Playing Second Fiddle

September 29, 2015 - By 

There’s a quote on the internet that I thought was great, and it is relevant to music ministry in addition to many other areas of life.

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 (Leonard Bernstein).

As it relates to church music ministry, I think this is a huge concept that we all need to get through our heads. Starting with the leadership.

Right Away, All the Way, and With a Cheerful Attitude

When receiving parental advice, I have heard it said that the evidence of real obedience is a child who obeys right away, all the way, and with a cheerful attitude. As a parent (and I have four young children all under 10), I want my children to grow up to obey God that way… right away, all the way, and with cheerfulness.

If I am to be honest, this is a real struggle in my life (no doubt due to the inner rebellion against God that I have had to fight all my life). In all truthfulness, I am not bent to obey God right away, all the way, and with the right attitude. It’s a struggle, and I find myself failing more times than I want to admit.

A Heart-probing Scenario

God may call you to “play second fiddle” for a period of time. On the other hand, it might be the calling of your life. I have certainly felt that. As a music pastor, I serve our senior pastor. God has called me to compliment his ministry and to serve under his direction. I have learned to embrace that calling.

But there are other areas of my life where I have been called to play “first fiddle.” As the music pastor, God has called me to serve our pastor, but he has also called me to lead the volunteers who serve in our music ministry. Honestly, it can sometimes be daunting, and I can even find myself wishing I wasn’t in the first chair in this aspect of ministry. But at the very core of my being I have a strong sense of calling in this field; I know it’s what God wants me to do.

But what if someone more capable, more qualified, and more talented came along? What if someone exhibited the same abilities, and had greater talents and leadership qualities? What if God called me away from my “position,” and called this new, more worthy person to the position? Worse yet, what if I didn’t feel this person was more talented or qualified?

Would I be willing to “step aside” and play second fiddle to this person?

I sure hope so. (I haven’t always been able to say that. It’s something I’ve thought about long and hard.) I sure hope I’d be willing to step aside and let God use someone else for His purposes in ways that I was unable to be used.

The truth is, it happens all the time. God has a way of putting people where He wants them. I have a choice: I can hang on to my ministry for all I’m worth, as if I posses it, which really isn’t true. Or, I can humbly submit, and recognize that God has a purpose and plan that may be beyond my ability to comprehend or understand.

Ownership vs. Possessiveness

These days, as I see it, it seems there are far too many people who are possessive of their ministry or place of service, and unwilling to view it as a gift of God that needs to be wisely taken care of. They view it as their right, not their privilege.

I believe God is looking for people in ministry who will take “ownership” (obey right away, all the way, and with the right attitude), yet will let go of any claim to possession of it. It’s God’s ministry; He has just allowed you to steward it.

Embrace the second chair mentality. Follow the clear teaching of Ephesians 5:21, by submitting to others. And in doing so, you will make some beautiful harmony!

3 Comments
  • This is a wonderful article. I am in full agreement. It is even more difficult when asked to play “second fiddle” to someone whose experience and abilities are far less than one’s own.

  • I truly can relate to the point of this article. I have always believed God has called me to play the “second fiddle” serving as the minister of music many years. I have tried my best to fulfill that calling as God would have me to do, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. And I can relate to your point of “playing second fiddle” to someone not as talented or qualified. After being the choir director at my previous church for nine years, I find it difficult to just be a choir member because I would do things so much different. Thank you for this article.

  • Sometimes just being content where God has us is a difficult task. But it is a worthy effort.

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