Embracing the supporting role

Cory Feldman’s Ricky Butler in “The Burbs” is one of my favorite supporting characters in any movie.

If you haven’t seen this flick, add it to your to-do list and for now, check out this clip of Feldman at his finest.

Now Feldman may, or may not, have ever utter a line in this movie that didn’t include “the pizza dude,” but that’s OK because it’s probably the most quotable line of that entire flick.

[Editor’s note: How could I mention Feldman in a supporting role without also giving a nod to the classic film, “Liscense To Drive?” Honestly, a movie about a kid trying to get his permit that features a girl named Mercedes, does it get any better than that?]

Supporting characters are important like this. They add color, comic relief, and most importantly, their actions almost always direct the audience back to the main character.

But of course not everyone values the supporting cast like this. Not everyone give them their due, and at times, you can even tell an actor playing a supporting character values his or her role just a little too much for his or her own good. (Note: this is often how we get awful TV spin-offs. I mean, everyone can’t be Frasier.)

I get caught doing this a lot in life. I start to see myself as the main character in this world’s plot and start to focus too much on the success of my role.

I doubt I’m alone in this because it’s just too easy to do. I mean, I don’t see anything happening in this world before I first see the tip of my own nose. I don’t hear things without processing my own thoughts along side them at the same time, and I don’t know about you, but I have a constant inner monologue narrating each second of every day.

But the problem is, when I make myself the center of this world’s plot, when it becomes all about me, it quickly becomes very clear that I don’t have what it takes to carry the show. I don’t have all the answers to the problems, I can’t fix all the nutty situations, and I begin to stress out as the show begins to suffer.

When this happens there is really only one thing I can do to make things better. Step back and let the main character take his rightful place as the lead.

As tempting as it is to see ourselves as the main characters, the ones everything revolves around, those are really God’s shoes to fill. He’s the one with the solutions and this world is really his story.

Of course that’s not to say our roles aren’t important, they are very much so.

So were the roles of Abraham, Moses, David, and all of Jesus’ disciples. They were all super important, but they were all also supporting actors, not the lead. They may not have always realized it, neither do we, but when generally the times when they had their greatest successes were times when they were pointing the audience to God, rather than themselves.

I usually find that to be the case for myself as well. The times when I am the least stressed out and feel the most successful are the times when I’m using my talents and passions in a manner that points the audience to God. The times when I’m playing a supporting character.

So my advice when you get stressed out and feel like the weight of the world is all on your shoulders, is to simply relax, embrace your supporting role, and look to the lead.

And don’t worry, pretty soon the pizza dude’s coming.

— @TravisKWilliams

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About travman44

I work as a reporter for a newspaper in southwest Virginia. I play as a writer specializing in deep thoughts on shallow, and occasionally not so shallow, subjects. I'm also a former history teacher, bible college alum, and lover of the NBA and kids' breakfast cereals. It's a delicate blend. -- @TravisKWilliams on Twitter
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One Response to Embracing the supporting role

  1. scriptordeus says:

    Great illustration! It is a constant struggle to not be a navel-gazer, but with God as the main character, He steals the show. Thanks for the encouraging post.

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