In a supporting role.
Yes, the world is a stage and sometimes we're in a supporting role. The leads in this production are the drama kings or queens that make our lives interesting, and often complicated. They're our friends and family as well, and we have a back stage angle on their theatrics. Our roles usually either moderate or amply the drama.
Maestro Leonard Bernstein was once asked which symphonic instrument was most difficult to master. It may be apocryphal, but Bernstein is quoted as saying, without a moments hesitation, "Second fiddle". Ain't it the truth! And, that's one factor that makes our supporting roles in life's drama so perplexing. Filling pregnant pauses, navigating awkward conversations, deciphering rhetoric and mannerisms, serving as an attitude thermostat, and many other unscripted second-chair assignments aren't usually our favorites. All kidding aside, however, our connection to people with a melodramatic flair should move us to the shadows and position us to guard and protect them from the theatrics that could be misunderstood or cause harm to others.
This is especially true in our "one another" relationships, those with whom we share faith. You see, drama (1) can hinder Christian unity and fellowship, and (2) can often influence Christian witness in a negative way. This very scenario played out one Sunday evening at a local restaurant. Two men were discussing something relatively insignificant from church earlier that day and the conversation became a little heated. During the histrionics one of the men, and his wife, stomped out of the restaurant without paying their bill. When the server asked what had happened, an observer said that the men had a fight about church. The waiter said, "It's why I've opted out of church. Too much drama!" I went back later, settled my bill, and gave the waiter a nice tip. (Just kidding. It wasn't me. But, I've been that drama king before so I can identify).
So, what is my role as second fiddle to the more dramatic people in my life. Let me tip-toe here a bit.
1. Don't join the drama.
All of us have a fuse. Some are short while others are long. We must avoid allowing
the drama to ignite our emotions to the point that we become another spot-light in
the theatrics. The Apostle Paul warned---"But if you bite and devour one another,
watch out that you are not consumed by one another" (Galatians 5:15, ESV). The
drama will typically intensify when we try to capture center stage.
2. Remember your bond as friend or family.
To "love one another" is among the most repeated counsel given to Christians in
their relationship with others, especially those in the community of faith. This love is
described by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthains 13: 4-7, ESV: "Love is patient and
kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its
own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but
rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things". This love should define our attitude and actions in every life
circumstance, especially when being tested by awkward circumstances.
3. Learn the grace of overlooking certain actions.
We're prone to take corrective measures when someone we love crosses certain
relational lines. Solomon wrote, "Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his
glory to overlook an offense" (Proverbs 19:11, ESV). Sometimes our best course of
action when histrionics are surfacing is to let it slide.
4. Moderate the drama with spiritual grace.
Drama often escalates beyond the emotions and reactions of a tight, close group to
spill over on people operating in the edges of the drama. This is not a time to
humiliate, correct, or demean the person at center stage. Again, the Apostle Paul
wrote, "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,
kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has
a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so
you also must forgive" (Colossians 3: 12-13, ESV). Sometimes we must moderate
the drama. But, our second chair role should be with spiritual virtue.
5. Speak the truth in love.
Christians experiencing life together is often hard. The Apostle Paul advised the
believers in Ephesus to live in unity and use their gifts to edify the body without
being carried away by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, or by craftiness in
deceitful schemes. He instructed them, "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to
grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole
body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each
part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love"
(Ephesians 4: 15-16, ESV). We need to tell our friend of family member the truth
about their actions, but relate this truth in love.
Second fiddle is a difficult place in this drama prone world. But, it is significant as we fulfill our supporting role in the lives of people we love.
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