(Brandon Heath opening for Toby Mac in Kingsport TN at Funfest 7/16/15)
Parents simply don't tell their young kids, "When you grow up, you can be anything you want, you could be the Vice President!" As a culture we undervalue anything short of 1st place. Is that healthy? What does it take to bring out our potential anyway?
The only way we get better at whatever our craft is, is to keep doing over & over what we are trying to perfect with practice, effort, feedback, and hopefully with a lot of encouragement from those who count along the way.
Whether it's music, writing, any art or task, we have to keep working at getting better. In life, no one sets out to be the opening band, that's more like a starting place in the minds of most. Yes, die hard fans, committed family, close friends & loved ones love the opening band, still the opening band knows many of the general fans came to see the headliner.
The truth is, the opening band is hardest working crew on stage. They are pouring their heart & soul into their music, they are hungry, and they won't settle for anything but giving their fans their best effort. Headliners can leave us with the sense they are going through the motions, it's all routine.
I think building your reputation as an artist or craftsman or practitioner is much more rewarding than resting on past accomplishments. To be future oriented is healthier than thinking your best days are behind you. "Arriving" is a moving target that is ever allusive.
If you find yourself in the "opening band" category of life and you wrestle with it, one step that will help bring you peace is the realization you aren't in competition with the headliners. You are your own standard. You are unique.
The other night as I waited with our son for Toby Mac to take the stage, the opener, Brandon Heath, was so humble and he played his heart out in such a way, I was impressed, it gave me a new appreciation for the folks in life who show up and work hard even though most of the crowd is waiting on someone else.
Brandon Heath also showed me the difference between performing well, and putting on a performance to just impress people. Brandon definitely accomplished the former.
In life we won't always be on the center stage, we won't always be the name on the marque, sometimes we are the ones off to the side. Trying to get published, recorded, filmed, or wherever you are trying to make headway in won't be easy, but it's even harder if you think you are going make it there the easy way... and everyone else is your competition.