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Second Fiddle

No, I have never played a fiddle, nor any stringed instrument, though in high school a trombone and before that a quite banged up coronet, purchased by my dad from a pawn shop I am sure. I was grateful!

My days in the bandroom gave me just enough exposure to music to understand harmony, and the necessity of the various first lesson in leadership and team building!

However, just like in football and other sports, one discovers the pressure of competition for the various roles, be that quarterback, pitcher or point guard.

I was never moved by the need for first chair in band. Though for the future CEO types it seems of some inert necessity that they weekly demonstrate a passion to impress the director and challenge the rest of us for the lead parts. Again, that never was of interest to me, content with the best in whatever role was assigned, though always in good standing with "first chair" players.

In fact, my whole life has been about serving and encouraging others, listening to their vision and strategizing as to how they might achieve the various goals necessary to achieve their dreams, though I too am a dreamer and quite passionate about my life's calling!

Whether as a public school classroom teacher or staffing for the office of the superintendent; an executive pastor, mayor or marketplace entrepreneur, I can honestly say, my vision has always been about collective community and harmony. My humility a gift as well, given my often misunderstood confidence in and passion around my calling.

Just this morning I recieved a note of gratitude for my life long encouragement of a quite successful entrepreneur, and the night before sat in on a request for participation in a video production telling the story of another friend.

It seems the latter, a very successful engineer and now philanthropist had mentioned my name to the producer of this soon to be released documentary. I was somewhat shocked, even overwhelmed with emotion when mid-interview, I was named as having played a significant role in his journey, that of "spiritual father." I had only known my part as friend, available for the processing of life over the phone or an occasional lunch over the years.

As I sit here on a Saturday morning following quite a full schedule, I find myself reflecting in the solitude of my corner devotional chair, reassessing what used to haunt me as a leader who seldom sought out "first chair."

From school yards to church campuses, senior facilities to student housing, upscale apartment complexes to community development corporations, I have been privileged to serve behind the scenes with men and women far more skilled than myself.

So, lessons learned are now my task at 74, unpacking the nuance necessary to serve behind the scenes in a way that enables others, survives the conflict that often occurs, dodges the disillusionment, and quickly resolving the internal stress of wondering what "first chair" might have felt like. Yes, there were moments when that position might have been seized during the weak moments of leaders served, yet the whisper of integrity prevented the ego from gaining control. Just being honest.

That's a skill set of its own, with the greatest asset being a deep trust and a solid confidence in the providence of God. Knowing, that one's life is not in vain, but those secondary contributions are solid planks layed on the bridge toward another generation's success.

So, bloom where you are planted, play where you are seated, serve where you are "called"! And while at it, be the best you can be, whether first, second or even third fiddle!

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