I am Second
By Bianca Olthoff
The Father’s House OC (Anaheim, CA)
I am second. No, it’s not religious humility or self-deprecation. I’m literally second. I am a second born twin in the shared role of first child. I am the second wife to my husband. I’m the second mother to my kids. And up until our new church launch, I was second on all executive teams I sat on. I am second. Quotes like, “Either you’re first or you’re nothing,” and, “Second is the first place loser,” reinforce the belief that secondary and subsidiary roles are insignificant.
They aren’t. In fact, they are needed. In life, liberty, and the pursuit of Jesus, you can’t lead if you don’t know how to follow.
In the business world, church life, or home domain, leadership can be identified by focusing on certain skills or characteristics by people leading in front. But if leadership is influencing people, we each have a powerful role to play as we mobilize and influence people in all spheres of our life.
Being second doesn’t mean I abdicate my responsibilities or influence because I am not leading at the front or making the final decision. Leading as second means we harness the collective power of the team to support the main vision or objective, whether that is in your family, church, or boardroom.
We launched our church with the clear decision that my husband and I would co-lead the church. But we intentionally acknowledged areas where I should take the lead and areas that he should take the lead. For example, I couldn’t stick to our launch budget to save my life, so Matt managed the finances. (My idea of budgeting was buying the biggest, brightest, and best and praying Jesus would provide a miracle! Fix it Jesus!) When it came to marketing, storytelling, and social media, he knew I was better suited and let me run full force. Just because you aren’t first, doesn’t mean your voice as second doesn’t count.
If we—admins, interns, volunteers, and spouses—understand that we are contributing to something larger than just ourselves, it calibrates our heart and attitude. We cultivate purpose, values, and mission when we move together and willingly submit to the collective whole.
Leading second is purposeful, not accidental. We step intentionally into our role in domestic decisions, boardroom policies, or academic pursuits. We lead purposefully,not accidentally.
Leading second is collaborative and cooperative. Our families, teams, and coworkers must lean in an build the collective vision, instead of building individual agendas.
Leading second is not abdicating our responsibility because of our position or title. You may never get the recognition, but you get to speak into the vision and further the mission.
Leading second is not passive. Whether you are an intern, student, pastor’s wife, or new hire, you are part of the decision making process whether you want to be or not. You might not have the biggest vote or loudest voice, but don’t sit idly by and watch the vision happen; you make it happen.
Leading second is not an excuse to do little because you are new, shy, or don’t have a corner office. Laziness and inattention are by-products of people who don’t see their value or care to change.
Ultimately, we are all second. Paul, an apostle, and an amazing leader summed it up best, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 11:1). We are all second to the One, followers to the greatest leader of all. When you learn to carry the vision, you will learn to lead the vision. But you need to be willing to learn, listen, and lean into being second. Learning to follow will prepare you to lead.
Bianca and Matt Olthoff are the pastors of The Father’s House OC in Anaheim, CA launched Sept. 9, 2018. To learn more visit tfhoc.org.