Second Fiddle


“We can accomplish far more than we can imagine if we don’t care who gets the credit.” – Dr. David Feddes.

I doubt that many people, excluding biblical scholars, would recognize the name Mordecai Fowler Ham Jr. Ham was a prominent American evangelist in the first half of the 20th century. He had a radio show that reached seven states. While he’s hardly a household name today, God used a single moment in Ham’s life to bring millions of people to Jesus without them ever hearing Ham’s voice.

In November 1934, Billy Graham was converted under Mordecai Ham’s preaching in a revival in Charlotte, North Carolina. Through Ham’s influence with William Bell Riley in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Graham was launched onto a national and international platform of influence and prestige among evangelical ranks. (Wikipedia)

Dr. Billy Graham would become an unmatched force in spreading the word of God for the second half of the 20th century and early into the 21st century. Ham held what many consider to be racist and anti-Semitic views, yet God used his voice to reach a man whose voice would reach the entire globe bringing people to God. In an online Bible college course, Dr. David Feddes compared Ham’s role in launching Graham to that of Barnabas in the Book of Acts, whose encouraging ways led to others accomplishing more than Barnabas.

After Saul’s conversion, many believers in Jerusalem doubted that Saul, now Paul, had truly accepted Christ into his life. But Barnabas took him to the Apostles (Acts 9:27) and explained Paul’s conversion. That’s not all Barnabas did for Paul:

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So, for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:24-26 (NIV)

Barnabas would also encourage John Mark, which would cause friction between Paul and Barnabas. John Mark, also known as Mark, would go on to write one of the four Gospels. Paul and Mark are better remembered than Barnabas, but God used his willingness to lift up others in a way Barnabas likely could not have imagined.

John the Baptist also was comfortable in a similar role. He knew he was born to play second fiddle to Jesus. When his followers complained that Jesus was now baptizing and people were going to Him, John replied:

“A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of Him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:27-30 (NIV).

It’s not human nature to be comfortable with being second fiddle or the opening act for someone else. But it’s often the role God chooses for us. Anytime we listen to God’s direction, we receive the joy, peace and contentment Jesus promised. Mordecai Ham, Barnabas and John may have never fully grasped how God used them. But they are proof that Dr. Feddes is right, we can accomplish far more for God than we can ever imagine if we don’t care who gets the credit.

This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere, WI. 

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