Always a Bridesmaid

by Dave Anderson

“Now a discussion arose between some of Johns disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, He Who was with you across the Jordan, to Whom you bore witness—look, He is baptizing, and all are going to Him.’ John answered, ‘A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from Heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, “I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.” The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegrooms voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.’” John 3:25-30

I was cleaning out my closet the other day, starting to purge some items that I hadn’t worn in a while. I came across two pairs of pants and a few shirts that I had purchased years ago for some weddings that I was asked to be part of. I had only ever worn these items once (for the actual wedding), and as I was tossing them into the giveaway bag, I started to reminisce about those times.

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to be a best man or a maid of honor, then you know what a privilege it is to have stood by your friend on their special day. However, you also know that it’s not all rainbows and gumdrops. In order to fulfill your duties as best man/maid of honor, it’s likely that you will have to take some vacation time off work. It’s likely that you will have to spend money on travel, gifts, and clothes that you will never wear again. It’s likely that you will be one of the first people to set up for the event, run around all day to make sure the wedding is on schedule, and be one of the last people to leave after cleaning up. It is not a glorified position, but it is an honor.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” Well, in case you haven’t yet realized this, let me fill you in. In our workplaces and in our personal ministries, the position of “bridesmaid” is going to be our anthem. We are going to play a support role more often than not. You will work hard, do the job as best as you can, and not receive enough credit for everything that was accomplished. I talk to a lot of people that are discontent with their jobs, and I believe it’s because they feel under-appreciated and unnoticed.

A quick word to the wise: if you are in a position of leadership, work hard at making your staff/volunteers/support positions feel appreciated and loved. It goes a long way! (We all need to be better at this!)

Because a majority of my world is church ministry, I find myself having similar conversations with other pastors/ministry leaders. Unfortunately, a resounding theme from people that work in churches is frustration. They’re frustrated with leadership, they feel like their voice isn’t heard, their ideas are not welcomed, and they feel like the giftings and passions that God put inside of them are not being put to use.

Let’s take a second and read John 3:27. “John answered, ‘A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from Heaven.” Isn’t it funny that we get jealous of the success of others? Here’s a transparent moment: one of the biggest obstacles our worship staff at Red Rocks has had to deal with is the success of individuals on our own team. The spirit of competition has, at times, left me (us) bitter and jealous. From the outside, that may sound silly, but the truth is that we are all human and have our own insecurities. (Even John’s disciples were experiencing this same thing in John 3.) We have some high-caliber, high-functioning, talented people on our team that have achieved different levels of ‘success’ at different times over the last few years. And when you see somebody on your team gain success while your platform is not getting any bigger, the natural response is to play the comparison game, and it leaves you feeling like you’re “always the bridesmaid.”

As a team, we’ve had to combat this me-thinking, and re-wire our brains and hearts to champion one another and celebrate when someone else succeeds. Because of John 3:27, a win for any one of us is a win for the team. Sometimes you GET to be the best man or the maid of honor.

I love John’s attitude in the scripture, “This joy of mine is now complete.”

John “THE BAPTIST” was his name. That’s what he did. He baptized people. But now this Jesus fella is coming into the picture, doing the same job as John; and as Jesus starts to gain a larger platform, John rejoices in the outcome. Why? Because they’re on the same team.

What if you and I could carry this same attitude? What if we could champion this idea of “Best Man/Maid of Honor” in our workplaces and ministries? John knew that he was created to be a support role (verse 28), and he was completely content with that.

Instead of being frustrated in our current role, let’s choose to handle our teams with excellence and love. If we did that, we wouldn’t have to fight for positions because a team mindset doesn’t allow room for hierarchical threats. The spirit of honoring and serving one another would move to a whole new level, and I think that’s something that God would want to bless.

Lord, give us Your wisdom and Your insight. Let us trust in Your timing for promotions and be content and joyful in those seasons we get to play a support role.