Is It Okay to Want to Be #2?

“People ask me if I want to be the CEO someday,” Jeremy shared over tacos. ”I say yes because I think I’m supposed to.  But, honestly, I don’t want to be the boss. I like being number two. Is there something wrong with me?”

I knew Jeremy’s primary spiritual gift was giving.  And I suspected that fact held the key to his dilemma.


My dad was one of the most generous people I’ve known.  When I was a kid, the IRS limited charitable contribution deductions to 40% of income.  Most years, my dad would go over the 40% limit. And it wasn’t because he was loaded.  Most of my childhood, our family’s income was below the poverty line. That’s just who my dad was.  He was incredibly frugal (an obsessive bargain shopper) which allowed him to be incredibly generous with others.

Jeremy and my dad both have the gift of giving. The seven spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8 are sometimes called motivational gifts because they shape how we are motivated to respond to needs. Different people respond to the same need differently depending on their motivational gifts. So, while we are all called to give, “givers” are especially wired to notice and contribute to others’ needs.

But here’s the interesting thing.  While givers love to champion the leadership of others, they usually struggle as point persons. My dad pastored small churches all his life.  He’d come home from a pastors’ conference fired up about a new vision, preach about it a couple of weeks, and then keep floundering for direction.

An associate pastor who had been promoted to senior pastor lamented, “If someone would just tell me where to go, I could get us there.  But I have no idea where we should be going.”  He had thrived as an associate when his senior pastor set the direction.  But as a person with the primary gift of giving, he was not wired to be the directional leader.


Back at the taco shop, I explained to Jeremy that “givers” find their greatest joy not in leading an organization, but in championing the work of leaders they believe in.  He lit up.  “I’m full of ideas of things I’d love to take off my boss’s plate to free him up. That would be my dream job!”

That night Jeremy wrote up his dream job description and showed it to his boss the next day. His boss was thrilled and said, “Let’s do it!”

And now, when people ask, “Wouldn’t you like to be the CEO someday?” Jeremy can smile and say, “No thanks. I make an awesome #2.”

P.S.  “Givers” aren’t the only people who make great #2’s.


  1. If your primary gift is giving, are you championing the work of a leader you enthusiastically believe in?
  2. Are any “givers” in your area of responsibility frustrated from trying to be directional leaders?  Can you help them find a “champion” role where they can thrive?


Encourage another leader. Pass it on!
Follow Eddy Hall:

Author. Pastor. Consultant. Coach.

My lifelong passion has been to help the church become healthier. I have lived this out through youth work, urban ministry, denominational staff work, and pastoring; through writing, editing, and publishing; through consulting with churches throughout the U.S. and Canada. During this season, I am living out my call to help churches become healthier by focusing on helping church leaders become healthier and more fruitful, through writing, coaching, and leading retreats and training events.

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