Tuesday, November 22, 2011

‘One Book Guy’? Musing on Respect and Grace - Peter A. Black

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s, “I don’t get no respect,” sailed into my consciousness the other day. Dangerfield’s self-deprecating humour served him well and garnered him a lot of respect from both showbiz peers and the public.

It’s interesting to me the things that start a thread of thought or trigger memories. But what brought that late comedian’s famous tag-line to mind and got me onto this track?

Earlier that day an author friend asked me to provide an endorsement for her latest book. The manuscript was to be sent off to the publisher and she requested a blurb from me. Why me? I wondered.

We’ve known each other for about five years now.During that time my friend has read and commented on several pieces of my writing and I likewise have done the same for some of hers. We are both inspirational writers – writing from a Christian world-view, with the desire to see people come to trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord and grow in their life of faith.

I smiled. In recent years I’d been asked to write several endorsements and forewords for colleagues’ books. Some of them had published several during the time frame I got just one book out. With aroused curiosity I perused this question of why me? with quiet mischievousness.

Okay, so I’m a ‘one book’ guy . . . so far. The world has a lot of ‘one book’ guys and gals; one-major-achievement-people who, while having ability in any number of areas, are known outside their immediate circle for just one thing.

I chuckled at the thought: Rodney Dangerfield pitched thousands of funny lines over his years of stand-up comedy, but his “I don’t get no respect” one-liner became a defining phrase for him. Similarly, several sports originated in this country, but ice hockey is the one that till now has been predominantly associated with Canada, and is often said (correctly or incorrectly) to define it.

Dr. Christiaan Barnard demonstrated many skills and received many honours during his lifetime, but one could be excused for thinking he was a one book guy, since he is remembered worldwide as the first surgeon to successfully implement the first human to human heart transplant. (Barnard, in fact, authored a number of titles.)

You and I may have multiple skills and be capable of many things, yet might get pigeon-holed metaphorically into a one book slot. The inspirational question is whether that slot is one of respect; that our failures don’t define us, but wholesome qualities and the grace of God working in our lives.

Few of us shine as stars in everything we attempt. Fail we do at times, whether in projects we attempt, or in attitude and word or deed, yet those failures need not define us; God’s grace is redemptive.

In my musing I came to the conclusion that those friends asked me to endorse their work and write forewords to their books because they trusted me, they had confidence that my view would reflect a valuable quality as inherent in the work they produced.

The clincher: They actually respected me; at least, respected what I would write. It had nothing to do with my own achievements, or lack of them; it didn’t matter that I’m a one book guy.

A need to be respected lies at the heart of many a person who struggles with feelings of inadequacy, does it not? Some turn that into a need to control others, and certain people resort to abusive behaviours towards themselves, their spouse and children, and even of others around them. For some, substance abuse is all part of the mix.

They want respect and they demand it, but their negative behaviour robs them of self-respect as well as that of others.

The solution can be found in welcoming the Holy Spirit to work grace in us: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).”

© Peter A. Black.
Black is the weekly inspirational columnist at The Watford Guide-Advocate and is the author of “Parables from the Pond” (Word Alive Press; ISBN 1897373-21-X).


violet said...

Peter, it doesn't surprise me that you are asked to write blurbs and endorsements. You are defined by so much more than your one book. Keep writing, be it encouragement on this blog, or blurbs on friends' books, or maybe another book of your own:)

Peter Black said...

Thank you Violet. Your kind thoughts and sentiments are a great encouragement, and are well-taken. An earlier and shorter version of this piece was published in my column three weeks ago.
It's interesting what comes out when you sit with fingers hovering over the keys, and pray: "Lord, what do we write about this week?" This theme arose out of one of those occasions.

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