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A second-in-command is vital to a ministry?s survival. It?ll help you avoid burnout and create more stable leadership. But how do you practically train a ?right hand man??

As the lighting designer at my church, I?ve spent a considerable amount of time training an associate lighting designer. Someone who, if I need extra help or simply need a break, could take over and run the show for me. I?m going to share the ways I?ve trained my associate to be able to lead the ministry when I?m out of touch.

1. Teach him or her everything you know.

An easy way to develop someone to be able to help you do what you do is to teach them all you know. You?re qualified in your position. Pass on your experience. Pass on your knowledge. Let them absorb it all.

I?ve taught my associate everything I know and I also encourage her to learn more on her own. I challenge her to know more than I do. I talk about things that worked for me and what didn?t. I even share the mistakes I?ve made. She knows all the things I learned.

This doesn?t necessarily mean your associate will follow your footsteps or do what you would do, but your knowledge will be something very valuable to them.

2. Let him or her shadow you.

Walk them through every step of what you do. Have them attend as many staff meetings as possible. Make sure they are introduced to leadership as well. Make sure your team is aware of their projected path of leadership and status.

Nia follows me in every area of my lighting world. She knows what I do and, if I need her to step in for me, she?ll easily be able to, simply because she?s familiar with the process. That?s the goal. Make sure they know what it takes. They may not do it all; but they could. That?s a great safety net.

3. Be their second-in-command.

One way to develop a second-in-command is to actually be a second in command to them. Have them do your job fairly often while you assist. One example from training my associate is this: Our children?s ministry had what you can call a celebratory service for all of the kids. I tasked Nia with designing the room. In an interesting twist, I actually didn?t quite agree with her design, but I put her in charge. That was her vision. In the end, her design received a ton of positive feedback.

That?s the thing. Be willing to trust your second-in-command. Even if you don?t agree with their vision, you can still trust their process. At the same time, let them fail. Let them experience that so that they can grow in areas of troubleshooting, adjusting, and overall perspective.[quote]Be willing to trust your second-in-command. Even if you don?t agree with their vision, you can still trust their process.[/quote]

4. Let them get to know you, and vice versa.

One of the things about me and Nia is we have a lot in common outside of lighting and it helps establish a bond. Over the years, I?ve made it a priority to simply talk to her about her everyday life.

Getting to know your second-in-command on that level is going to help you better prepare and lead that person simply because you are aware of not only what the person is capable of, but also who they are. Take care to examine their spiritual maturity and life because, with any church ministry, that?s a crucial element.

Whether it?s lunch, or chatting in between services, I make it my business to know what?s going on with Nia. How is the family? How was school? We?re over a decade apart and still have a close bond. We have had our rounds of disagreements and worse, but that relationship factor keeps everything intact. It?s so important to establish that early on because it builds a level of trust needed. Besides ability, if you?re like me, you need trust in your second-in-command.[quote]You need trust in your second-in-command.[/quote]

5. Give them parts of the ministry to run.

One of the things I typically do is hand Nia special projects for her to complete for the lighting ministry. One big one is an expansion of our ministry where we formed an all kids ministry. We actually trained kids in the children?s ministry to do lighting! And I made Nia the lead designer for that crew.

What this does is put her in a special place of doing my job on a smaller scale. Nia now has to do what I typically do with the big crew. She has to make those tough decisions.

You may not have the room or need to expand your ministry, but you can still hand things over to your second-in-command. By things, I should say mainly people. Do you have two services? Put yourself in charge of one and them for the other. Is the team really big? Perhaps hand them half of the crew for them to manage.

By putting your second-in-command in a similar position as yours, but without the major pressure you deal with, they have the chance to shine.

So those are five ways to train your second-in-command. Put some effort into training a right-hand, and you?ll see the benefits it brings to your ministry.

What would you add to the list?

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