Julia is a foreign exchange student who is enrolled in my drama class and hangs out in my room after school. Julia tried out for the fall musical and was given the role of the seamstress, a character who appears in three scenes and has a few lines. The Monday after I posted the roles, Julia wasn't her usual jovial self, and after school I found out why.
"Mrs. LaRoche, do you think I have any talent? I want to become a professional actress, but if you think I don't have talent, then I will give up my dream." I was bothered by Julia's question and assured her that she was, indeed, talented. I then questioned if she was disappointed with her role and explained that our students work their way up to leads by filling the minor parts their first couple of years of high school.
"Oh, okay, but I was in hopes I could at least have a small part."
I pointed out to Julia that she did have a small part and even had a few lines. Others didn't have even that. She was shocked. "What do you mean, I 'have lines'?" she asked.
Thinking our language differences were to blame, I explained that she would say a few sentences in the play.
"But how do I do that if I'm the seamstress?"
And then it hit me -- Julia thought she was in charge of making the costumes for the play and did not understand that she played the role of the seamstress. I started laughing and explained the difference. Julia jumped from her seat and repeated, between giggles, two or three times, "I have lines? I'm on the stage? I get to act?"
"Yes, Julia, you are a character in the play. You will act, just like every other actor, but I'm confused. You initialed beside the cast posting on the auditorium door, indicating you agreed to be the seamstress. Does that mean you were willing to work on costumes to be a part of this play?"
"Mrs. LaRoche, I love theater. I would do anything to be a part of it."
Julia was content to do whatever it took to be involved in the play, and although not joyful about it, she was willing to act sacrificially by accepting her role and doing her best with it. Matthew 25:21 tells of one possible outcome for someone like Julia. A servant who, because he was faithful in a minor role, found himself being "promoted." And even though there is no guarantee of that, God desires that we perform, faithfully, whatever role we've been assigned. If you find yourself in the position like that servant ... like Julia ... what is your attitude? Do you find yourself content, or do you grumble because you've not been given your just desserts, in spite of your dedication and hard work? The servant did not complain or sulk because his talents were being underused, and in the end he was rewarded for his attitude. So was Julia.
A few days after my conversation with my student, another actress -- with a bigger role -- had to drop out. Guess who was promoted. Faithful in the small part, Julia had shown me what I was looking for. Maybe there is a lesson there for all of us. If we are content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves, we may find that some better things are in store for us. It is all about attitude. And, if we have the right attitude, then we don't have to worry too much about contentment; it most certainly will find us.