May 8th, 2014

4 Frustrations of 1st Chair Leadership (Post Two)

photo 2This post concludes a series on 4 Frustrations of 1st Chair Leadership. If you missed the first post, please visit

Frustration #3: Independence Surfacing in Unfocused Ministries

This third frustration is the natural outcome of one and two. When you have an unclear vision and reactionary leadership, you lack a long-term committed strategy. Every need creates its own independent strategy. This innately creates its own system of measurement. Success is now measured by how many people we have participating in an event or how few rumblings we are hearing. The measurement of long-term discipleship has been effectively removed from the conversation.

It is extremely important that staffs have a unified and consistent method of measuring success. We tend to default to attendance and giving. While these are two important indicators, they are not equal to transformative discipleship. For example, if a staff has a clearly defined target for the year of discipling people in small groups to live their lives as missionaries in their city, this implicitly has a ton of strategy work to direct and hold the staff accountable. There will be needs in worship, communication, leadership training, curriculum development, age appropriateness, resource allotment and much more.

Second chair staff long for such clarity that they can sink their teeth into over the long haul. They like to lead a process, develop the details, strengthen the organization, and see lasting results. A clear direction like this also makes the “no” to the next new idea or fire burning solution a lot easier. 1st chair leaders tend to be impatient, competitive, and enamored by the new thing. 2nd chair leaders like the focus and process.

Frustration #4: Negativity from Missing Celebration

Okay this isn’t just a 1st chair issue, but a society issue. However, 1st chair leaders set the pace and can be the game changer. Life is fast and we are always rushing to the next assignment. Every weekend needs a ton of programming in today’s modern church and events are getting bigger and bigger.

However, we meet together ever week to plan and actually celebrate in worship. We are gathering consistently in both small and large settings. Taking the time to celebrate is an opportunity we have, but rarely properly engage. Driving to the next thing will ultimately lead to relational tension and empty spirits.

What does celebration produce? It starts with a really good feeling. There is nothing wrong with this. Life certainly produces a daily dose of not really good feelings. We just don’t get in our cars, sit in traffic, arrive at work, run errands, or shop at stores in an atmosphere of unbridled celebration. It just doesn’t happen. Can you imagine how distinctly powerful it would be if your work environment, weekend services, small groups, and leadership events where first prioritized to celebrate? It would be such a powerful contrast to what people experience every day.

This value of celebration brings glory to God, enhances worship, opens people to discipleship, and reveals how God is glorified by what we do. It directs meeting agendas, sets an incredibly positive tone, makes people expectant, engaged, and empowered to invite. I think church culture could really benefit from prioritizing celebration.

It begins with just a great emotional experience however it produces so much more. Choose to create an atmosphere where people love to come to work, show up to staff meeting, and fulfill their mission with passion.

Here are some practical takeaways to help you address these common frustrations:

1. Ask your staff to write their version of your church’s vision in their own words. (They may have some statement memorized, but it would be good for you and them to process it with a new language to make sure it is clear and transferable.)

2. Create a team of key lay leaders and staff which regularly meets to provide honest feedback, direction, and to be a sounding board.

3. Create a yearly milestone that is tied to your vision that can hold you accountable and provide you with an easy “no” to a new idea. It will also give you the platform to hold your staff accountable.

4. Create a list of ways you can celebrate every single week in your staff meeting and worship setting.

By the way, your 2nd chair leader asked me if I could help you learn to create less ideas, don’t be so confident in what you know, involve them in the decision making process, and listen a little more. I told them you were working on it and to be patient. You may want to forward them my blog on Frustrations of 2nd Chair Leadership that can be found at


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