Lessons at a Literary Contest

I was so proud of our granddaughter and her close friend who recently participated in a county-wide literary contest for junior high students. Chloe and Luisa shared a duet dramatic piece by Ken Bradbury called "Teen Age Idol." that involved the interaction between two good friends, Brittany and Cydney. Cydney, played by Chloe, is star struck, but insecure and lacking confidence. Brittany who is well-grounded, calmly reassures her friend that she has a good heart and is valued for  more than her successes.

Parents and grand parents laughed and smiled with pride in all the appropriate places as these two budding thespians acted out their story with enthusiasm and expressive gestures. I looked over at one family member during the performance and saw her teeth clinched with nervous anticipation. It had me wondering if this competition was more stressful for the spectators than the performers!

After the presentation was over, these two young ladies stepped forward to hear the feedback from their judge. The comments were gushing! "Is this your first competition? Wow! That was incredible! You both seemed so natural! I loved your expressions and involvement with the characters! You never bobbled a single line!" She continued on with her generous and positive critique, but then in the final sentence or two, felt obliged to say that she would have appreciated more use of the space to stand and move about. To be clear though,, she didn't want either of the girls to conclude that they hadn't done an outstanding job for two six-graders in their first year of drama competition!
Competition for Thespians!

I have a degree in speech communication and yet was never able to memorize lines like that and deliver them with such poise. These girls are such naturals! But it is more than that. It is a blessing to know that these girls are both Christians who live out their young faith at school, church and in our community. Some criticize today's youth as if they are nothing but selfish trouble makers. But, there are plenty of good kids who are talented and service-oriented. These bright and beautiful youth are growing up to make a positive impact on our world for the cause of Christ.

What lessons do we learn by putting ourselves out there in such a literary contest? There are many! This level of competition requires discipline and commitment. There are characters to bring to life, lines to commit to memory and space to use or map out as well as props to manage for dramatic effect. Many things go into what seems to only be a simple little drama of a few minutes duration.

I think there are some notable takeaways in these competitive ventures. These exercises build confidence and faith. Christian kids come away from this investment of time believing in themselves in ways that God can use to develop them as students and believers. They learn to regard future opportunities and challenges favorably and with a healthy "can do spirit." They welcome these life lessons that require trust in God for doing our very best. And further, these competitions also instill a positive value for constructive criticism that makes you better. Hearing feedback from experienced persons shapes and develops us for the next challenge whatever it may be.

Jesus always gave His disciples straight-forward counsel for their mission adventures on His behalf. After a failed ministry opportunity, they requested feedback as to why they were not able to help a troubled person. Jesus spoke plainly, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed... Nothing will be impossible for you."  (Matthew 17:19-21). The disciples needed to learn how to trust God implicitly for all they needed. And so do we!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


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