I got my big chance to be a movie star in eighth grade when casting director David Rubin came to Petal, Mississippi, in search of a kid to star in an upcoming Kevin Costner film called “The War.” With great excitement, I got my brother-in-law to drive me to the local high school for my audition.
After I got there, nobody handed me any lines to memorize; they just took me and the hundreds of other kids, divided us into groups of 50, and herded us into classrooms. After that, a man came in, looked around the room and dismissed us. That was it. My movie career was already a bust – but then I got a chance at redemption.
Days later, Mr. Rubin came to visit the YMCA where I volunteered – apparently, he was still in search of the perfect country bumpkin to appear in the movie. I noticed him walking around, but I didn’t catch his eye. Later, though, I saw him sitting alone in an office and I knew it was my moment to show him that I could be a star.
I stuck my head in the door, awkwardly introduced myself and tried to strike up a conversation, but he barely looked up. Not to be deterred, I started talking about myself to see if it would spark his interest, but he just responded with a bored “Oh really?” And that was the point at which I realized my personal “audition” was a lost cause and shut the door to the office, feeling dejected.
If I were a little younger or cuter, I would’ve gotten that part, I thought many times after that, kicking myself. Later on in life, different people replaced David Rubin – in high school, I sought the approval of the popular girls. In college, it was my pastors. In law school, it was the law firm recruiters who interviewed us for summer jobs.
Those people had power over me – power over my mood, my sense of self-worth, my dreams – and they had that power because I didn’t know where I stopped and they began. I didn’t have boundaries between my aspirations and their approval. Basically, they were the idols I worshipped.
I don’t know what your approval idol is – social media stardom, a pat on the back from your boss, an invitation from someone you admire – but Jesus said that if you live by the sword, you’ll die by the sword (Matthew 26:52). So if you’re going to live for the approval of others, know this: that need is sharp and dangerous and it will drain you of your lifeblood, one incision at a time.
In the end, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a loving spouse, overachieving kids, lots of Facebook likes, a part in a movie, whatever. And after gaining what you thought was the whole world, you’ll eventually look in the mirror and realize that you lost a big chunk of your soul trying to keep your idol applauding for you (Matthew 16:26).
It isn’t worth it. Let’s lay our lives down at the feet of the humble God who gave His life to prove we could trust Him. In the end, it will be His “well done” that really matters (Matthew 25:14-30).