that's my list to start out with...anxious to here from you all!


Marie said...

Haven't had a chance to ask him yet but I think all these things would be on the list of what he needs most from me...

1. Grace - I need to be ready to extend it as often as needed - just as he so often extends it to me.

2. Patience - with my "right now..why not yesterday" personality...and his "when the time is right" personality we sometimes don't see eye to eye.

3. Prayer - perhaps this should be first on the list. I need to pray frequently for my first chair, his family and his ministry. This is one area I can really be a co-laborer in and yet not be stepping on any toes!

4. Truth - I need to always be ready to speak truth - which means I need to be able to recognize it and discern it and then speak it in a way that sheds light.

5. Integrity - he needs to know he can trust me.

6. Trusting of him - I, in turn, must trust him and be willing to listen, to be obedient, and to not question too much - sometimes just accepting there is much I do not know.

7. Flexibility - while never compromising on the mission or the vision I must be ready to change roles, direction or course quickly. As we have discussed before I am sometimes a friend, occasionally a confidant, always a subordinate. The growth we are experiencing as a church is new to all of us. He is always saying that we "are somewhere we have never been before". That means we are all seeking to find the right path and make the right choices and decisions - and sometimes that means we head down a wrong trail and have to backtrack or sometimes we take on too much...or too little.

8. Willing, servant attitude - I have to be willing to step up to the plate, or... sometimes clean the plate, move the plate, go around the plate...or sometimes offer the plate to someone else.

9. The best thing that I can offer my first chair is for me to have a close, living, relationship with God. I need to be sure that I am in the Word, listening to Him, learning from Him and living within His will. I need to be "girded" up everyday. It is invariably the times when I am "too busy" or too distracted or just too involved in something else and I step away from that all important time with God that I find myself messing up - in ministry, in relationships, in life. But if I keep "the most important thing" - God - the most important thing - if I SEEK FIRST the kingdom of God, and if I trust in the Lord with my heart, acknowledging Him in all my ways...everything else falls into place.

So..thats my list for now. Hope all is well with all of you!

DivaD said...

Okay - here goes.

This time, there are 2 very specific things that my first chair is needing from me (in addition to the long list of usual items that will follow):

1. Step up even more in leadership. I lead several teams and am currently having to deal with some pretty uncomfortable issues with some team members. At times, because of friendships with team members, or not wanting to hurt them badly, I may not be as straightforward with them as I need to be. I'll say what needs to be said, but not quite as clearly as I would in a different situation. (I'm prophecy motivated with a shepherd's heart... what an odd combination)

2. To have a conversation with one particular staff member - that tends to make my life a living... you get the picture. Although I don't see where it has borne any fruit in the past, things are slowly starting to move in a more positive, healthy, direction with our staff team, but this one issue continues to crop up... her being 'threatened' by me and my proximity to my first chair. She's vocal about it in some strange ways and is quite nasty with her words. (Although I heard him clearly on this one, I have let him know that I don't know that it will happen. I feel very strongly - and have verbalized it - that he is the only one who can make this 'issue' go away by putting his foot down when she becomes condescending, berating, and begins to speak with contempt. He is the one who can demand that it not happen because conversations have taken place in the past that have not shown any benefit and he has chosen to allow her to remain on staff, so it is his responsibility to make sure that she is a team player while working with other staff members. Just pray about this one...)

Okay - those 2 things specifically this time. In addition to those, the other things that we've discussed that my first chair needs specifically from me are:

* Loyalty.
* Encouragement.
* Belief in him.
* Respect for him - not positional respect because I have to, but respect for him, as a person.
* For me to be proactive.
* To be a filter for the negativity (and even the positive)
* Attention to detail.
* Quick solutions.
* Creative thinking.
* Truth and veracity with him at all times... even when it is painful truth.
* Trust
* Listening ear
* Prayer without ceasing - specifically for him
* Representation of his heart and his way of thinking... representing it well and accurately.

That's all that I can think of right now. I'm heading into a meeting with him :O).

Still prayin' for us all!!

BTW - Welcome Jeff!

Marie said...

Hey all....

Not to change the topic or anything...but I just took a big step and want to share it here. Yesterday I applied to attend Rockbridge Seminary online and get a Master's Degree in Ministry Leadership. Now, this is not a traditional seminary by any means...but I am not a traditional seminary candidate. It is basically set up by Saddleback I think and the entire curriculum is based on the Purpose Driven program. I did this because I feel that I need to know so much more in order to fill the role that I think God is calling me to in the future. I need to be better prepared. Exactly what role I will play in the future of my church (or another church) is not mine to decide...but being prepared for that role is up to me. I have been thinking and praying on this for quite some time - trying to decide which online program would be the best for me. I have to rush now...but would appreciate any prayers..or any comments/advice/thoughts from all of you.
Divad...hope that grandbaby is still doing well! and welcome to Jeff -

Jeff said...

After some more thought, I think one thing I can do is take a vacation. Sounds odd, but my first chair has been after me for that for some time. Last summer after a particularly difficult budget process, he "ordered" me to take two weeks. I took three days. My M.O. is usually a couple days or a long weekend here and there.
Since I came here in 1998 I have never been gone more than seven consecutive days and five consecutive days only one-wedding-MINE. Never been out of cell phone/email contact.
Everytime I do take off, I come back with a different perspective, new ideas and more productivity. But fall right back into the same mode.
I am currently praying about a two week mission trip to Thailand. No contact for two weeks. Yikes!
Whether I go or not, I bet the "workaholic" syndrome is rampant among us. I noticed the number of posts that looked like "just another check list". Do you think there is something there?

DivaD said...

Jeff - Not sure what you mean by "just another checklist" but a vacation... solitude time away... is always a good thing. My first chair is getting ready to take a week-long sabbatical (Apr 30) and is expecting me to take some days when he returns.

Marie - Ravenne is doing much better! Out of the NICU and staying with us once or twice a week (with her parents), which is a good thing for them... and for us, of course. They are young and need to make some decisions. We are praying that they will move closer to us because of the more positive/balanced spiritual 'climate' here versus the other locale choice.

As for pursuing your degree, this is something that my first chair and I discuss often. I have been in ministry for around 18 to 19 years and have never 'hurt' for a job in ministry. However, I don't have any type of degree that is ministry related. He doesn't feel that I "need" one as far as competency, training, etc. with regards to what I do here and now - or even the roles that are being added from day-to-day. I am a serious student of leadership and have been for years, and I've gained much through experiences (very unique, obviously God-ordained experiences), individual mentoring relationships, observations, and other training opportunities and venues.
However, he encourages me to 'further my education' in ministry in this way for several reasons...
1. Although I LOVE what I do here, I may not always BE here. God may release me to go somewhere else, or move our family somewhere else, and education and 'credentials' will help avoid having to re-prove myself in ministry with people that I don't know.
2. He knows that I hunger to learn more and more. I am a voracious reader and love to be challenged to learn/experience more.
3. He believes that I have the ability to do it, and do it well.
4. He knows that it would be good for me, knowing that I want to serve in vocational ministry, in some capacity, for all of my life.

Personally, the thought sometimes frightens me because although I know that I have a lot of experience and have learned a lot of things, and I know that I hear from the Holy Spirit and have a very intimate relationship with God (and He is the ultimate Teacher), sometimes my confidence in that wanes when 'put up against' someone with 'formal training' in ministry. When the rubber meets the road, I sometimes question whether I know what I know, and if I could succeed at ministry in someone else's eyes. More information than you asked for, I know. :o)

So... Marie, I think you have to know why you're doing it and be settled about it. Man will give you a lot of reasons why to, or why not to, pursue more 'education' in ministry. Ultimately, it's between you and God. He knows your motivation. He knows your heart. And, He knows your future and how it will be affected.

Speaking strictly from a personal perspective - way to go! Glean/learn everything that you can!


Marie said...

Jeff...I think you are probably very right about there being many "workaholics" here. And I think you are probably right on the money about needing a vacation. Taking some time to just breathe, stretch, relax and notice the rest of the world is a wonderful thing. "Emptying" yourself so that God can refill you is a very good thing.

And thanks Debra for your thoughts on my education question. I know I have learned and grown SO much in the past few years - without formal seminary training - but I do feel that I need a little more "foundational" stuff that I may not be disciplined enough to get on my own. I read constantly...usually two or three books at a time (think we should start a favorite book list here?)but naturally I choose what I like...maybe not always what I need? Also I feel the urge to get more exposure to more people, more thoughts, more points of view...expand my horizons I guess (another benefit to this site I might add).

So...I hope you all have a great Sunday. We are looking forward to a great week. My husband built a good-sized wooden bridge and it is right in front of the altar...crossing it leads you to the base of a large wooden cross that is always present but can be moved around. The sermon topic is the end of the service everyone will have the chance to "cross the bridge" - making a decision or even just rededicating themselves....(simliar to something Willow did in the past I know)..and then there is room behind the cross for anyone who chooses to pray with the pastor to do so in a little more private area. I worked on the graphics for the sermon (and I think some of them are pretty effective IMHO)...and the worship team has some great music and we are even starting before the service with a couple of them playing "Knocking on Heaven's Door". Fun!