The Quest for Significance
In Robert Bolt’s play, A Man for All Seasons, there is a scene in which Richard Rich, an ambitious young man, asks Thomas More for a position in the court of Henry VIII. Instead, More tells Rich that he should become a teacher, not a courtier—”You’d be a good teacher.” Rich objects: “And if I were, who would know it?” More’s response is illuminating: “Yourself, your friends, your pupils, God; pretty good public that!”
We are called to play in God’s great drama, and it is not the size of our role but the audience to whom we play that makes all the difference. If we are ambitious to be impressive before people, we will never attain the true significance we seek. Instead, significance is found in the simple ambition to be pleasing to God and faithful to His calling for our life, whether our part appears to be great or small.
Later in the play, Rich compromises his integrity to attain political prominence, and betrays Thomas More through perjury in order to gain the position of Collector of Revenues for Wales. More is condemned through this treachery, and as Rich leaves the court, More tells him: “You know, Rich, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?”
Our character will be shaped by the audience to whom we play.
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