Saturday, May 20, 2006

My Reward

"But I said, 'I have labored to no purpose;
I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
And my reward is with my God.'" (Isaiah 49:4)

This verse really struck me in my quiet time a couple of weeks ago. (I’ve had this post written in my mind since then, but haven’t had time to sit at the keyboard and get it in written form.) It struck me, of course, because I’m very success driven and because too often I derive my self-worth from “my” achievements.

I’ve had several conversations with one person who has been asking how to measure success as a second chair leader. This question recognizes the ambiguities of our roles. After all, children or youth or small group leaders often have tangible results, but a second chair leader is responsible for everything and nothing at the same time.

In these conversations, I’ve been reminded how much I like to measure progress and to be successful - growth in our congregation, people whose lives I’ve impacted, number of books sold! And then God points me back to Isaiah 49:4 and reminds me that these external benchmarks are not the true measure.

Well, there’s my confession. Are you content to trust in God for your reward, even if it seems that you’re laboring to no purpose? How have you dealt with this tension?


Clayton Bell said...

This has certainly been a stuggle for me at times. I look around and don't see alot of people that I'm personally mentoring or leading to the Lord, so I wonder if what I'm doing is the best thing for me to be doing.

But then I think about how my position allows to me to make it easier for other people to bear fruit, and I get really excited. Maybe I'm not catching fish, but I'm helping to make better nets so that other people can bring in a boatload of fish...

Which is to say that the second chair can be a tough place to find a measurement of success if we don't understand our role. I think it's important to know what you're called to in your situation, and then evaluate yourself by that. Don't look to the results of your first chair or the results of those you're leading; understand the place God's put YOU in, and flourish there. Know what you are and are NOT supposed to be doing, and find contentment in that.

And on a personal note, I beg for all of your prayers this week. I'm facilitating a roundtable of local church administrators in our movement, which is the first meeting of this kind, and I'm overwhelmed. I just pray that we honor God and help to advance His kingdom in what we're doing.

Jay said...

Someday's I wonder if I'm making a difference in the second chair. I think we all want to be encouraged, in fact, I need it. I'm a words of affirmation guy. I agree with Clayton that it helps to consider what you are doing enables the First Chair to prepare his sermon, or the worship leader to prepare for worship. Our role is so critical for the church to move forward and those roles are the ones that naturally recieve encouragement.

Mike, that verse is a great reminder to remember that God is our reason for doing what we do.

Clayton...go knock this one out of the park. Use your gift and we'll be praying for you this week.

Anonymous said...

This one really hits home with me! I have been going through sort of an "identity crisis" lately as my role continues to change. We're transitioning from the "Church with" to the "Church of Small Groups," and sometimes I'm not sure what my role is in all this? So, along with remembering "my reward" I've needed to remind myself that it doesn't matter what my role is, as long as God gets the glory. Thanks for this blog. Blessings!

larry coulter said...

I agree with the struggles of everyday life being - sometimes - overwhelming. Our work environment is truly unique in that we have created a true "team" environment where everyone's opinion and spiritual gifts are exercised daily. Our entire focus is the building of God's kingdom through our business.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we are all second chair leaders. While I am the person ultimately responsible, the titles don't mean anything because we realize that, without each other, the team is incomplete. Our "job" is two-fold; first - to raise a new company from inception and, second - to provide an environment where we are each free to exercise our spiritual gifts.

Some people say, "Don't look for results in the second chair position" but I disagree emphatically. As we grow in spiritual strength individually, we also grow as men in Christ. By allowing each other the freedom to grow in business and spiritually in a simultaneous fashion, God simply continues to pour His blessings over us in increasiing measure.

I realize most Second Chair members are in the ministry, but so are we in a different sense. We each have the freedom to leave work and do ministry through our church or on a personal basis. This personal freedom leads to a fuller "taking responsibility" attitude translating into a more positive work environment and closer walk with God.

It's not always perfect, but it's always about God! My job is to empower, encourage and inspire. One simple example ... today we disagreed on the new business cards format (I was the dissenting vote!!!) but the others believed their choice was best. Guess who won (they did). We then had a discussion about the teamwork of the Apostles as they raised the church under the Holy Spirit's leadership.

Do we all struggle from time to time? Resoundingly YES. Can we build together - us and God - a better world? Absolutely. God empowers us to make a difference. Always remember who we are, who called us and who we serve. Remember the words of a recently popular praise song; "Our God is an awesome God."

WarriorGirl said...

The Second Chair role is such a wide a varied one - that measuring success is almost impossible. I don't therefore look to tasks and functions as an indication of success, but to the people whose lives are changed and growing just by the very fact that you've input in some small or even large way into them. It is this that brings the biggest reward. Personal mentoring brings the biggest satisfaction, seeing people make decisions and growing in their faith, maturity and spirituality and in turn, doing the same for people that they too begin to mentor. That makes me smile and makes the whole job worthwhile.

I love clayton bell's analogy of the the nets & catching fish - that is really cool! And yes - we do have to remember that God is our reason. I believe He places us into the lives of others to help them achieve His plan for their lives.

Hope this makes sense.