Playing Second Fiddle

What is the most difficult instrument in the orchestra to play?

According to Leonard Bernstein, the great composer and conductor, the answer is “Second Fiddle!”

Bernstein found no shortage of people willing to be the principal performer. The challenge was to locate a musician content to play in the second chair.

Second fiddle is a tough instrument to play, especially in the concert hall of life. No wonder God says,

“Be good friends who love deeply, practice playing second fiddle.” (Romans 12:10 The Message)

The phrase, “practice playing second fiddle” originates from two Greek words. One means “honor” and the other “to go before and lead.” God's message is simply this: His people are to lead out in showing honor to others. That takes a willingness to be second!

One night several years ago, I was thoroughly engrossed in a fascinating story from World War II when one of my children came to give me a kiss goodnight. Something inside of me said, “Get out of the chair and go pray with that child before he goes to sleep.” But I was firmly ensconced, caught in the grip of a good read and unwilling to get up. Then one of our other children came in search of "the kiss." I remained in my chair! Still another arrived. I stayed put. One more ventured for their evening "good night kiss." I didn't budge!

That night God called me to play second fiddle to the needs of my children, but I ignored the call. Preferring the comfort of the first chair, I passed out kisses, but passed on prayer. In short, I honored myself before them.

I have discovered that most opportunities to play second fiddle do not come before standing-room-only crowds. They are simple occasions when we put others before ourselves at work, on a ball team, in a church, at home, or out in the community.

Bernstein is right. Playing second fiddle is the most difficult instrument to play. But when we do, the music is beautiful and the harmony leaves an echo of delight.