Sure, if you are breathing, your pastor wants you to be part of the church. If you have half a brain and even a somewhat functioning body, your pastor wants to put you to work in the ministry of the church. But when it comes to having a "second man," there are certain qualities he is looking for. If you are going to be a second man, you are going to be the guy your pastor has to rely on to care for things when he is absent. You are going to be the guy your pastor is comfortable leaving around new members and visitors without the fear that they may be scared away after they meet you. He's going to have a lot of expectations, desires, and needs that cannot be met by the average church member. How do you know if you are the man for the job?
You may think that pastors are looking for handymen, talented musicians, dynamic speakers, great organizers, financial accountants...and a whole list of skills and qualifications. Sure, some of those things will be helpful to fill particular roles, but actually, you may be a little surprised at what pastors are really looking for in a second man.
I recently had the opportunity to talk about this subject in a 3-way conference call with a couple pastors I went to Bible college with--Steve Messer (currently pastoring Bethany Baptist Church in Los Vegas, Nevada) and Caleb Shipman (currently pastoring Gospel Light Baptist Church in Mineral Wells, TX). Both of these men started the churches they are pastoring, and both of the churches have grown to a point of needing to hire a second man. They have been through the process before, made some mistakes, researched the subject thoroughly in order to prevent future mistakes, and have come up with some good guidelines for their own personal process of hiring a second man. For this reason, I felt it would be very beneficial to pick their brains about what they are looking for in a second man. To be honest, I realized by the end of the conversation that many of the traits they are looking for cannot really be taught.
As usual for Pastor Steve, when it comes to conversations such as these, he was excited and eager to share with me some principles he has learned through both study and experience. He shared with me a rule, used both in the business world and in church ministry, that has been very helpful to him. As I understand it, that rule originally comes from Bill Hybel's Courageous Leadership, and that is the rule of the "three Cs": Competence, Character, and Chemistry. A pastor could bring an assistant on staff who has any two of these, yet lacking in the other, and that man will probably fail miserably at meeting the pastor's expectations. There are many good books and other resources out there that can explain this principle and others like it, so I won't attempt to elaborate here.
Pastor Caleb physically had in front of him some of the actual material he has used in his own recent hiring process (I'm so thankful for the effort and time both of these men were so willing to invest). It was very insightful to hear questions that were asked and qualities he had looked for in his second man. I never had to go through such a process as I was already pretty well known by my pastor, who is my father-in-law (I have often joked that he didn't really want me as his second man, he just wanted his daughter and his grandkids), before he asked me to prayerfully consider coming to work here. As I listened to Pastor Caleb share some details regarding his basic hiring process, I began asking myself if I truly was qualified for a second man position and if I indeed met those qualifications for my pastor. I decided that whether I am qualified or not in my pastor's opinion, I had much to work on in order to better meet his needs and the needs of the church.
In the rest of this post, I want to simply give a list of some of what I feel to be the most important qualities and characteristics that pastor's are looking for in a second man. These are not necessarily in order, and they don't need a lot of explanation. I just ask that every reader will take a moment to consider how well they measure up in each of these areas. Whether you are a second man or preparing to become one, we can all apply these principles to our own lives:
- Humility and Teachability--If you don't know how to do something, at least you will be willing to learn.
- A Sincere Desire for the Lord and His Work--If the ministry is just a job to you, you won't make it as a second man!
- Loyalty and Trustworthiness--The pastor has to know you are going to be on his side.
- Friendliness and Respectability--Plain and simple, people will be happier to have you around!
- Temperance and Self-Control--If you can't control your actions and behaviors you will become a burden and an embarrassment to your pastor and the church.
- Hard Working and Self-Motivated--You are needed there because of what you can do. If you show up late, sit around doing nothing of value, leave early...what are you there for?!
I'm not really sure if people who are lacking in these areas actually know they are lacking or not. I would also suspect that many of us who think we are doing fine in these areas would be surprised to know how others think we measure up. Regardless, we all can work at being better in each of these areas. And as we improve in these areas, we will be able to accomplish so much more for our pastors and our churches (more importantly, for our Lord).
May your passion for ministry grow as you "addict yourself" to it (1 Corinthians 16:15).
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