Going Second

Going Second

August 23, 2010 by

About a year or so ago, I read a quote from popular author and marketing guru, Seth Godin (a leader I greatly admire I might add), as it relates to the need for more entrepreneurs to become proactive concerning the services they seek to provide others with:

“In my experience, much of marketing is a game of waiting on the other guy to go first. Well, if nothing happens, you go first.”

While the ‘other guy’ Seth was referring to in this case was that company or organization that serves as a leading competitor for any entrepreneur seeking to excel in a particular arena, this small bit of advice can be (at times) extremely dangerous for some of us to act on who serve as marketing and communication leaders within our local church.

Especially without wise counsel.

Now I realize some of you reading this have the sudden urge to run and gather up a few of your fellow buddies (you know, the ones you can’t wait to wake up each morning and discuss the incredible mysteries God is unveiling through Seth and his blog) and label me as a marketing heretic. But before you do, allow me to explain.

Following Our Leaders
What happens when ‘the other guy’ you’re waiting on to go first, is the one you work for? Or more specifically, what do you do when ‘the other guy’ is actually your pastor, or ministry department leader?

As church marketing and communication leaders, especially those of us who are on staff at our churches, God has given us all a special gift; a gift I fear many leaders today are no longer interested in opening and embracing.

We have been given the wonderful gift of going second.

God has enabled us with the vision and creative ability to provide clarity and relevance to the voices of those in our church He has appointed to go first.

We have been given the awesome privilege (and burden) to ensure that through our art, nothing our church or pastor tries to communicate from the altar is lost in translation when it reaches the porch. No matter how wide the gap.

Following Faulty Leaders
Now trust me. For those of you reading this today who are struggling with having to always come second in what seems to be a broken system created and enforced by your pastor or department leader, I feel your pain.

Nothing can be more aggravating then to serve in a role that is restricted to simply advertising a product or service your pastor desires to sell, rather than to assist in the actual creation and implementation of that product or service.

Spending every week at the office fulfilling last minute flyer and video requests, unable to ask the whats, whys, and hows of those you serve under, can cause the most dedicated among us to one day face the following questions:

  • Should I find a different church to work at/for?
  • Should I quit working in ministry altogether and focus on more secular marketing arenas?
  • Is it time for me to start my own marketing business or coaching network?

Whether or not God may be leading some of you today to answer one of the above questions with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’—I am confident that your ability to answer correctly is deeply rooted in how you have (first) embraced having to go second.

Creativity & Humility
Remember this: some of the most creative voices we have leading the church today , were once only echoes; echoes that discovered this one immeasurable truth: When our creativity is married with our humility, incredible things can happen.

So before choosing to go first, be sure you have indeed learned the value of going second.

Post By:

Milan Ford

A leader and a survivor of ministry within the local church for most of his life, Milan Ford is the author of 83 Things I Wish The Black Church Would Stop Doing, and currently serves as the director of marketing and communications for StreamingFaith.com, one of the largest online Christian communities in the world. A devoted husband and father of three, you can find Milan rambling and writing at ThePewView.com.
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8 Responses to “Going Second”

  • Stephanie "InPraize" Carter
    August 23, 2010

    Wonderful. I believe that one of the issues churches are struggling with is that everybody wants to be first. Our Bishop is currently teaching a series called, Every Church Needs Help, but the right kind!

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  • Daphne lawson
    August 23, 2010

    This give everyone in a secondary leadership position the chance to search introspectivly to determine why they are wanting to be first. Is it because God has called them to a new platform, or could they be trying to steal what belongs to God – the glory???? Bless you Bro Milan. I’m glad to see you expanding your web presence. I don’t see you featured often enough on streamingfaith.com!!!

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  • Marques Vance Pedescleaux
    August 23, 2010

    This is very important lesson in serving or being employed! I have experienced the awful of being first before being developed so I can be the great second!
    On point and on time, I wish more servant leaders adopted this approach!

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  • eDDie Velez
    August 23, 2010

    Good stuff Milan!

    Most baseball teams pay big bucks for a great lead off hitter who will yield a high on base percentage; the greatest of all time – probably Rickey Henderson.

    However, Rickey believed that numbers 2 hitters were just as important because they had to be diverse in their willingness to bunt, hit and run, or take pitchers deep into the count to give Rickey more of a chance to steal a base – by the way no one will ever break his stolen base record!

    Simply put batting second meant advancing the lead off runner and still does.

    Keep advancing!


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  • Rob Wu
    August 23, 2010

    In most churches I’ve been to, the leadership culture is a bit more authoritative — so humbling yourself and going second is the best way to go. But on the other end, there can be churches in which the leaders disseminate leadership and ask their staff and congregations to take more action. Those leaders would want you to go first.

    Great post!

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  • Gary Hines
    August 23, 2010

    Milan, could it be that “going second” is really about “honor” and “honoring” those we’re called and positioned to serve?

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  • Jason Stewart
    August 24, 2010

    Milan, thanks for this post and the experience and wisdom you have shared. I have served on four church staff spanning a decade and half. I have found myself leaving in the tension of sitting in the number one seat in a ministry area while still having “Going Second”. I have stubbed my toe many times but have also learned great truths over the years.

    “Going Second” I have learned is a privilege and is as much a crucial role of leadership as going first. I have finally learned and now confident, as I am sure many of your readers have, that being second can and is a calling. I am thankful to live that calling and help the vision of my church and point leader go further faster.

    I am excited about this article and I will be sharing it with my team.

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  • Chris Chatterton
    August 27, 2010

    Milan, this is great post. I believe that if you are working in a church that you have to recognize authority (This translates to the secular world as well). As you stated we may not always agree with them and or their processes but going “second” will serve them well.

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