Royal Albert Hall
The coliseum in Rome, The Sidney Opera House, Madison Square Garden, places designed and built for people to present a message or display the performance of some act in front of an audience. Stadiums and theaters, churches and synagogues of all sizes and shapes are in every city and town around the world. While these places are intentionally there for one or more people to share something with one or more other people, the fact is we are all performing all the time for someone. Whether we consciously think about it all the time or not, we are putting on a display for all to see any time we’re not alone. Anyone who practices or performs anything for the purpose of displaying it even when they are alone, is planning for their audience. Even the things we do by and for ourselves have an audience. But who?
“All the world’s a stage,…” William Shakespeare’s poem points out his seven stages of performance in a man’s life, regardless of who’s watching. “…know your audience.” Tennessee Ernie Ford and countless speech and performance coaches remind us to be aware of the perception others will have on our performance. An audience can be a single person, a group of people or even all people. Some things are for our own entertainment or pleasure, an audience of one. Some are for others to see, anything from the way we dress, walk and talk in public, to a particular act. Many things provoke a response from our audience, making us aware, (if we weren’t already) of our audience, and how our performance was received. While many people give great thought to their performances and the responses achieved, throughout the stages of our lives we all pay varying attention to our audience.
Everyday activities and world class performances all have an audience, both intended an unintended. Many authors and performers have recommended choosing a single person or character to focus on. People put on a certain attire or act in a certain way to draw the attention of a single person. ”Audience of One.” The Athletes in Action catch phrase recently re-made famous by Phillidelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz in creating the AO1 foundation, is about choosing and targeting our audience. Specifically, choosing Jesus Christ, as our audience for everything we do.
Long before the WWJD bracelet craze, my grandmother asked me during a particularly rebellious time in my life, “Do you think about what Jesus would think of the the things you do?” I answered yes, but up until then, I didn’t. Since then, I can’t help but be reminded that even in the performances that never leave the confines of my own mind, someone is watching. Whether we choose God as our audience and live our lives in a way that honors him or not, he sees us, and like any audience, he does respond.
Who are you performing for?