After the American TV personality Ed McMahon died in 2009, one newspaper headline read, “When it came to being the No. 2 man, he was No. 1.” Best known for his 30-year tenure as Johnny Carson’s late-night sidekick, McMahon excelled at helping Carson succeed in the spotlight. While most entertainers strive for top billing, McMahon was content with a supporting role.
When the apostle Paul gave instructions about how to exercise our gifts as members of the body of Christ (Rom. 12:3-8), he affirmed the value of supporting roles. He began by saying that we should have a realistic opinion of ourselves (v.3), and he concluded with a call to genuine, unselfish love: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (v.10). Or, as J. B. Phillips translates it, “a willingness to let the other man have the credit.”
Our gifts and abilities come to us by God’s grace and are to be used by faith (vv.3,6) in love and service for Christ—not for personal recognition.
May God grant us the ability to embrace with enthusiasm the supporting roles to which He calls us. The ultimate goal is His glory and not our own.