October 20, 2019
Do the best you can with the role you are given
In every arena of life there are stars and there are others with supporting roles. The stars get the accolades. The others get little attention. That’s life. That’s the way it is, like it or not.
There is one thing, however, that the stars dare not forget. Their succeed depends upon the help of the little-known people who serve in supporting roles.
In the movie, True Grit, John Wayne was the star. But he would not have achieved stardom without “Ned Pepper” and his gang of outlaws. He even needed a few rattlesnakes and a tough little tomboy whose name (Kim Darby) only her Mama can remember.
When the New England Patriots take the field, quarterback Tom Brady gets the glory. But he could not win a single game without the help of the other ten men on his team. Can you name the center who snaps the ball to Brady? Take comfort. Tyler Gauthier does not know you name either. But Brady is dependent upon Gauthier snapping the ball correctly into his hands.
Can you remember having major surgery? You probably sought out the most well-known surgeon you could find. You wanted a “star,” not a novice, to cut on you. But you will recall that your star surgeon had 5-8 people on his team. Each had a significant job to do. Had anyone of them failed, you might not be reading this today.
Big people need the help of little people. And there are many more little people than big people. I invite my Native American friends to forgive me for the following example, but I think it illustrates my point. I spent my life working in the church and I was always looking for “chiefs.” Leaders are necessary for the church to function well. Every group of “Indians” need a “chief” who can lead them in the right direction. While there are many Indians and few chiefs, it is also true that a wise pastor can help some Indians become chiefs.
In the New Testament Saint Paul teaches us in his Letter to the Romans an important lesson. The human body has many “members” – hands, feet, eyes, ears, etc. They are not alike; each has its own necessary function. The church, Paul says, is like the body in that it has many members who have different functions. The point of this comparison is that “in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” So, we need each other! We belong to each other. Members of a team, including the “Star,” need each other to achieve success.
The founder of a successful law firm may be his firm’s star, but he or she needs all the others who compose the firm’s team – even the “gofer” who has no law degree but can run necessary errands skillfully. The point of course – little people are just as necessary as big people. Moses needed Aaron and Hur. Saint Paul needed Epaphroditus and Onesimus. `
I love the story (though it is likely apocryphal) of the woman who cleaned the office of Albert Schweitzer at the University of Stragbourg. Schweitzer, having earned a doctorate in Philosophy, was enjoying a remarkable career as a college professor and an acclaimed organist. Although the cleaning woman had little education, she was a devout Christian. Every time she cleaned the young professor’s office, she left her church’s missionary magazine on the corner of Schweitzer’s desk. The magazine focused constantly on the needs of the poor in Africa.
Schweitzer, the story goes, ignored the magazine for months, then began reading it casually, until one day the idea of becoming a missionary doctor consumed him. Putting the magazine down on his desk, he walked across the campus and enrolled in the School of Medicine where he would soon earn another doctorate, this one in Medicine. The rest is history! Could it be that God used the “little” cleaning woman to quietly plant in Schweitzer’s mind the seed of going to Africa as a medical missionary? Whether the story is true or not, it is just like God to use “little” people in such remarkable ways!
Of all the brilliant comments Mother Teresa made, I love this quote the most: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Yes! How important it is to understand that idea! We cannot all be stars, quarterbacks, surgeons or “big” people. Most of us must learn to be content with supporting roles. But we must not be ashamed of our role no matter how small it may be. Little people can do small things with great love! Little people matter! Little people are necessary! The stars cannot shine without them!
Basketball Coach Jim Valvano said it well: “Every single day, in every walk of life, ordinary people do extraordinary things.” So here is the clarion call to all the world’s little people: Do not envy the stars. Do not fret that you are not one. Be content with the role you are given and give it your best every day.
Stardom is not the goal. Faithfulness is the goal. What really matters is living daily so that, when the last bell is rung, you will hear the good Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” So enjoy your role! Do it well! And you will have peace. + + +