A few years ago I went through a series of fairly intense assessments while making some major life and career decisions. The person I hired to help me figure out my life, after reviewing my tests, came to a quick and firm conclusion: Joe Boyd is a performer.
When she said that to kick off our meeting I had two distinct and immediate emotional reactions:
2. And that’s a bad thing.
The truth is that I am hard-wired to perform – to speak, teach, produce, improvise, act and write. And I’m not at all a pure artist. I only like doing those things with people watching. At the bottom of it all are some very dark and scary motivations: to be popular, to be needed, to be important, to control others, to acquire money or fame. I hate those things, but I’d be lying to myself to say they aren’t there. The truest thing I can say is that they are there, but they aren’t there nearly as much as they used to be.
Truth is, I should have had a third reaction to her comment:
3. It’s also a good thing.
The older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin…and with my own faith journey. I’m never going to not be a performer. My only hope is to become a redeemed performer: to use my urges to be seen in away that benefits others more than myself.
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be the leading actor in a movie coming out in over 40 theaters nation-wide, I would have acted humble but been inwardly proud. I would have thought about the perceived glory in that. The truth is that the greatest thing God has ever done for me is to consistently give my all of my life dreams AFTER I don’t want them anymore.
When I was 25 I wanted to be a mega-church pastor.
When I was 30 I didn’t want that at all.
It happened when I was 35.
When I was 30 I wanted to be a movie star.
When I was 35 I gave up on that dream.
Now at 40, I am not movie star, but I am starring in a pretty darn legit movie.
I tried to get out of acting in A Strange Brand of Happy no less than ten times. Every time I tried to quit, Brad Wise, the film’s director and my friend and collaborator, convinced me that I was the best man for the job. The main reason I didn’t want to act in the movie was that I was worried about people questioning my motivations. Brad pushed and pushed. Luckily, I find the release of this movie timing up perfectly with a true inner sense of not needing anyone to approve of my motivations. Think whatever you want to think about why I do what I do. I honestly don’t care if you think bad things about me. Thank God, I’m not that way anymore except for occasional short bouts of ego-inflated remission. (Side note: Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward closed the deal for me on this. I recommend it to anyone ready to move beyond needing approval or success in life. There is a second half of life that is exponentially more fulfilling than the first half.)
So here’s the deal: I’m starring in a movie opposite Shirley Jones, the Academy Award winner for Best Actress in Elmer Gantry, a favorite movie of mine somewhat ironically about both preaching and acting. That’s a cool thing, but it’s not a big deal to me. What is a big deal to me is that I have been allowed co-tell stories of hope and faith in a world that needs that more than anything else.
I feel like the luckiest preacher in the world…I get to proclaim good news outside of the church walls to people who don’t even know they are getting it. I love that God is letting me do this – and to top it off, I get to do it with my friends. I can’t prove this to anyone, but all I care about in regard to this project is the story. I want people to believe, if just for a second, that perhaps there is a God…and perhaps that strange brand of happy you feel when everything suddenly feels right…perhaps that is a taste of heaven. Maybe what Jesus called the “Kingdom of Heaven” can break in anywhere. Like a movie theater in Canton, Lexington, Las Vegas, Kansas City or Dayton.
So here’s what all this means for you:
I need your help.
I don’t want you to help me become famous or make money or be successful. I need you to help me get people to see this movie. My friends and I have devoted three years of our lives to create a story that sparks hope and action. We want people to see it. Of that, I am unashamed.
So here’s how you can help me get this story to lots of people:
1. Fork over some American greenbacks and pre-buy a block of tickets for you and your friends. I know it’s really silly to buy tickets for a movie four months in advance. I’ve never bought tickets for a movie more than one day in advance. But the bottom line is that we haven’t yet proven to the Hollywood decision makers that we can sell tickets to our movies. If we sell tickets now, they will take notice. (Money is their love language.) More tickets now = more theaters opening in more cities on September 13th = more people seeing the movie in more cities = a little more hope bubbling up in the world.
It’s that simple. So please reserve your seats today.
2. If you live in any of the 42 markets currently booked, please consider connecting us to your pastor or a community leader who can help us get the word out. Or volunteer to join one of our street teams in each city.
3. If you live in another city where the movie isn’t scheduled to play and you think you can lead an effort to pre-sell 500 tickets, then we can open up in your town. Again, contact us. (Pastor friends, we can work with you to sponsor it through your church as an outreach for non-churchgoers.)
4. Sign up for weekly email updates and stay in the know.
6. Have a little patience with me if I talk about it too much. It’s important to me. I’m eerily silent during presidential elections, so maybe I’ve bought a little grace to talk about my passion area? I will try to be careful not to annoy you…
7. Pray for all of us involved. Sign up for Rebel Pilgrim prayer updates by sending an email to email@example.com. We sincerely believe this matters more than anything else.
I just asked for a lot. But I think I’m ok with that.
We have but one life…and when we find what we were put here to do it seems best to me to talk about it and to invite others to join the adventure.
So, join me in telling this story. I’d be honored.
Here’s a video explaining more about the movie:
And here’s the trailer:
*If you receive my blogs via email, you may have to go to www.strangehappymovie.com to see the videos.