By Pastor Raul Granillo
“The most difficult instrument to play in the orchestra is second fiddle.” —Leonard Bernstein
I played the tenor sax in the school band during 6th and 7th grade. It was there that I learned about “chair” position. A friend of mine, Casey, also played the tenor sax, and I remember constantly competing against him for first chair. Casey held that position for the vast majority of my short lived musical career. On the bright side, I like to think I rocked my second chair position!
What didn’t occur to me at the time was that Casey, although first chair, didn’t lead the band, he followed. Like myself, and the rest of the band, Casey followed Ms. Montrose, our director. She gave us the music, she taught us how to play it, and she directed how it would be performed in full. She led, but we followed. Of course, even Ms. Montrose didn’t lead entirely, she followed direction of the original composers. She too was a follower. The music we played only came together when we embraced our role as followers. Without the second fiddle, there is but one fiddler.
“When morning came, he [Jesus] called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles” (Luke 6:13 NIV).
There were many more than twelve people following Jesus, but He chose twelve of them to become apostles. That is, to become first hand witnesses to all that He would do for the sake of becoming a Church that would reach out to the world. These twelve men were very different from each other, and they struggled with finding their place as the apostles of Jesus. John and James would ask for “first chair” alongside Jesus (Mark 10:35-37). Peter, although bold, was also arrogant and presumed to understand more than he actually did (Matthew 16:22-23, 26:33-35). Judas’ ignorance led him to betray Jesus (Luke 22). They were all flawed, and perhaps less than ideal, but Jesus chose them anyway. Not out of pity or ignorance, but in prayer and full-understanding of what it meant.
What is important to note, is that every apostle, except for Judas, followed Jesus first. Before they could lead the Church or share His gospel message, they had to be followers. Judas did not follow Jesus, he hoped to gain from Him.
For them to be a blessing to the Church, the apostles each had to be “second chair” for the rest of their lives. Jesus made it clear, that servitude was the key to leadership when He, the Creator of the universe, washed their feet—a task meant for the lowest of the low. This was something that the apostles, and all the leaders to follow, would struggle with—following for the sake of being a Christ-like leader.
How are you at following? How are you at playing second fiddle? In all parts of life, this is difficult for us. It is an assault upon our egos. It may very well be that our carnal desire to be “first chair” has caused more division in God’s Church than anything else. It is difficult to follow in humility. It is difficult, but it is the ultimate act of Christ-likeness.
The world should be too important to us to allow our egos to hinder God’s work. We are called, every one of us, but we are called to serve. If we are truly to be called followers of Christ, then we should be humbled that God would allow us to play such an important part in His work as to serve.
I’d like to think that our 7th grade band was amazing. The beauty of the music was only able to come together when we each played our part with passion and in humility. The same is true of the Church. She will only reflect the beauty of Christ back into the world when every member follows with passion and humility.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!