A reporter once asked the celebrated orchestra conductor, Leonard Bernstein, to name the most difficult instrument to play.
Bernstein replied, “Second fiddle! I can always get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm . . . now that’s a problem. And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.”
People with a passionate desire to master an instrument, an art, or a sport want to be best.
But the word best, by its very definition, is limiting.
Think of well-known characters who played second to a best:
- Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson
- Vicki Lawrence to Carol Burnett
- B. J. Hunnicutt to Hawkeye Pierce
- John Watson to Sherlock Holmes
Carson, Burnett, Pierce, and Holmes might never have achieved “first place” in their fields without the help of their sidekicks, their so-called “second bananas.”
But let’s look at these duos in a different way.
Maybe McMahon, Lawrence, Hunnicutt, and Watson were playing first in what they did.
Not everyone could have played their roles. They were the best at what they did.
People sometimes yearn to be best in something when they have no chance of even being good in that area.
How ridiculous would it be if I set as my goal, at age 67, to become an award-winning LPGA player or a world renowned chess champion?
The sooner I recognize my abilities and opportunities and work toward being best in those areas, the higher are my chances of success.
I won’t lie to you.
I would love to be the next Erma Bombeck.
In the field of writing homebased humor, she was the best.
I would even like to be the next Max Lucado.
But why stop there? What if I could be the next C. S. Lewis?
The truth is this: I will never be the next anybody.
I am the first and only me. (Grammar purists, forgive me.)
I must not make it my goal to achieve other people’s successes.
Their successes do not diminish my success.
God’s Word instructs me to strive for excellence in whatever I pursue.
It is up to me to decide what I will pursue.
This is an area in my life to which I must apply the truth laid out in God’s Word.
1 Peter 4:10 (TLB) reads: God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.
Though I sometimes fight against accepting this truth, I preach it to my grandchildren. I even found a graphic I intend to include in their scrapbooks.
But my grandchildren are not the only ones who need this reminder.
I have printed this and posted it near my laptop, where I do my writing. When I read it, I substitute the words “person and people” for the words “kid and kids.”
I have been a Christian for over 50 years, but Satan still attacks me. He knows where I am vulnerable. He targets my soft spots.
He targets your soft spots too.
Print and post this wherever you feel a temptation to outdo, outshine, outachieve, outcook, outdrive, outclass, outwrite, or out-whatever other people.
Life isn’t a competition.
You have been given an instrument and a position in life’s symphony.
Play well and in harmony with others.
(The Bryan Skavnak quote “Some Kids Are Smarter Than You” message can be purchased as a wall plaque, canvas hanging, or desk sign at www.etsy.com.)
2 thoughts on “PLAYING SECOND FIDDLE”
I love this whole blog, Debbie, but the last sentence especially resonates with me. I played violin in elementary, junior high, and high school orchestras and I had the honor to play with the state orchestra in high school. I mostly played first violin, but I usually played second violin with the state orchestra because I was among other violinists from all over the state of Indiana. I wish I could have been given this perpsective many years ago when I was a teenager. But through the years I have come to realize how important it is that we play well and in harmony with others. We can’t live peacefully if it’s all about ME. Rather we need to think about how we can give of ourselves to others.
Oh, Becky. Here’s how self-focused I am!
My first thought when I read your comment was was, “She paints, she writes, she swims, and now she PLAYS THE VIOLIN!!??”
I can relate to Paul’a lament in Romans 7 about being a wretched man!
His conclusion is the answer for all of us:
Rom. 7:24-25: Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!