by Mark A. Taylor
It happened at the end of both performances. As I stepped from backstage to take my bow before the audience applauding in the Waukegan High School auditorium, the crowd began to stand. It was our spring musical, Camelot, and I had the lead role of King Arthur. It didn’t matter that the hall was full of friends and family members, eager to encourage the teenagers onstage. At age 18, I had no thought that they might be biased. I was certain our show was excellent and we’d earned their standing ovation.
And the glory of that golden moment is still fresh in my memory, almost 50 years later.
Savoring the Moment
It’s an experience most people don’t get to have even once. But last year I enjoyed a second standing ovation. Several dozen friends and associates had gathered at my retirement banquet in Kansas City at the 2017 North American Christian Convention. When master of ceremonies Roy Lawson called me to the platform at the end of the program, the room erupted in applause, and those dear people stood and clapped.
It’s embarrassing, really. Several heroes of the faith were in the crowd. Leaders of ministries with accomplishments far beyond mine. Colleagues whose partnership with me had made possible any progress my ministry had achieved. But I had anticipated this ovation. It’s what always happens at events like that one.
Would I had cared if they’d stayed seated?
Standing ovations, in fact, have become common. Members of Congress pop up and down like a jack-in-the-box during each president’s State of the Union address. The applauded sentences are usually neither eloquent nor memorable. The politicians stand merely to show their agreement—or simply to be seen standing.
More than one theater critic believes standing ovations are becoming meaningless. Most Broadway shows enjoy standing ovations for every one of their performances. This is true for productions that please audiences for years as well as failures that flop after only a few days.
So I had decided not to take too seriously the applause I anticipated. But I would not engage in a show of false humility. I would not ask the audience to stop clapping and sit down. I would just smile and savor the moment—because I knew another like it may not come to me again.
Would I had cared if they’d stayed seated? The proper answer may be no, but I confess that’s not how I respond. Whether from an inflated ego or a fragile self-image or regret for the realities of how I could have done better, the answer is the same. I need the affirmation.
Serving with No Fanfare
But upon reflection, I realize how many others deserve it too. I see them all around me:
- The Christian couple who cared for their disabled and diseased daughter for 10 exhausting years until she died with her incurable condition—and they’re still serving God today.
- The Christian father, deserted by his wife with two preteens at home, who persistently and strategically worked to rear them, and now they are whole and healthy young adults.
- The retired home economics teacher who marshals dozens of volunteers at her church to complete projects that bless hundreds in Jesus’ name.
- The minister whose wife slipped into early dementia, yet he still finds ways to serve many while walking with her through a shadowy maze toward an unfortunate future.
I can only imagine how much affirmation means to them.
These are just a few people I know serving well with no fanfare and little recognition. I can only imagine how much affirmation means to them. Even if I can’t gather a crowd to clap, I can speak a word, send a note, or ask others to thank them too.
It’s important. I know, because I’ll forever cherish the memory of a few, fleeting minutes when others applauded for me.
posted on September 10, 2018
Meet the Author:
Mark A. Taylor served in a variety of editorial, marketing, and management roles at Standard Publishing (now Christian Standard Media) for almost 41 years. His last assignment was as publisher and editor of Christian Standard 2003-2017. He and his wife, Evelyn, are active members with Christ’s Church in Mason, Ohio, and Mark continues to write from their home north of Cincinnati (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Other Rivulet Collective articles by Mark A. Taylor:
Free at Last