My sophomore year of high school I was in a school play. It was my first real year doing anything theater related, which would eventually define my high school experience. The show was amazing. I still think about this play all the time. It was an original that was written by my theater teacher and was a spin-off of Robin Hood. It was Robin Hood but set in a post-apocalyptic future. Genius. Like all plays, there were auditions, so of course I tried out for it. I tried out for the part of Robin of course because why would I want to be anything else, right? Soon after auditions the cast list was posted and I got the part of... Locksley. Not Robin. Which is totally fine. It takes a cast to make a show, not one part. But I tried out for the main character and got a role that was at most a background character that provided some comedic relief here and there.
But either way, I was in the show.
Rehearsals started, we got the script, we did a read through, we got going on making this thing happen. I started memorizing my lines for Locksley. I started trying to understand the character and put myself into his shoes. I was going to be the best Locksley I could be.
And then the guy who was playing Robin got expelled. Straight up got kicked out of the school. Like who could have seen that coming? We had this show rolling and then the lead role was suddenly not filled anymore. We had to replace him. Our director went to one of the other guys and offered him the role but he turned it down because he was to busy with basketball. So then my director offered it to…
This was it. This was my chance. Mostly shy and under the radar 15 year old Ian got his chance to shine. So I took it immediately.
I never cared about the third-string part. All I cared about was that I got the part I had wanted the whole time. I got Robin.
Like I said, I still think about that show and that role all the time. That show was one of the best things to ever happen to me.
I think I learned quite a bit from that whole experience.
Sometimes you don’t get picked.
Sometimes you get overlooked.
Sometimes you fade into the background and just hope someone sees in you what you know you have inside of you. But that just never happens. It's so rare.
So what do you do about it when that happens?
You still show up.
You go to “rehearsal”, whatever that means for your context, despite not having the part you wanted. You show up, you do the work, you give it all you got, and even when people don’t see you or appreciate you or place any sort of value on what you’re doing, you still do it.
You don’t wait for someone to pick you. You pick yourself. You say, "even if no one cares, I’m gonna rock what I got.”
How many times have we used excuses like, “no one cares”, "no one sees me”, “it’s not important”, “I feel stupid for wanting to do that”, “I can only do that if I work for ____.” I've been paralyzed by all of these before. These are the voices in my head that have kept me from doing work I care about.
For me, I want to be a pastor. I feel like I have a vision for the Church and the local church. But I don’t get to choose if I get the job or not. I don't get to make someone hire me or not. I can’t make anyone do anything. But that doesn’t get to stop me from doing what I know matters every day.
I've been convicted recently about my time and how I use it. If I have a free morning or evening, am I sitting around on my phone or watching YouTube (especially mindless, unhelpful videos) or am I “making the best use of my time?” (Eph 5:16). That's not to say that escapism isn't important every now and then, but if there is really a way in which I want to make a difference, I have to make the way I use my time reflect that.
If I want to see a culture of discipleship in the church, I have to hang out with students and disciple them myself. If I want to see a culture of biblical literacy, I have to study the Bible personally and not just wish everyone else would too. If I want to see a culture of encouragement, it starts with me sending encouraging texts or intentionally saying encouraging words to the people close to me. If I want to preach one day, it starts with me spending time honing the messaging that I think are important. It starts with me reading a book that fills my mind and heart.
It starts with me actually taking the time to write this blog post and fight the voices that tell me it doesn't matter.
AND THAT’S JUST ME
That's not to mention my friends and wife who actually are pastors. My friend who’s a rising star hair dresser. Two of my friends who want to be professional writers. My friend who just decided that design has been her thing all along and is starting to chase that. My friend who's a student in high school who wants to combine photography and missions.
And even that is just my immediate circle of friends. I have no idea what that means for you.
Which brings me to the final part of this.
Maybe one day you will get picked. But you don’t get picked on ideas and you don't get picked on words.
You get picked on action. You have to put the work in.
A more churchy way of saying this is: you have to be faithful. It’s Eugene Peterson’s famous, “A Long Obedience In The Same Direction.” That’s the whole game. That's what it's all about.
Show up every single day with your whole heart in it and maybe, just maybe, someday you’ll get noticed.
But honestly, that's not even the point. It’s helpful, but it’s not the goal.
As Christians, we strive to work from a place of knowing that God already sees us and knows us and he picked us a long time ago, way before any job or leader or view count or anything else ever mattered.
I think that's where the freedom of it all comes in. Of course we’d like to get noticed and picked. But we already have been and that's where we start. We get to work and make things that matter from a place where we’re already accepted and noticed and picked and everything we do has inherent value to it just by being made from the love of God in us.
I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s the fire right there. That's encouraging.