"When We Really Want the Applause"
Comedian Tim Hawkins said a turning point for him came when he realized he wasn't in front of an audience to "get laughs." He was there to "give laughter."
His words kept echoing in my mind because there's truth in them that we need. We're all in front of an audience in some way these days. It could be when we post something on social media. It might be when we present during a meeting at work or tell a story around the dinner table with friends. Our natural human tendency in those situations is to ask, "What can I get?" We most likely don't even do so consciously. But underneath we're hoping for . . .
Here's the reality we all must face: an audience can't give us anything we don't already have.
It can't heal our souls. It can't fill us up. It can't prove our worth. Just ask any celebrity who has found fame to be a curse rather than a cure. Instead, every time we find ourselves in front of an audience let's see it as an opportunity to ask like Time did, "What can I give?"
In a great paradox of life, when we are only out to get something we block our ability to receive. But when we open our hearts to pour out, we are in a position to be filled up as well.
"Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:25).
As long as we are trying to get something from an audience we will be afraid. Insecurity comes from believing someone else has the power to withhold what we need most.Serving sets us free because we’re saying, “What I need comes from a higher source. You don’t have to give it to me. And you can’t take it away. Therefore I am free to love you.” Perhaps the most powerful example of this is when Jesus washes His disciples' feet:
"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples' feet" (John 13:3-5).
Jesus could serve because what really mattered was already settled. He was confident in His identity. He knew God had a purpose for Him. He didn't have anything to prove. We don't have to prove anything either. We live for an audience of One. We don't have to perform for His love; we only need to receive it. Then we can freely share it with others.
No applause required.