In sixth grade, my little league team made it to the state championship game. I played my role on the team very well -I was a bench warmer!

Over the course of the season, I had come to embrace my position on the team. I would make sure the cups around the Gatorade were ready when the players came off the field. I would get loud and cheer from my dugout location.

The only problem was, I rarely got on the field. That is, until the state championship game.

It was the bottom of the ninth. We were down by one run. For some reason known only to God, my coach felt sorry for me. He inserted me into the lineup. By the time I made it to the plate, the bases were loaded with two outs.

Somehow I forced the pitcher into a full count. Then, my coach pulled me aside. He said something like, “if it’s in there, swing for the stars.”

As I walked back to the plate, I made up my mind that I was swinging no matter what. After all, this was the perfect made-for-tv-movie-moment. This was my moment!

The pitcher wound up and released the ball. I took the biggest swing of my life. Time stood still…

And then…. “Strike Three –You’re out! That’s the ball game.”

When I opened my eyes (you shouldn’t close your eyes when you swing), I looked back at the catcher. The ball was so high that he had to reach to catch it.

I had just struck out on ball four. (I could have walked in the tying run).

I guess my coach was trying to help me make a memory. Well coach, it worked!

As painful as it was, that experience helped me learn a valuable lesson. We can’t all be the best at everything. Somebody’s got to ride the bench to support the starters. (In musical terms, every first chair violin needs a strong second fiddle).

But playing second fiddle isn’t always easy.

Remember Joseph called Barsabbas? Probably not. Barsabbas is one of Scripture’s bench players.

In Acts 1:23-26, the eleven apostles had gathered together to replace Judas Iscariot. Two men were put forward for a vote: Matthias and Barsabbas.

Matthias was selected and went on to serve alongside the twelve. But I wonder what happened to Barsabbas?

At this point, I can only speculate. But I’m fairly sure that if Barsabbas was the quality of man whom the eleven would consider to join them, he probably handled “benching” in a Christ-like way.

I sincerely doubt he called for a recount or accused anyone of voter disenfranchisement.

Instead, I can only imagine that he embraced his second fiddle role in the same way Jonathan embraced his support role toward David.

In I Samuel 18 & 19, Jonathan, the natural heir to Saul’s throne, knew that David was God’s anointed choice to be King. Instead of competing with David for the position, Jonathan took joy in supporting David and protecting him from his father, King Saul. At one point, Jonathan was even willing to risk his life for his friend.

It’s a beautiful picture of Christ. If anyone had the right to be the all-star, it was Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6).

If you have ever felt belittled for filling the bench-role, consider this. Jesus chose the support role when He came to earth, “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8).

But lest we think second fiddle means less important, consider the next verse: “therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…” (Phil. 2:9).

The real issue is not whether you are a starter or a bench warmer in the kingdom. What’s important is embracing the role God has created you for and called you to. In God’s economy, that is called faithfulness.

While we can’t be sure what happened to Barsabbas, I’ve got to believe that he probably spent the rest of his life supporting the twelve –including Matthias.

So how can you embrace your calling when you find yourself in the bench role?

1)   Remember that titles and positions are not what are important. Faithfulness to you role is what matters. It’s an issue of character.

2)   Take advantage of your support role to identify with Christ. Take joy in finding ways to go “over the top” by serving those around you.

3)   Show those around you a godly example of how to ride the bench –chances are, they will have their turn sometime soon.