Most people like music. Some people can make music. They sing or they play. Some know how to use technology to produce music. Some write lyrics; some compose melodies.
Some of us need to stay away. I was in the 9th grade when our band director told me that I had the wrong kind of lips to play the cornet. The wrong kind of lips?? I was too dumb to ask for further explanation. My interpretation was more along the lines of: “There are many people out there who can play the cornet. You’re not among them.”
One of my good friends had this experience while in seminary: Required to take a course in congregational music leadership, my friend was approached by the professor several weeks into the course (he had heard my friend try to sing). The professor said, “I will make you deal. I will promise you a ‘C’ in this course if you promise to never lead congregational music in a Baptist church.”
I knew another person who was convinced that she had a solo voice that needed to be utilized more frequently. She was the only person who felt that way. Small children would cry, old ladies would faint, cats would appear from everywhere, prayer lives were changed … you get the point.
I really admire people with great musical talent. Many of us wish we could sit down at the piano and play beautifully or pick up a guitar to lead worship or sing to move others. Some of us are perfect for the first chair in an orchestra. We are the ones they point to when seeking the best.
But most of us are just glad to be in the band. We’re much more suited for the second chair than the first. My dad was that way. He was the best second-chair guy I ever knew. He didn’t need or seek the applause. He was very willing to step back so someone else could be recognized. He was comfortable in his own skin and didn’t need validating by the opinions of others.
In my line of work, pride is particularly dangerous. I love the way Paul describes the church as a body – many individual parts, all with significant roles. I love it when everyone counts, everyone matters. You may not be able to do the work of the hand because you make such a great leg.
There is indescribable beauty in the diversity of the people of God. That guy who couldn’t sing or lead music? He’s a heck of a teacher. Find your gifts and use them. Orchestras sound best, not because of the first chair, but because of all the chairs!