Thursday, November 5, 2009

J.O.Y.

"J is for Jesus, our Savior and King. His love and kindness are the reason we sing. O is others, the people we meet. We'll lead them to Jesus by meeting their needs. Y is for You, and though it seems odd; the last shall be first in the Kingdom of God. First, Jesus, and Others, and then there's You; the secret for a JOYful attitude..." - Star of Bethlehem play

It's funny that I remember this tune from the musical play in which my acting career really began at the age of eight. My church at the time was obsessed with childrens plays. Every Christmas time someone would rise to the occasion to direct a Christmas play with sets, props, and lots of cute little girls dressed as heavenly hosts. It's funny that I remember this tune because the message in it ties into what this blog entry is about. Jesus, Others, and You (Self)

On Wednesday, November 4th, I got up at 4:00am to go get ready for the day. Unfortunately, by got up, I don't mean I woke up, as I didn't sleep a wink that night; too excited. I got to the Ministry House, the place our theatre company has its office and our official meeting place before shows. All the props had been loaded the night before, all that was left was our over-sized tech case that holds a mixer, CD player, DVD player, and microphone antennae affectionately named, "Steve." After having to pick up one of our members in a downtown area, getting into a minor car crash (literally the vehicle clipped us at an illegal speed), informing the teachers at a faculty meeting of what we do, and spending hardly enough time in prayer with the rest of the cast of the show we were about to perform; we hit the stage. About 100 little junior high kids from sixth grade to eighth grade were in the audience all watching us with their precious eyes glued to the stage.

The show went off without much a hitch, and that's not to say it was perfect, but considering that we didn't rehearse for the show beforehand with one performance of the show a week prior; it was still a professional show. After going into classrooms and disseminating and reinforcing the concepts presented in the play, and then a light lunch (I try not to eat too much before performances or else risk a severe stomach ache); cast readied themselves for another performance of the same show. Most of us were already tired, but we had to be more energetic than the first show. The second show was much better than the first, and our director thought that it was proof that if you put on a high energy show that even the cheesiest play can attract a senior high crowd. When we had finished performing the second show we had to go into the classrooms and talk with our peers about what was going on. We had mixed feelings about how well that went. We rested for a few minutes, I spent most of that time praying and talking to my director about several things, not least of which were some of the choice words I used in my testimonial speaking to get the point across. When the rest of the cast had arrived for the evening show we had to get to work setting up.

We were in such a crunch to get everything ready for the show that we almost missed dinner. We were supposed to be met by a local church pastor who would take us over to his church and feed us with his youth group. Unfortunately, there was some kind of miscommunication and our director ended up going to the church to pick up whatever leftovers might have been there without knowing whether or not there would be any. Fortunately, the church had three boxes of pizza, two bags of apples, a few clusters of grapes, and double sided generic brand cookies. The whole cast ate quickly, and I mean that within a matter of minutes the two pepperoni pizzas were almost gone except for two pieces we saved for a member who was one the phone at the time the food arrived. It was at this time that I was grabbing food for myself and eating as fast as could that I didn't realize what was happening. I wasn't just eating fast because we had little time to eat, but I was eating quickly to ensure that I would be able to eat enough so that I was not hungry on stage. Truth of the matter was, anyone who hadn't been with us during the day had been at school and went straight from school to the auditorium where we were getting prepared to perform. In others words, we were all hungry and what I had gone through during the day was more or less legitimate of a reason to be hungry than my friends.

Now I'm pretty sure that most people would not blame me for what I did, especially since I didn't hog the pizza to myself and I ate plenty of fruit to help get some natural sugar in my body. But when I think about it, as a leader I have to set the example, and even better leaders look out for the rest of their mates before looking out for themselves. It wouldn't bother me, this whole thing with the dinner we ate, if it weren't for the fact that I've had opportunities in the past as well as this most recent incident where I could have waited for everyone else to eat before eating myself. Some might think that, since my director and his wife among others were present, the only leadership I needed to demonstrate was by eating a "well-balanced" dinner by combining apple, grapes, and pizza instead of just eating cookies and pizza. To that I say, "Yep, you're right." I know that it really doesn't matter, that I did nothing wrong by just about anyone's standard, except my own. Why am I so hard on myself? I'm hard on myself so that I can become more than what I am. When I get down on myself about eating with others, I'm not thinking about what I did wrong then and there, I'm thinking about what I would be doing wrong in the future when the highest authority of man is me.

That tune, J.O.Y., really reminds me of the way I should think. My friend wrote in a correspondence letter a quote from Max Lucado's book, A Purpose Driven Life, "It's not about you." It truly isn't about me, even when I am a leader. A true leader knows that his strength doesn't come from himself, but from God. Keeping that in mind, it's Yeshua who deserves all the glory, honor, and adoration for the things accomplished. He's the first person we should acknowledge. Then others, not only does this mean people other than myself, but the tune was more specifically referring to those who have not yet found their Way to life. Even the hardest of hearts eventually see when a person is truly humble and giving of themselves, putting others before themself, and it's that kind of humility that I pray I can learn to demonstrate. Finally there's you, and that's the self. No life is insignificant, not even oneself, and the principles brought up in the tun are not meant to demean the importance of oneself, but to remind those of us who want to lead the way that we must remember who comes first. John Maxwell points out that true leaders are the leaders who serve others, who are not waiting to be served by the people under them. True leaders are waiting to serve those under their authority. I hope and pray that I can be that kind of leader.

Until next time,
De Facto

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