Monday, October 20, 2014

Starring Role or Supporting Actor?

Did you know the phrase "always a bridesmaid, never a bride," was coined in 1925 in a Listerine advertisement? It's a phrase we've probably all used at one time or another, without giving second thought to where it came from. Beyond its literal translation, its definition implies describing a person who's potential is never fulfilled. Leaving something on the table. Not cashing in on the hand you're dealt. A good supporting actor, but not star material. Use of the word always seems to insinuate that the personality trait can't ever be shaken. Are some are born to be indians, never to be chiefs? Just as a person is either an introvert or an extrovert, are we destined to either sing lead or sing backup?

Over the last 30 days, I've had the privilege of having a front row seat to watch someone else's dream unfold. In my new role at Loehr Chiropractic & Acupuncture, I'm a part of an awesome team that supports the vision and dreams of one entrepreneurial doctor. Not that Springfield Ballet was my dream, by any means, but in my previous role, I carried out the dreams of a founding Board no longer involved in the day to day operations of the organization. I was in the driver's seat. After my career transition, some might argue I've gone from a starring role to a supporting part. A bride turned bridesmaid. A chief turned indian. But here's the thing I'm finding out. Following your own dream, or sharing in someone else's, are equally emotional and equally rewarding experiences. 

Growing up, my mother (a retired speech/drama teacher) always told me, "there are no small parts, just small actors." Now, I know there were times when I rolled my eyes and assumed that this only applied when you didn't get the part you wanted! It went in one ear as a sugar-coated consolation prize, and out the other with a chip on my shoulder. The more I study leaders and teams, though, I think she was right. (This is what happens as you get older, right? You start to realize that maybe your parents did know what they were talking about...) Without a good tribe of indians, who needs a chief? And without a lead singer, the backup singers are out of business. God has gifted each of His children with unique gifts and talents, but unless they are combined, they aren't fully effective. 

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously;if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:3-8)

Clearly, God has given us gifts, talents, strengths, and functions. Being in the starring role is not a gift, it's one way to use a gift, but not the only. God allows us to use our gifts in starring and supporting roles, sometimes in the same year, heck, sometimes in the same day! So my challenge (to you and to me) is this, let's define success less by a title and more by an impact on our communities and the people we interact with. Let's applaud the whole band and celebrate the whole cast of characters...our Heavenly Father sure does!

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