Ted Inman, Assistant Pastor at Southwest Baptist Church in OKC, OK
(picture taken from church website)
From the moment I first envisioned this ministry, my mind has often gone to a certain man I know could (and probably should) write a book (a really thick book) on being a second man. Ted Inman, assistant pastor at Southwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, is a man I had the privilege to watch for several years while I was in Oklahoma City. He was always "down to earth" and made communication seem so easy, whether it was a finance meeting, a teacher's meeting, or a meeting to prepare workers for an upcoming Vacation Bible School. He always communicated in a way that left everyone smiling if not laughing hysterically, yet we all left knowing exactly what was expected of us by the pastor and leadership of the church.
So, while this ministry is still at its infantile stage, I felt an urgent need to try to get Brother Ted on board with this ministry. I wouldn’t say he is ready to move into my basement (if I had one) or anything, but I felt like he clearly expressed to me that this endeavor is both one that is much needed, and one that seems to be headed in the right direction (I mean, after all, I did come to him first for an interview). I asked his permission to include him in future interviews, recordings, and such, and he was more than willing to be involved, to which I am very appreciative and very exited (He may one day regret agreeing to that!).
Brother Ted has been on staff at SWBC for 24 years, having previously worked about 8 years in Christian education, music ministries, and youth ministries in Missouri and Texas. At SWBC he began working with youth and slowly began taking on more ministries. Working for over 3 decades as a “second man” may not have been anything he dreamed God would have for him when he first went off to Bible college in Springfield, Missouri in the 80's, but it doesn't appear he has ever regretted it or wanted to do anything more. He confirmed the feeling I get from time to time when I watch people I went to school with graduate and become pastor's and missionaries. Sometimes it is thought of as if they have reached their goals and succeeded in becoming what they went to Bible college to become, while the second man is...well...still the "second" man. If anyone has taught me that being a second man is nothing to be ashamed of, it is Bro. Ted.
I remember when Sam Davison announced that he would be retiring from the pastorate at SWBC. Many assumed Brother Ted would be the pastor, or at least they seemed to think that if he didn't become the pastor it would be a matter of contention. He knew what was needed to run the church (in many ways he was already running it). He was respected by the members, a great preacher and communicator... it made sense for him to become the pastor.
I wish I had a copy of the message Brother Ted preached after the announcement was made that Jason Gaddis would be the next pastor. Brother Ted expressed how ready he was to get behind him and be the same second man he had always been. He inspired all of us to want to do the same! Honestly, anyone who thought that there was any type of dishonor toward Brother Ted because he did not become the next pastor was no doubt ashamed of themselves that day. So many seem to think that every second man is waiting in line for his chance at being pastor. The truth is, those who are called to be pastors need men who are called to be second men, and that position is just as valuable, if not more so (in many ways), than that of a pastor.
In our interview, Brother Ted pointed out that being a second man can be a learning process that can help someone in future ministry, but it should never be considered a "stepping stone." If you are a second man, be the second man! Don't try to use the position as a way to advance to a more "recognized" position.
We talked about how hard it is for pastors to find good second men. Bro. Ted shared about the conductor that was asked what was the hardest role to fill in the orchestra. The conductor said it was that of the second fiddle. "Everyone wants to be the first fiddle," he said. That is so true in ministry.
As Brother Ted pointed out in our interview, a second man must be an "Aaron to Moses." If you recall in the story, Aaron was given the job of being the spokesperson to Pharaoh and to the Hebrew people because Moses decided he was not able to sufficiently do the job. Apparently, just about every time we read about Moses saying something, it was actually said through Aaron, but Aaron gets no credit. In many ways, I have learned that the position of a second man is much like that of a janitor or maintenance man. People don't typically notice what they do, they notice only what they don't do! It is humbling at times, and it teaches you not to look for credit for everything you do. That is where we all should be as Christians. He (Jesus) must increase, and we must decrease.
I was so glad I had a chance to talk with Brother Ted about this ministry and the role of the second man. It has motivated me even more to follow through with this cause. We need more men who are addicted to the ministry. We need second men who will be second men and not strive to exalt themselves. We need people who will be better leaders by being better followers. We need more men in ministry like Brother Ted.
May your passion for ministry grow as you "addict yourself" to it (1 Corinthians 16:15).
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