Dec 5, 2010

Know Your Role

I am drawn to a particular kind of movie (and tv show).  It is the one where there is an ordinary guy who must become extraordinary to save those around him.  It could be that he is forced into this position.  It could be that he fights it before ultimately embracing it. But this general theme is laced through my favorite movies.  It is why I like Batman and Iron Man more than other superheroes.  They aren't gifted with any superhuman abilities - with the exception of great wealth.  They decide they have to do something to rectify the evil going on and then make it happen.  But, underneath the suits and weapons, they are just guys fighting to save the people around them.  (Granted, their circle of influence is larger than most people's.)

This is one of the reasons the Harry Potter series resonates so much with me.  It is just an ordinary boy who has to become extraordinary.  Everything he does is to save people.  He becomes a warrior because he has to.  We see this in The Matrix, Braveheart, Burn Notice, Chuck.  I am drawn to those adventure.  I want to see myself in that role.  I guess I always have seen myself there.  I'm just an ordinary guy who sees that people need rescued and wants to lead the charge.  There are actually times where I have trouble disconnecting mentally from a movie because I desperately want to experience that thrill of fighting and defending.

I have always been the one in front.  I gravitate towards leadership positions.  Rarely am I satisfied to sit idly by in a meeting or Sunday School class.  I don't force myself into the limelight - I'm not an attention hog.  It is just the way I'm built.  I'm a leader.  And other people see that and want me to take that place.  I am not going to stage a coup to take over.  But if there is a void of leadership or an opportunity to step up, I will do it.  I had a leadership position in every club I was a member of in high school.  If I was active in a group in college, I usually ended up in an officer role.  When we start attending a church, it is usually just a matter of time before I'm teaching a class.

The problem is that right now, for this period of my life, I am not able to follow my usual pattern.  Due to my responsibilities with the kids, Heather's school schedule, commitments with Defender Ministries, and travel, I am not able to step into leadership.  I actually don't have any opportunities to be that at all.  And it is frustrating.  I'm not used to sitting in a class and having to listen week after week - thinking of how I would teach the lesson.  It has not been my lot in life to just watch things happen and not be an active part of making them happen.

One of our new favorite shows is Blue Bloods.  It is about a family with a long history of law enforcement. The father is police commissioner.  The one brother is a detective; the other is a rookie cop who just switched from law school.  The sister is a district attorney.  There even is a brother who died in the line of duty.  The family is the kind that I was mentioning earlier - ordinary good people wanting to make a difference.  Then there is the grandfather.  He used to be police commissioner.  But he was forced out due to politics and his own age and failing health.  Now he has to sit by and watch the rest of the family make a difference - and he's left cooking for their weekly dinners and offering the occasional piece of wisdom (often unheeded).  You can see the frustration in his face.  He wants to be out there.  His heart is still on the battlefield, but he has been forced to the back.  For the last few weeks, I have felt that way.  It has been very frustrating.

Today, something came to me that really got me thinking.  For the time being, my role really has changed.  I am not supposed to be the front.  I need to support from behind.  That is an uncomfortable place to be for me.  I'm sure some of this is pride and ego.  Some of it is just that it feels unnatural.  But that is the reality of the situation.  Our society loves to promote and embrace the hero, the superstar, the biggest and best.  We don't think about the people behind the scenes making that happen.  I am very guilty of this.  I mean, look at this entire post.  I am unhappy that I am not top banana.  I keep on mistakingly believing this whole thing is about me.  If I really was wanting to see my world changed, it wouldn't matter who is doing the job - just that it is getting done.

Those people on top can't make it without people behind them.  For every Harry Potter, there are dozens of Neville Longbottoms and Luna Lovegoods that also are battling.  Bruce Wayne has Alfred and Lucius Fox.  Tony Stark has Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan.  William Wallace would never have become the hero he was without Uncle Argyle and Hamish.  Those people know their roles and do them well.  The victory is just as much won through their efforts - even though that movies are not usually made about them.

I know there are things I can do in this place.  And I know they will have an impact.  And I wrote a few weeks back, I have started contacting the people on my Facebook friend list.  Mostly, this consists of sending them a message to encourage them.  So far, I have gotten a response from everyone I wrote but one.  Each one of them has said that the message meant so much, that it came when they needed it most. That is important.  I remember when I was running a ministry.  It gets to be lonely and stressful.  You usually only hear from people when they are upset at you.  It meant so much to get a positive note.  I can offer that to people.

Also, the entire Sunday School lesson was about how important it is to pray.  I fail at this so much.  One thing I have now is time.  I certainly could spend time each day praying - for my family, for friends, for Heather's classmates, for ministers and teachers around me.  That is something I can do that fits into my schedule.  Prayer is important.  Even if I can't physically be out there working and fighting, I can at least be praying for people.

It is a mindset - just like my weight loss efforts.  I have to choose to accept my role and embrace it.  Back in the day, Dwayne Johnson the actor was The Rock the wrestler.  He had a statement he used to yell before a match.  "KNOW YOUR ROLE AND SHUT YOUR MOUTH!!!"  It was a pretty arrogant and rude line that took a shot at the jobber entering the ring.  But it brings a level of truth with it as well - at least for me.  If I want to stay miserable, I can keep wishing for something bigger and better.  I can strain against my situation. Or I can accept the secondary role and work as hard as I can to help the people around me.  It still is an ordinary guy trying to change his world - it just isn't leading from the front.  It is helping from behind the scenes.  It isn't about me anyway, right?  Know my role.  Shut my mouth.  Get it done.

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