Second Fiddle

Last night, a co-worker posted a link on Facebook to a blog post called, “Top 10 Things That Determine Happiness.

That post resonated with me because a lot of people in my life are unhappy because they don’t want to be happy. They seem to have a co-dependency with angst. And they tend to take it out on me because I’m a generally happy person.

Here’s a couple of my favorite parts of the list:

No.10 – Having a short memory

Are you one to hold grudges? Do you need the jaws of life to pry forgiveness out of you? Well, don’t expect these attributes to contribute to your happiness or to your overall health for that matter. This ability to forgive and forget, to go with the flow, is frequently cited by researchers of centenarians as being a key factor in their ability to live to see their 100th birthday.

No.5 – Developing a skill

According to psychology professor Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl, the route to happiness is simple enough, “Live it, don’t buy it.” This is especially relevant in the modern world, where instant gratification can be purchased — but only to a point, before it hits a wall.

He quotes a professional base jumper, who says, “You’ve got to have the passion to do your time. If you haven’t done the time, you just can’t get there.” He goes on to argue that only by paying one’s dues through time, effort, devotion, and experience can we, “develop the rich experiences that make life meaningful.”

No.1 – Liking yourself

Liking oneself is arguably the principal characteristic of happy people. It’s been revealed in study after study after study: happy people like themselves. They think they’re pretty great people. They have high self-esteem, meaning they think highly of their own intelligence, they consider themselves to have strong ethical standards and to have far fewer prejudices than others.

If I could be so bold to add one to the list, for youth workers, it would be:

No.11 – Embrace your role as second fiddle

Being satisfied in your ministry role will mean not being the most important person on your church staff. Ultimately, your role is to elevate the overall ministry of the church. When the student ministry is successful it compliments the overall mission of the congregation. The position of second fiddle is nothing to be ashamed of as it often earns many of the perks of the person in charge, but with little of the pressure of being the star. Conversely, the least satisfied youth workers tend to carry an attitude of, “I don’t play second fiddle to nobody, I’m a leader!” This disconnect between their role in the organization and where they see their role leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

What do you think? Is a key to happiness in youth ministry being satisfied in your role that you’ll never be the star?





3 responses to “Second Fiddle”

  1. Marty Avatar


    I struggle with this a lot. I know my role is second fiddle, but I also love recognition and praise, and love feeling important (revealing a bit of my sinfulness here). I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m not the highest man on the totem pole.

  2. Mike Lyons Avatar

    I would take the “second fiddle” thing even further. I wouldn’t dream of trying to compete for being “the leader.” The best thing that has ever happened to me in ministry is having a student graduate and then take a role as an adult leader. I am probably doing as much work as I did being “in charge” of those aspects of ministry, except now my former student is “in charge” and getting all the credit. It’s great–the ministry is flourishing. If I needed praise I’d have a problem, but if it was all about me I would need to leave the ministry.

  3. jay sauser Avatar

    This is a hard one to figure out. There are times when I want to be the leader, feel like leading, and try to assume that role. And then there are times when I want to step back, go behind the scenes and stay invisible so to speak. I wrestle with both from time to time and even wrestle with them based off of examples I find in scripture. It is a struggle, a delicate waltz to figure out.

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