I had a secret desire for most of high school. What I told no one was that I really, really wanted a role in one of our high school musicals. I kept this a secret because while I sang in choirs and played an instrument, my voice just wasn’t pretty, so I knew the idea of landing a part was far-fetched.
But my senior year I decided to put myself out there and try out for a part in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. So, I prepared… and prepared… and prepared… and on the day of the tryouts, I felt confident despite my substandard voice.
I sang my heart out (perhaps to the dismay of the judges), and when the parts were finally posted, I scrolled my finger down the list and came across a first name that was the same as mine. My heart skipped a beat. But then I noticed the last name was different by three letters. I considered that maybe the judges made a spelling error as I reflected on what I thought was a stellar performance.
But alas, there was a ninth grader who had a name nearly identical to mine. And she landed a role. And I… did not.
As a parent, I’ve watched my kids gravitate toward theatre through the years, and I’ve had multiple opportunities to encourage them, support them, go over lines with them, console them, and even redirect them.
But more important than any of these supportive gestures, it’s essential that we examine how the gospel informs our conversations with our kids, and in particular with our theatre-loving children.
The Good News of the Gospel
The word “gospel” means good news, and that good news covers every inch of our life. It is good news that we have a restored relationship with God, and it’s good news that we are forgiven, shown mercy and grace, and have eternal hope in Christ. All of this is true and should be manifested in our gospel-centered conversations with our kids.
But when it comes to our stage performers, there are two aspects to the good news of the gospel that are particularly important as we engage with our teens about their desire to perform: as believers, they are in Christ, and every detail of our existence is purposeful, happening both for our good and for God’s glory.
As Christians, our Identity is In Christ
I floundered through the weeks following my audition. It took so much courage to try out that the rejection caused me great embarrassment. What I was longing to know, though I didn’t understand it at the time, was that my identity did not hinge on landing a certain role.
It’s easy for performers to fall prey to the lie that they have meaning because of a perceived talent. When these abilities are not rewarded with a role, a student may feel inadequate.
What the Gospel reminds us of is that our identity is not in what we do but in whom we belong to. And we belong to Christ; we are in Him. We are unique and set apart because we are united fully and completely to our Savior, not because we are on center stage. We are one with Christ Himself– how beautifully profound! Because God sees His Son when He sees His children (2 Cor. 3:18), there is nothing we can do that makes our Savior love us more and nothing we can do to make him love us less.
This aspect of the gospel remains significant when our students do find their names on the cast list. Because we are in Christ, we live and breathe by His strength and His grace, not by our own merit. When our kids do have the opportunity to bask in the spotlight, it’s important to remind them that they do so as vessels of Christ. Our talents are mere expressions of His splendor and creativity, and as they are manifested through us, all glory and honor should be pointed to Him.
As Christians, All Things Happen for Our Good and God’s Glory
The phrase, “All things work together,” has, in some sense, become cliché. In fact, I remember finding these words scribbled on a note in my locker after discovering I didn’t get a part in the musical. But the words brought little comfort because I didn’t understand the depth of their meaning.
The good news of the gospel reminds us that God is Sovereign over all. The truism that “all things work together” stems from Romans 8:28 which affirms for believers that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Rather than offering platitudes when our kids don’t get the role they wanted, parents can offer them the very words of God. Read this whole verse and speak the gospel into the life of your theatre- loving child. Challenge them to memorize the words with the same vigor they put forth memorizing lines for auditions.
This verse reinforces the truth that believers in Christ cannot be more secure. Their past, present, and future is known fully and completely by an omnipotent God. No other religion claims this truth, but the gospel of Jesus Christ hinges on it.
The Lord knows from the beginning of time what roles our kids will play, and which musicals they will watch from the audience. There will be disappointment, and the gospel is the only real antidote. What heals the deep wound from a setback is the truth that every detail of life – every joy, every hardship, and every frustration – has already been perfectly penned in the story of our lives.
And the story that God has written does not compare to the world’s greatest playwright because God’s stories areperfect. There is not one mistake in what He has written, and they are scripted with love beyond understanding. His stories are fleshed out for our good, and every detail brings glory to God.
Whether the pursuit of the stage brings disappointment or delight, offer these Biblical truths. Pray that as they learn to navigate the space on the stage they will grow, with each step, in their understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that He alone may shine through them.