I’ve always been a right-hand man. Growing up with an older brother, I was almost always an accomplice and very rarely the mastermind. Whether it was playing in the yard or playing video games, I often played a supporting role and very rarely was the hero.
I remember, in particular, playing Sonic 2 on the Sega Genesis and waiting and wishing for the chance to play as Sonic. Most often, however, I got stuck being Tails — Sonic’s flying fox friend who was able to offer little support and could actually be left behind by the game’s namesake.
But then Sonic 3 came out, and in that game Tails became much more important to helping Sonic succeed. He was still in a supporting role, and he could still be left behind (or dragged along), but he suddenly had the ability to pick up Sonic and fly him to places that would have been difficult for him to reach on his own. Because of this, there were times where my brother would make Sonic wait so Tails and I could help him with a difficult task. Tails finally felt his worth (and I felt what it was like, maybe for the first time, to be in a fulfilling, supporting role).
As a student pastor I’ve experienced this same fulfillment in the church, too. I’ve embraced being a right-hand man to the senior pastor because I sense that I’m really making a difference in my role.
Listen: You don’t have to make all of the decisions in your family, business, or church to make a difference. Instead, if you’re a right-hand man, make it your goal to be a person of indispensable influence on the people around you (including those who lead you). You don’t have to be the guy in charge to make an impact.
John the Baptist exampled this philosophy well. He was a natural (or supernatural) leader, drawing tons of people to himself to be baptized. Isaiah even prophesied about John’s coming and purpose in the Old Testament, and John was so intriguing it appears some people even wondered if he was the Messiah!
Yet, when Jesus stepped on the scene, John willingly stepped back from it. On one occasion recorded in John 3, the disciples of John appear to be jealous that people are now going to Jesus for baptism instead of coming to them. John responds in a way that shows he’s embraced his supporting role:
27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
John was a great man, a bold speaker, and a strong leader, but he realized what was best for the Kingdom was for him to take a step back and make sure Jesus rightly received his glory.
Let’s make it our goal to do the same. Let’s work and pray to set aside our pride for the benefit of the Kingdom and the magnification of Jesus. Let’s find joy in that work, and know that you can have a great impact even when you’re not calling all the shots.