Psalm 81:2 – Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.

Gratitude Day 856

Great singers amaze me. I so enjoy hearing and watching someone who is really talented musically sing. When they have a great grasp of pitch and know how to express their feelings in their music, well, this is simply magical.

Any talented singer also knows that their supporting cast is super important. The musicians who provide round out their music are just as necessary. This might include a guitar player or two or three, a keyboard player, maybe a drummer. These sounds help make the music and lyrics shine.

But there is also the tambourine player. On first thought, the tambourine player doesn’t seem super important. Is it necessary? Depends on who you ask. If the band is short someone, the tambourine might be the first person eliminated. I think of the tambourine player as the person who adds the icing on the cake; the finishing touches to make the song sound fantastic. You certainly want to keep this player if at all possible. But if choices have to be made, then letting the tambourine player go is probably one of the first choices to be made.

Often, the tambourine player is a back-up singer. Not the shining star in the band. They play the tambourine because, well, they can’t play a guitar or something else. Maybe they can, but another musician is better at the more important instruments. . As long as someone can play to the beat, most anyone can play the tambourine.

Yet, the tambourine adds something to the song. It fills in and gives another dimension. It allows for emphasis to be at a certain point in the song. The tambourine and its player are a super-important supporting cast. They don’t get the limelight but add to the overall picture.

Recently, I was chatting with a friend. She had been on an international trip and traveling with a group of people she didn’t know. While it is in her nature to often take charge, this particular time, she didn’t. She stepped back. Let others take charge. Helped out when needed. Offered support when she could add to the mix. But let herself enjoy being in the background.

She was the tambourine player on this trip. My friend played backup and was happy to do so. Meanwhile, her husband who often is a behind-the-scenes guy. He was the lead singer. The one helping everyone else out. Making sure everyone was safe and ready for the day’s adventure. He helped organize and problem solve and keep everyone in the group connected.

Meanwhile, his wife happily sat in the background ready to rattle her tambourine whenever it was necessary. And thrilled that for these days, she could be the back-up singer and not the lead musician.

There are some people who are born natural leaders. People who love to organize and inspire and make sure things are taken care of. Folks who others look up to. The person who is steady as the day is long and more reliable than taxes.

Then, there is the person who wants to be the lead singer. All. The. Time. The person who thrills in the limelight, wants to draw attention to themselves. The one who everyone else thinks is funny and witty.

We all probably can think of the person who drives us a bit crazy because they aren’t organized. They run by the seat of their pants and basically up for any adventure. Their laid-back nature is refreshing until you are the one who ends up pulling all of their lose ends together at the last minute.

And then, there are the tambourine plyers. The people who truly are interested in getting it “right” for the benefit of everyone else. They need no recognition or compensation. They are simply there, ready to help when called upon.

Truth? We can move through each of these scenarios easily. Depending on the situation, we may need to be the organizer who makes sure everyone else knows the plan. I appreciate these types of people because there is where I tend to spend most of my time. Yes, I can be the in-front person in the right scenario and have been. But the constant attention and stroking of one’s ego isn’t for me all the time. I try not to be an unorganized person and keep some humbleness in my life.

And like my friend, I hope there are times when I simply sit back, observe what else is going on and be the tambourine player. The person who is happy to take a step back, fill in when and where needed, stay on beat with the rest of the crew. I hope my little additions will inspire others and be the cherry on top of the sundae at times.

Here’s the deal. We all need tambourine players in our lives, and yes, sometimes our most important role is simply to be the tambourine player. The end.

Jesus taught his closest group of friends about how to be tambourine players when we invited them and taught them how to serve other people. He reminded them that servant leadership begins with serving others before we expect someone to serve us. Tambourine players need no attention, recognition, or special accolades for simply showing up and doing their job while making sure they stay on beat with the rest of the group.

Tambourine players are willing to pitch in and do whatever. They don’t expect their idea to be the best one all the time. They happily defer to someone else who has a better idea or a necessary skill. They are simply happy to fill in the gaps and add a little something extra when it is their turn.

Don’t get me wrong. We need lead singers and great music to pull the band together.

But we also need tambourine players.

This week, I pray that you will intentionally find a hot minute or two when you can be a tambourine player. When you can help or assist someone else and add a little flare into their lives expecting nothing in return. When you don’t have to be the top of the heap but glad to be part of the supporting cast. Or some other way that you can easily pay something forward with no need for recognition. Simply happy to add to main event and be good with this.

Shake your tambourine all you can this week. Gladly accept when it is best for you to shake those little bells for as long as necessary. Accept this opportunity and be pleased another person can be the leader/organizer/head honcho.

God’s kingdom needs lots of tambourine players. I hope we’ll sign up for the band.  

For the opportunity to be a tambourine player in God’s kingdom, I am very grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – Thank you for granting me special and unique gifts and talents. When I’m called to do something special just for Your kingdom. May I also see and grasp the opportunities when my most important role is simply to shake the tambourine. Amen.

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