True story: My sister and I were extras in a movie about the first Black Heisman trophy winner, Ernie Davis, aka The Express. (Other folks were there – her husband, and members of our praise team – but the latter don’t factor into this story.) When we finally saw the movie, we were surprised to see that my sister received a lot of screen time for a mere extra, while some received none. The camera, as they say, loved her.
The day of filming, one Hollywood type kept turning to my sister (she’s a looker – SMH – runs in the family) and demanding the of her: “What are your particulars?”
She would smile faintly, not flirting or encouraging the fellow, but he didn’t seem to need much encouragement. He kept at this until my brother-in-law spoke up and put our fellow actor in check. Yikes! You should’ve seen his face! But I digress. The point of the story is his catch phrase.
I took it to mean that he was asking, who was she? Why was she here? What was her experience, resume, or qualifications? And how could he have missed her if they traveled in the same circles? My sister could pass for Phylicia Rashaad. She’s that beautiful. He felt he should have known about her, met her before that day.
When I attend a new Bible study, I try to keep my mouth shut for a while, at least in the beginning. I can take over things in a hurry, without even trying, so I’m careful not to step on anyone’s toes. But there always comes that moment when I finally speak, illuminating on some point, and one of two things happen. Folks sit up, take notice, and you can visualize the gears turning by the stunned expressions on their faces. Others take offense.
Sometimes, they say it aloud: “Who is she? Who did she come with? Where did she come from?”
All of which have the same root cause as the first story. What are your particulars? They want to know how I came by such information. (No secret – I’ve been reading the Bible since I was a child.) Also, the offended party would want to know: why am I encroaching on their territory?
Folks always wanna know your qualifications. But we shouldn’t be too offended when they ask. We’re in good company. The Pharisees asked the same of Jesus:
“By whose authority do you do these things?”
Again, basically the same reasoning behind the question as when the actor asked my sister. Who are you? How did you get here? What experience do you have? Where is your resume, sir? Really, what they seem to say is: You’ll have to get in line behind those who are more qualified than you. And, like the Pharisees, it’s always the established leaders who are quickly and most often the ones offended.
When the Apostle Paul told the disciple Timothy, let no man despise you because of your age, he really meant don’t let anyone look down on you because you don’t have a lengthy resume. I sometimes modify the scripture mentally to include gender or education. I once knew a pastor who became upset because another pastor was pulling in more members, even though he lacked a degree. He expounded on the subject often as it was a sore spot. What he really meant is – let this fellow pay his dues like I did! He should have to get behind me, go to school, and wait for his turn to be a successful pastor. Oh, did that burn him!
Recently, I watched what has become a cult favorite, Sister Act II, starring Whoopie Goldberg. I once read that she was not the first choice for that role. It was meant for Bette Midler, who turned it down. I’ve watched Whoopie’s star rise ever since the Color Purple. Never in her experience did I recall “singer” listed as one of her accomplishments or attributes. She’s a great actor and has done much but she was unqualified, or at the very least, underqualified. Still, she went for it. She inhabited the role, making it her own so much in the first movie that they made a sequel which was more fun than the first!
I said all that to say, God calls you, then he qualifies you. It may not be in your resume. But when the opportunity comes, you should go for it. As my son (a great salesman) says, make them tell you no! Don’t you be the one to talk yourself out of it. With this lesson in mind, I’m saying yes to a lot more these days. When a door opens, I walk right into it. I don’t worry so much about my particulars. I’m finding that most times I’m called to utilize skills I already have. And, that I am more than qualified.