Team Series: Second In Command


Team Series:  The 2nd in Command by Gena McCown

One of the first tasks any good leader should do is to find, appoint, equip, and build up second in command.  A President has a Vice President, executives have junior executives, even Pastors have Associate Pastors or Elders they can call on.  Why is this an important role to fill on your ministry team? 

What if the Lord removed you from your Women’s Ministry right this second?  What would happen?

A family emergency takes you unexpectedly out of town.  One of your children become hospitalized.  Your spouse gets reassigned and you have to move this weekend.  You are threatened with a health crisis of your own.

Any number of things can happen that will unexpectedly pull us away from our ministry work, sometimes it is temporary and other times it is not.  Could your team function in your absence?  I’ve always felt the mark of a good leader is that their absence is not noticed. 

I have been on a team where this happened, and we were left scrambling.  It wasn’t that she was a bad leader, in many ways she was a great leader.  However, she had never taken any one under her wing to serve as a second in command.   When she left, we had a lot of plans on the calendars but none of us knew all the background info that she had been working on.   There we many decisions that needed to be made and a weight of uncertainty in the air.  Had there been someone working directly under her, who had knowledge of these details… it would have been a much easier process.

There are primary two ways you can work with a second in command, the first is similar to a hierarchy structure. This leader in training is kept up to date with the details of the ministry, but doesn’t have any more power than other members of the team.  You will walk them through the ropes of running the ministry, but you hold all executive power in the final decision making.  Their purpose is to be ready to take over the reigns of the ministry, should the time come.  

The second way is as a Co-Leader, this woman will have a bit more power/pull/weight to her opinion than other team members.  She may not have the ultimate say when it comes to the ministry decisions, but her opinion carries greater influence.  Her role is to slip in and out of leading the group as needed.  This is the woman who can fill in while the leader is on vacation, or take over for a matter of few months when a leader is going through a crisis.  In a large ministry, you may even have more than 1 co-leader and even give them particular team members that they oversee. 

In both cases the Women’s Ministry Leader is responsible for developing these future leaders to take over her job.  However in the case of a Leader in Training, this is your ace in your back pocket that you bring out only when you need to.  Whereas a Co-Leader has a far more active role in the ongoing ministry work.

A Second in Command Leader Should:

  • Have a heart for women’s ministry in the church and community.
  • Dedicated to the church, and exhibit a solid relationship with Christ.
  • She should be trainable, you don’t need a person with experience.
  • Dependable, showing up to meetings regularly and completes her tasks.
  • Shares ideas that will help the ministry function better.
  • Excited by serving others.

What She Should Know:

  • Keep her up to date on the ministry finances.
  • Location of important documents, passwords, keys, codes, etc.
  • Contact information and details associated with event planning.
  • Overview of information pertinent to the Women’s Ministry from staff meetings or the Pastor (only information pertinent to WM, please).
  • Access to team members contact information.
  • Overview of meeting agendas in advance, and what are her meeting responsibilities.

In the past, Women’s Ministry Leaders have created binders full of important ministry information that could be passed like a baton to incoming leaders.  Now, we can share documents online via google documents (if you have a gmail account).  This helps leaders stay connected, work and update tasks between meetings, etc.  If you are interested in starting a Women’s Ministry Binder… check out Pinterest for GREAT suggestions, printable worksheets, and more.

I love to see these developing leaders active versus people I siphon information into.  So, intermittently as part of training, allow her to completely lead a meeting from start to finish.  You can work her up to this by giving her small responsibilities and increasing them over time.  Give her a larger task to oversee, like planning a brunch or finding new small group leaders.  See if she has a passion for something to add into the ministry that you can put her at the helm, like a prayer ministry or mentoring program.

While it is great to have a second in command who has a similar ministry vision as you, it’s also great to bring someone along side you that has new ideas to bring to the table.  You may wish to strategically develop a younger woman, select a woman who is transitioning out of another ministry leadership role (previous MOPS Leaders are great for future Women’s Ministry Leaders), or you could find someone that just has a HUGE heart for women.  While experience isn’t necessary, their level of experience will determine how much time you need to spend developing their skills.

We can predict when a changing of the guard is going to happen, but when it is within our ability we should make sure this woman is fully ready to assume command of the ministry before we retire or voluntarily step down.  You can begin by steadily increasing her leadership, while culling your leadership back.  This also makes for an easier transition for your team members who have served loyally with you over the past years.  Give your team members advanced notice that you are planning to step down in a few months and that you are transitioning the new leader into place.  When they come to you with questions or concerns  funnel them toward the new leader instead of dealing with it yourself.  You are not only training a new leader, but the team to trust her leadership.

If you plan on still serving with the Women’s Ministry after stepping down form leadership, I recommend taking a few months off.  Allow the women to get accustomed to serving under the new leadership, and then ease yourself back in.  Leaders leave a legacy even when they don’t intend to, and it can take time for members to adjust to a different leadership style and new ideas.  Change is hard, even in ministry service.

Leadership Should Not Be Lonely


When you read through the scriptures, you will see that the leaders were hardly ever alone.  When Moses was called to lead, he had his brother by his side.  King David had people that he relied on for counsel.  Jesus had his disciples.  Paul had people who traveled with him, as well as leaders that he left behind in cities to lead the local church.  Paul wasn’t even alone in prison!  When the apostles would travel to share the gospel, they often set out in pairs or small numbers.  Plus, they always had each other lean back on, no matter where they were in the world. Advice was a letter away.  When it was time to tackle bigger subjects, they would meet together as a group to discuss the matters at hand.

It’s a common clichéd phrase in America to say that “it’s lonely at the top” or “leadership is lonely”.  As leaders we need to recognize that God never intended our leaders to be lonely.  In a previous article it was already mentioned the importance of having your own Timothy in place, someone you are developing as another leader or your eventual replacement.  However, this relationships are not meant to be superficial training grounds.  Those that we bring into our inner circle to develop as leaders will often help mold and shape our leadership too.  We learn just as much from their experiences as they do from our own.  Developing leaders will ask questions that we may have never considered on our own, or see things from a different perspective.

As much knowledge as I have about Women’s Ministry from experience coupled with books and research…

… I still don’t know everything. I have not encountered every possible scenario and even now I have some thoughts lingering in my head about how to handle certain circumstances should they arise.

Having a “Women’s Ministry Council” of leaders is part of how we can begin to fill those gaps in experience, knowledge, and wisdom.  Each leader is her own treasure trove of information to glean from.  Some WM Leaders are Pastor’s wives, who can give us insight to how Pastors view Women’s Ministry, or ministries in general.  They can give us an inside out view of the life of the Pastor in the church, the pressures he faces, and the parameters staff make decision within.

When we gather with other Women’s Ministry leaders, we have an opportunity to offer others our experience, and take in the experience of others.   As one leader just mentioned in our Facebook Group, we don’t need to reinvent a new wheel.  We just need help in finding the wheel that fits our group best.  We can pick and choose from the advice given and experiences shared, using those tidbits to shape our ministry’s future.  And, we can discard the things that don’t really apply to our needs.

We have a group of people whom we can share our successes with, and help them foster new ideas for their ministry.  And, we have a group of women who we can lean on for support when we are simply at a loss on how to grow our ministry.

Resources are more than books and websites, our best resources are the other leaders we are serving alongside with in our own communities.  Facebook groups and international websites have a lot to offer us in terms of general information.  However no one knows what it is like to serve THIS community, than those women who are in the trenches with you.

Every day, we gain more visitors to our website from other areas of the United States and beyond.  What we are doing here, in our South Florida location, is creating a program that we want to be duplicated in other regions.  By 2017, I am praying that all of our kinks have been worked out and that we will be able to put together a plan for Women’s Ministry Councils across the country.  Please keep our work in your prayers, that the Lord will guide this endeavor.  The blessing it has been for us, should not be contained to South Florida.

Women’s Ministry needs a leadership community!