Have you ever been on TV or been an extra in a movie? If the answer is, “yes” then you understand how intoxicating 15 minutes of fame can be and how easy it is to begin thinking of yourself more highly than you should.
That is exactly what happened to me when I worked as an extra in the filming of the movie Frantic with Harrison Ford in Paris, France. Everything went well until the day I was selected for the cut above position as a speaking extra in a scene with Mr. Ford. Between takes we engaged in personal conversations about living in Paris, the cost of oranges at the marché
and the grueling life of an actor that left me feeling we were fast friends and I should have invited him over for dinner with the family.
I impressed everyone I knew with my movie making adventures and personal encounter with Indiana Jones. When the time came, I planned my own movie star party with dinner and tickets to the premier showing of Frantic at a movie theater on the famous Champs Elysees. Beforehand I described in great detail what everyone was to look for and, as the scene approached, whispered loud enough for everyone in the theater to hear, “This is it, this is it!”
The scene came and went without so much as the sleeve of my sweater showing in a single frame. Had there been room under my seat I would have taken up permanent residence there. Instead I buried my face in my husband’s sleeve until I mustered the courage to look at the screen again and then ran like a roach for home when the lights came up. “Humiliated” does not begin to describe what I felt that night.
When you are caught in situations like this, attitude really is everything and being able to laugh at yourself while eating an entire humble pie can be a form of social survival. More importantly, confessing your foolish pride to the Lord and others, accepting His forgiveness and then forgiving yourself allows you to keep the lesson and let go of the pain. Also helpful is moving out of town which the military, praise God, provided not a moment too soon!
It has been my experience that life lessons of this sort take you in one of two directions. Into the thicket of blame and failure where roots of anger and bitterness are sown or into the garden of God’s grace where the weeds of shame and self-loathing are replaced with seeds of humility and servant leadership.
I felt in good company this past week as I reread in the Bible the disciple John’s account of the last supper in the upper room in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel bearing his name. The disciples were feeling pretty heady the night. Not long before they had been with Jesus at the raising of Lazarus from the dead, table turning in the temple and had walked with Him on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Not understanding fully His mission or the New Covenant He had just initiated, the disciples began arguing about their positions of importance and kingdom rank.
Jesus quietly stood, tied a towel around His waist and, with a bowl of water, knelt before them to wash their feet. The humility of His act embarrassed them and knocked the wind from their sails. He was calling them to serve not rule.
As a disciple of Christ, I am called to humble service and every now-and-then, I need a turn on the cutting room floor of life to be reminded of two truths: It is not all about me; and the greatest in the kingdom are those who serve.