“I am hoping to make a positive impression on the conductor. If I join the orchestra, I’m hoping he gives me the principal trumpet position. I love doing solos. There’s the rush of adrenalin when all eyes are on you and the entire audience is suspended in breathlessness as you play. Then there is the roaring applause as you finish the part and blend back into the orchestral arrangement.”
If you’re primarily interested in playing the principal role and soaking up the praise of solo performances – then you are not yet suited to play in God’s magnificent orchestra. You need more work – much more. God is not looking for principal trombonists or trumpeters. Nor is He looking for people who insist on playing first fiddle. He may eventually give you that role, but not if you are ‘looking’ for it.
Leonard Bernstein, the celebrated American orchestra conductor, was asked, “What is the hardest instrument to play?” He replied without hesitation: “Second fiddle. I can always get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm or second French horn or second flute – now that’s a problem. And yet, if no one plays second, we have no harmony.”
One translation puts it: “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Another one says: “Take delight in honoring each other.” Yet another says: “Display a willingness to let the other man have the credit.” One paraphrases it into street language: “Practise playing second fiddle.”
God is looking for a Christian sister who is willing to play second fiddle. He’s looking for a Christian brother who is willing to play a subordinate role in the interest of the greater good. God is looking for Christians who are delighted to play background harmony in His orchestra. It’s a very bad sign if someone is seeking a prominent or a lead role in the things of God – loving every minute of a solo performance. The dangerous Christians are those who grab the first chance to play lead melody rather than playing back-up harmony.
Older saints and overseers – beware of a sincere, junior, rising star who seems to be extraordinarily talented and multi-gifted in the local church – one who just happens to be in the center of every circle or the leader of every line of Christian activity and responsibility. The tendency is to view such ability and energy as refreshing. Against the back-drop of others who are more reticent or even apathetic, we can naively encourage the born-leader to lead even more. The reality is: this big-personality young believer will need more deliberate discipling, customized spiritual mentoring and more 1:1 managing than most other believers require. If they are not spiritually managed actively and purposefully at the outset by mature believers, the future could be very troublesome or even disastrous for them and sadly, for those they influence or impact.
Again, the verse says: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” Romans 12:10
Rather than posturing for some recognition or vying for top spot or competing for a lead role, the verse almost suggests that if we want to compete in something, we should compete in showing other believers the highest possible honour – rather than seeking recognition for ourselves and for our own. Our greatest pleasure in serving one another, as we serve the Lord, should be in seeing another believer spiritually prosper and grow.
Our wicked flesh loves to receive praise and commendation. Even the most self-effacing and self-deprecating believer enjoys positive feedback and being noticed for something good they have done. “Did anyone see me? Did anyone notice what I did?” And then, there is the little surge of hurt when we are overlooked, while someone else is singled out for praise. Ouch!! That’s our flesh. A spiritual believer loves to see another believer singled-out for praise and honour.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.
Warmly in Christ
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