Asked which instrument was the most difficult to play, famous conductor Leonard Bernstein thought for a moment and replied, “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.”
Playing second fiddle is not for the faint of heart. Most of us naturally want the lead (especially if you’re competitive), but few want to support the lead. It takes skill to play a supportive role. It could be the most challenging thing you ever do in your career or ministry. You get pressure from two directions and none (or very little) of the credit. Sound familiar?
You’ve probably heard someone, maybe even yourself say, “I’m not playing second fiddle to them anymore!”.
What’s So Bad about Second Fiddle?
We feel second fiddle is less important and playing that role somehow makes us less important or weaker. But thinking that is like thinking the harmonizing part of a harmony is less important! If you only support yourself and no one else, you will miss out on the beautiful music that only comes through a collaboration.
Romans 12:16a (NLT) Live in harmony with each other.
We have no harmony – in music or in life – until we are willing to support the other guy. The “other guy” can be the other leader, the new leader, the chosen leader, even the leader we don’t agree with. Sometimes the “other guy” is in the position we wanted. However, this is where is where our faith gets tested as a disciple of Jesus. Can he trust us to lend our hearts to the harmony–and support someone else so that something beautiful is made, something that neither of you could make alone? Can we trust Jesus if he gives us a second fiddle assignment when you were looking for something more? He wants to help you answer both questions.
Jesus Taught a Masterclass on Followership.
In word and deed, Jesus taught his disciples to humble themselves to best serve, help, and support others. The supportive role skills he taught them would prove invaluable when they all had to work together after the Day of Pentecost.
Mark 10:42-43, 45
So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant…For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.
“Among you it will be different”
It’s misguided to look at our families, jobs, and churches and think, “I must be in charge and be someone here.” Jesus is calling men to ask, “How can I support others and be a servant here?”. Big difference. But that’s also the point–different.
Playing second fiddle may come at a cost to your ego. It will require you to grow and stretch in your walk with Jesus. There’s an armchair quarterback in all of us that thinks we could do it better if given the chance. But if God has entrusted you with second fiddle, play it well. Make such beautiful music that others are inspired to join the harmony! Leave a legacy for other would-be second fiddlers.
The best leaders are those who have been followers first. When Christian men learn how to serve and support others, it glorifies God. It’s what Jesus did. It’s what Jesus taught.
Second fiddle is a strategic position that God wants to entrust you with.
I’ve discovered that people who have a heart to serve and help others are true treasures. They add value to your life just by being around them.
As a pastor, I have been blessed with many great men and women who know how to help and support to me. Together we accomplish what I could never do by myself. One of the things that makes them great is the true servant hearts they display–they get the job done, even when no one is watching.
One man tirelessly leads a men’s group and always give his best. Another rushed out just before service recently (unasked) to buy cases of water because we ran out. And a man who once spent all night painting the entire auditorium by himself (twice . . .unasked) just because it needed to be done. I could go on and on. This is what support looks like and its sweet harmony to Jesus and anyone else who hears.
For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
Casual observers rarely notice the truly second fiddles among us. But no matter what others see, always remember that God sees. And he has a rich reward for those who help others shine for His glory.
It’s natural to want to promote ourselves, but God is looking for those who can support someone else. Can you help, assist, support, encourage, protect, pray for, and cheer on…your pastor or others in leadership from a second fiddle position? Pick up your violin bow and join the song! Heaven will applaud and you’ll be part of a beautiful harmony.