Teaching Your Kids To Be Content Being #2

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There I sat in the midst of the crowded theater listening to the orchestra. Not my normal Saturday night routine, I’ll admit. But some of my friends felt that I needed a little culture, so there I sat, getting a healthy dose of sophistication.

Occasionally throughout the performance, the conductor would motion to a man who played the violin and have him stand. The crowd applauded wildly. When I left that night, I took with me not only my newfound “culture,” but a whole bunch of questions as to what made that guy so special.

And let me tell you, I got an education. Turns out that guy was Michael Davis, the first-chair violinist, or concertmaster. Next to the conductor, he was the Macdaddy.

Shows you how much I know.

In time, Michael and I became good friends. But that first night I just saw him as the guy who got all the applause.

It’s fun to be number one.

Not so much if you’re second. The great conductor Leonard Bernstein was once asked, “What is the hardest instrument to play?” To which he 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.”

I wondered if that was literally true, or just a figure of speech. So I posed the question to my talented musician friend Michael: Is it really harder to play second-chair violin in an orchestra as opposed to first-chair?

I loved his answer. “Playing the notes isn’t tougher musically,” Michael said, “but you’re doing a lot of the work in the background while someone else is getting the glory. First violinists get the attention; that’s what makes playing second violin tough.”

This musical metaphor offers an apt characterization of our culture: we don’t handle it well when we do the same work but someone else gets more of the glory. Someone once said, “It’s amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.” These words have been attributed to both the iconic UCLA basketball coach John Wooden and to NASCAR owner Robert Yates. How wonderfully ironic that we don’t quite know who to give the credit to!

Whichever man said it, you and I’d do well both to live by that truth and teach it to our children. Yet this is one of the biggest challenges for us as parents: to raise kids who accept that they don’t deserve first-chair treatment.

Kids whose disposition and joy are not tied to their personal opportunities, possessions, or circumstances. Kids who go to great lengths and derive genuine joy from elevating others. Kids who realize that their sole purpose on earth is to glorify God and honor others.

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Source: Crosswalk | Dave Stone, Pastor, Southeast Christian Church

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