To play second fiddle is an idiom meaning that you take a subordinate role behind someone more important. The term actually alludes to the part of second violin in an orchestra. Speaking of orchestras, Leonard Bernstein the famous orchestra conductor was once asked, "What is the most difficult instrument to play?" He replied, "Second fiddle. I can 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." Pause for a moment and consider how Berstein’s reply is applicable to Christian ministry. Whether it be in a Christian organization or the local church, the majority of people must be willing to play a subordinate role, standing behind someone more visible if there is to be success in ministry to the glory of God. For those familiar with the game of football the most easily identifiable player and the most valuable to the team is the quarterback. He is the “field general” who calls the plays and inspires his teamates. Lacking a good quarterback a football team can hardly expect to win. Nobody underestimates his value to the team. That is why a quarterback is typically paid the highest salary. But how many football fans know that the second highest paid player on the field is the left offensive tackle. In 2005 they made over $6 million a year in the world of professional football. Why are these men paid so well? Simply because they protect the blind side of the quarterback from the rush of a fast defensive end when a single hit from the blind side can end the career of the quarterback. Typically, a left tackle must be big, over 300 pounds and very agile. That makes him a rare specimen, increasing his value. However, the fact remains that not many football fans can name the left tackle as easily as the quarterback. In a sense, they play second fiddle, but how important is the second fiddle they play? Ask any quarterback and they will be only too happy to tell you. Similarly, the typical Christian team member is not in the role of a quarterback. They are not as heralded, but just as important and precious in God’s sight. In the New Testament epistles of Paul we find the names of many ‘second fiddles’. The most extensive list is found in the book of Romans, chapter 16. Their we find mention of:- Phoebe who was a guardian of many
- Priscilla & Aquila helpers in Jesus Christ who risked their life for Paul
- Mary who bestowed much labor in behalf of Paul
- Andonicus and Junia fellowsprisoners
- Urbane a helper
- Apelles approved in Christ
- Tryphena and Tryphosa who labor in the Lord
Praise God for these little known saints at Rome who contributed to the work that God ordained. Paul had the dominant role, but he would not have succeeded without those who protected him, prayed for him, encouraged him, exhorted him, supported him, and above all, loved him with the love of Jesus Christ. Although there were men such as “Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence” (3 John 1:9), the Scripture salutes a greater number who toiled behind the stage to honor Christ. It is the same in the church and Christian ministries today. God has plenty of ‘second fiddles’ and to them we owe a huge debt of gratitude. These instruments of God seek neither the praise of men nor earthly rewards. They play for an audience of one, their Saviour. They strive to promote “the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3), rather than destroy it through jealousy and strife. They "place others before themselves" (Philippians 2:4). Their only desire is to be "found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2) and set a good example to those who come after them. Surely the music they make is a beautiful and holy sound as it ascends to throne of God in heaven. Christian brothers and sisters, be content to play second fiddle.
To Jesus be all the glory forever!