Posted on : Sunday November 1, 2009
Bob Simpson, BCMD Associate Executive Director, Editor of BaptistLIFE

Bob Simpson

Bob Simpson, BCM/D Associate Executive Director/COO, Editor of BaptistLIFE

I meet with a group of peers from time to time just to fellowship and gain insight from them. They, like me, have the title “Associate” in some part of their professional job description. In a sense all of us are subordinate to someone. The Bible has many examples of strategic partnerships among leaders and subordinates. They include Moses and Aaron, Paul and Silas, and Mordecai and Esther to mention a few. These relationships rise and fall on the ability of the two leaders to figure out how the second chair leader can best be empowered to provide maximum influence while submitting and serving the main leader effectively in that relationship.

In contrast to the above Biblical examples, where leaders were ‘joined at the hip’ for purposes of Kingdom advancement, there are many examples in history where this “second chair” kind of relationship was difficult to forge. For example, it was a given for John Adams to succeed George Washington as president of the United States. After all, Adams had been the first vice-president of the country. But, unlike Washington, Adams was not a naturally great leader. He was a lawyer and an intellectual who made his greatest contribution before he became the vice-president. He devoted himself to the cause with fierce integrity and matching intensity to help the nation’s first president. He condemned the Stamp Act of 1765, was one of the first patriots to embrace the idea of independence, vigorously fought for the acceptance of the Declaration of Independence, and gained further distinction as he successfully represented the young nation in the courts of Europe.

But by the time of the nation’s first political election in 1798, Adams, respected but not popular, only received 34 of 69 votes. Subsequently, he spent the next eight years ‘leading from the second chair’ and continuously in the shadow of the ever popular and commanding figure of George Washington.

In their book entitled, Leading From The Second Chair, Mike Bonem & Roger Patterson define such leadership in five distinct bites: “A subordinate…whose influence…with others…adds value…throughout the organization.” Being number two is often misunderstood and regularly unrecognized. But it is a highly valuable factor in the success of most everything I can think of. It’s certainly true in business, non-profit organizations, in politics, in churches, and even in marriages.

All of us are subordinate to someone. That’s just the way life works. Even Jesus, though co-equal with the Father, submitted Himself in order to carry out the plan for our redemption. His example, as always, is one for us to emulate. Philippians 2 reminds us: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant…”

May God help us all, as we are “second chair” to someone, to do it with joy, humility, purpose and wisdom in order to add maximum value wherever our “chair” happens to be located!