My high school football career nearly reached its zenith my senior year when I got my name in the local paper two weeks in a row—each time for something I didn’t do.
The first time was when we were playing one of our archrivals, the Rattlers, and my friend Willy blocked a punt that rolled tantalizingly ahead of me into the end zone. I ran like crazy to try to recover it and my only competition was Tuck, one of my teammates.
Actually, his name was Daryl, but we called him “Tuck” because a few years before everyone had called his big brother “Tuck.” His brother’s name was really Bobby, though. Go figure.
Tuck was just a bit faster than me, so he hopped onto the ball to score the touchdown. I hopped on Tuck just to make sure nothing got away (and because I was frustrated that he got to the ball first). Evidently, when I got up the local newspaper reporter saw my number and shortly afterwards, there it was in the Nashville (AR) News, “David Porter recovered the blocked kick for a touchdown.”
Tuck wasn’t very happy, but what could I say?
The very next week my teammate, Buck (Bruce) blocked a punt and I recovered it, but it was a long way from the goal line. In the next paper my journalistic friend, who evidently suffered from poor vision, wrote, “David Porter blocked the kick.”
Buck wasn’t very happy but what could I say?
We all like to get credit for what we do don’t we?
There is a strange story in Genesis 38. In nearly 36 years of preaching and teaching I don’t think I’ve ever used this text, for reasons which will become obvious.
It’s the account of a fellow named Onan who was constrained to marry his dead brother’s childless widow. According to the laws of the time he was to have children with her. The child of this union would be counted as his dead brother’s child and keep his line alive.
Onan didn’t want to produce children for his brother, so he took measures to ensure that his new wife/sister-in-law wouldn’t become pregnant.
He offended the Lord by his actions. “GOD was much offended by what he did and also took his life.” (Gen. 38:10, the Message).
This attitude of always having to receive credit for what we do can be mortal. We want to be the big cheese, the one who gets noticed, don’t we? Have you read that great book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Followership”? Actually it hasn’t been written yet.
Browse the shelves of your local Christian bookstore and count how many books your find on leadership. Now run over and see how many books there are in the “second fiddle” section.
Actually, the Bible has some good examples of people who worked hard and let others take the credit. David provided a mountain of material, plus a fortune in gold and silver to get things ready to build the temple of God. Afterwards it was called….ta dee ta da tee da … Solomon’s Temple! But David did the groundwork to set his son up for success.
Jonathan braved his dad’s wrath so that David could sit on the throne in his place. Paul had a whole team of fiddlers—second fiddle, third fiddle, fourth fiddle—working with him.
He sends greetings from this orchestra to the Colossiens.
“My good friend Tychicus will tell you all about me … I’ve sent Onesimus with him … Aristarchus, who is in jail here with me, sends greetings; also Mark, cousin of Barnabas … also Jesus, the one they call Justus … Epaphras, who is one of you, says hello … Luke, good friend and physician, and Demas both send greetings.” (Col. 4:7-14, The Message).
What role did these fellows play in Paul’s achievements? Most likely he would have accomplished very little without them.
Let’s face it, most of us aren’t important leaders. We’re part of a winning team and sometimes we end up making others look good.
But at the end, God is going to sort everything out and He’ll reward great followers just like He rewards great leaders. Do what He put you here to do and let Him worry about the credit.
Some of you may be frustrated because it seems you work hard but it’s others who are recognized, they get credit that comes in large part from your efforts.
Remember–the heavenly Journalist sees everything perfectly.
Almighty God of truth and love,
to me thy power impart;
the mountain from my soul remove,
the hardness from my heart.
O may the least omission pain
my reawakened soul,
and drive me to that blood again,
which makes the wounded whole.
Charles Wesley, 1749