Sometimes a Star, Sometimes an Extra

“Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?”  Isaiah 45:9

When I was an actor, I always had a lot more fun being in the starring role.  As we go through our lives, we sure would rather be the star in our own production.

Being the most important person in every situation is often our goal.  We want to believe that everything would be just a bit worse if we weren’t there.  We want to know that every situation is one that God ordained with us at the center.  “All things work together for good for those that love God.”  See?  It’s always about me!

Many modern, mega-churches draw their membership with assurances that God’s Word promises comfort and wealth.  These modern churches preach a gospel of prosperity and success.  Earthly prosperity and success, that is.

We should, however, recall that Jesus warned His disciples that they should expect troubles.  If the world persecuted Him, they should expect no less.  Christianity means having a big target on your back…for Satan.  He works harder for what he does not have.  So Christians should be quite happy when things are going well for them.  Likewise, they should be even more prayerful and even joyful, as the scriptures tell us, in adversity.  Adversity produces character and hope, if we rely on God and persevere through our troubles.

That being said, we are always crossing the paths of other people.  Sometimes our lives are intertwined with others’.  Sometimes we simply glance off someone else’s life, never to be seen again.  And who’s to say who is the star of that scene?  Are they there at a pivotal moment to move our lives along, or did God put us up against them to help them?  Who’s the star and who’s the extra?

For many years I was  in a leadership role, both at work and at church.  I held an enviable training position at a Fortune 100 company, and I was able to help a lot of people improve their lives.  I ran management classes myself, plus I managed 3 degree programs my company had running with three different colleges and universities.  I was the man!

I was very active at church, conducting the liturgy at one of our three services every Sunday morning.  Years of daily bible study had me in a position to make a lot of contributions in Sunday bible classes, which people generally reacted well to.  Again, I was the man!

So I was a star in both my private and professional lives.  And I was benefitting many people in the process.  That felt pretty good.

Then the economy tanked, and I lost my job.  I also lost a lot more.  Depression and stress ensued to a degree that had me wondering what would become of me and my family.  After several years I began to feel that I didn’t have more than 1-2 years left to live.  The stress was that bad.

During that time, our new pastor came and asked me to run for president of the congregation.  He said he’d gotten my name from a number of members who thought I’d make a good choice.  I originally declined.  I just didn’t see how I could do it.  But a week later, it was as if God put a burden on my heart to accept, so I did.  I was narrowly elected.

I was an utter failure.  I didn’t have the energy for it and I didn’t have the emotional stability to endure the unavoidable politics.  After just over a year, I could go no further.  I asked God why He gave me the call to do it but took away the abilities I had had to do it.  I was distraught and resigned.

In stepped the vice president.  He chaired the next voter’s meeting, which was contentious and fraught with land mines.  He steered the meeting with a skill I could only wish for on my best day!  He was the star!  He has gone on to get a lot of problems solved that I was unable to tackle.  I realized that God just wanted me to keep the seat warm until it was his time.

I was definitely the extra in this chain of events.  It was about just being the warm body needed to hold the chair until the star took the stage.  Kind of humbling, huh?  But I ended up being OK with that.  Even relieved.  Now I know why things happened the way they did.  That in itself is a gift.  I’ve experienced other situations where I don’t think I’ll ever understand what happened.  Faith is the only answer.

Will the pot complain to the Potter about how it’s made or what is put in it?  Probably not the best idea.  Just keep on living.  Keep on moving.  I like to say that, because He gave us free will, not even God can steer a car that’s not rolling.  We need to keep going.  Let God have the wheel.  Know that God does make everything work together for those that love Him.

 Sometimes it takes a while, and sometimes you’re nothing more than the proverbial spear-chucker.  But…

 “…I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”  Psalm 84:10


What do you think?  Are you a star or an extra?  Are you OK with whatever you are?  I and other readers want to know what you’re thinking!

2 thoughts on “Sometimes a Star, Sometimes an Extra

  1. I almost thought I was reading my story. I too had a GREAT job with a good company until the economy tanked. I lost my job and dealt with the things you talked about. I have had a couple of temp jobs since then, but nothing permanent…yet!
    I was a part of a great congregation of which I was the associate pastor. I won’t go into here, but a lot of stuff happened. Lies were told and things were done to me that I still question to this day. I’m JUST fine being the extra! I do NOT want to be the star, unless its what God has planned for me in my life. Some things we will never understand, no matter how hard we try. I’m just glad nothing surprises God, and that he knows what’s best, because I’d make it a hot mess!

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