Team Series: Second In Command

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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.

Wednesday Devotion: Serving with Knowledge

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Serving with Knowledge, Gena McCown

Proverbs 1:1-7

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
For learning what wisdom and discipline are;
for understanding insightful sayings;
for receiving wise instruction
in righteousness, justice, and integrity;
for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced,[a]
knowledge and discretion to a young man
a wise man will listen and increase his learning,
and a discerning man will obtain guidance
for understanding a proverb or a parable,[b]
the words of the wise, and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord
is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and discipline.

“For Christian leaders, this truth goes much deeper: to be effective in your actions of leadership, you must first and foremost have a personal and in-depth knowledge of God and His Word.  Your knowledge of His truth is more important than anything else in your preparation.”  ~ Jeff McMaster

When we step up into leadership, we are taking on an awesome responsibility.  People are going to look to us for answers, but we are also going to be watched by our critics.  It is important for Christian Leaders to have knowledge about a few key elements.  Christian leaders need to have knowledge about communication with people, knowledge of requirements of their position, and most importantly the knowledge of the Lord.

To know God’s will for the ministry you serve on, or for your role as leader, we must begin first in His Word.  We meditate on the scriptures so that we know more of God, we also look at how those scriptures address the calling God put on our life.  Learning from the scriptures is not a one time event, but a life long pursuit of studying to gain further knowledge.

As we come to a deeper knowledge of His Word, we will begin to see how the great leaders of Bible history are described.  We can learn from their successes and mistakes to shape the leader we are going to become.  By continually learning, we are continually being refined in our role as leader.  As the love of the Lord is revealed in the scriptures we learn more about how we should treat our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as those who are our enemies.

Additionally, the more we know about the scriptures will shape our integrity as a leader.  We learn that we do not need to have all the answers, or be perfect.  Knowledge is freedom, because it reminds us that we are still a work in progress that is being perfected over time.  Our knowledge will help others trust us.  We are also put into a position to witness to people just through the way we live our day to day lives.

There are many great books out there on leadership skills and qualities.  There are books on how to run an effective ministry, plan a retreat, and fundraise.  We have been gifted resources all over the internet to help us learn more about the on the job skills required of being a ministry leader.

The best book to start in is, The Bible.    Be a student of The Word.  This doesn’t mean that you have to memorize every scripture in the Old and New Testament, but rather you have a familiarity with the scriptures.  This familiarity is what will help you when someone comes to you for advice or information, because even if you don’t know the appropriate scriptures off the top of your head… you know where to begin your search.  Knowing the scriptures will also help you identify sin in your life, or errors you may be making as leader.

There was a short time in my leadership history that wasn’t so pretty.  I had allowed myself to get caught up in gossip, but I was unable to recognize it as such.  The context of the conversations didn’t seem like gossip, nothing being said was untrue, and we were all serving together.  I was reading the scriptures one night, and there it was in flashing neon lights.  My sin was revealed in His Word.  Once I was able to see it, I was able to address it.   The scriptures not only showed my sin, but I was also directed on how to address it.

I would encourage you add to your knowledge bank by beginning to look through the scriptures for leadership qualities, and weigh yourself against them.  Where can you improve, pray for discernment, and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you.  Pray also that the Lord would keep this knowledge rooted in a spirit to serve others.  Otherwise we risk falling into pride, or becoming academic and sacrificing relationship for more knowledge.

Pray for God to reveal mentors or accountability partners that can help you walk through your journey as a leader.