(l to r) Ephraim Sykes (David Ruffin), Jeremy Pope (Eddie Kendricks), James Harkness (Paul Williams), Jared Joseph (Melvin Franklin), and Derrick Baskin (Otis Williams) in the world premiere of Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Photo by Carole Litwin/Berkeley Repertory Theatre
On a brisk Tuesday night in New York City, I went to see “Aint Too Proud,” the musical about the The Temptations. As with all of my “reviews” this post is not so much a critique of the show, as much as it is about how the show affected me. After all, this is SHINE TYC life and we look for God’s voice in everything. First of all, the show was Ah-mazing! The cast did a marvelous job. As I watched them perform song and dance after song and dance, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “I really need to be in better shape.”
“It’s a tale as old as time from Nebuchadnezzar to New Edition.”
Beyond the amazing music, dancing, lights, and energy, the story pricks your heart if you stop singing long enough to pay attention. We’ve all seen it. Drugs, alcohol, in-fighting, egos, and the eventual demise. It’s a tale as old as time from Nebuchadnezzar to New Edition; prideful men who trip over their egos and fall from the very mountain peak they worked so hard to climb.
Over the two and a half hour journey with the Temptations I wondered if all the pain and loss was worth the price of fame. I get why people want to be rich. Money is tangible and it can provide solutions for a lot of things. (See: Ecclesiastes 10:19) But, what’s the deal with the need to be famous? I just don’t get that. These dudes were destroying themselves and everyone around them to get to “the top.”
I sat there in judgment, groaning with ever bad decision they made. I thought, “Jesus didn’t chase fame and He’s the most famous person in the history of the world. He just did what God told him to do and helped the people who came to Him.” I felt good about myself because I think I line up pretty well with Jesus’ philosophy on chasing the limelight. And then it happened…
Watching the story of the Temptations uncovered a fear deep within me– a fear that one day I may climb, trip over myself and topple to my death. I panicked. As they sang, “Just My Imagination,” all of my IG and Twitter followers and FB friends began to haunt me. I saw your face. Yes, yours. The blog readers, the post followers, and the podcast listeners. I started to think, “Do I know what I’m doing out here? Do I know what I’m getting into? I better stop now.”
And then… the baseline dropped.
“I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.” The talented Temps sang, “My girl” and I remembered what my Heavenly Father promises in Psalm 1:1-3. I pulled myself together and shook off the fear. All the distressed faces started to disappear. As it turns out, you don’t have to end up like the Temptations, Nebuchadnezzar or New Edition. You can climb to high places without toppling to your death, without getting addicted to drugs, sex, alcohol, or applause. It’s right in Psalms 1:1-3.
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither,and they prosper in all they do.”
So go ahead. Run. Jump. Climb. Go as far as you can go, but don’t get ahead of God. Don’t value the gift more than the giver and don’t ever, ever be too proud to beg for God’s forgiveness and direction.