There’s a saying in the entertainment biz, “There are no small parts, only small actors”. The saying refers to how every single actor and actress is important to a production. Sure, the lead gets all the money, the applause, the fame, the girls, and so on, but the show’s success depends on everyone, right? The fact that every role, big and small, contributes something special on stage or in life is true. However, there’s another saying that floats around, and it goes, “Put your money where your mouth is”. This second saying is why the more jaded among us roll our eyes when we hear the “no small parts” line. That little actor with a few lines isn’t taking home millions for his part in the latest blockbuster movie.
Out in the world, the popular, the famous, the rich, the beautiful, the talented, and the lucky are treated differently by the general public. The “no small parts, only small actors” line is often employed just to make people with “small parts” feel better, or to motivate them to work harder so that the “big part” person looks better. It sure seems that way sometimes.
Now, I’m not saying that all “big part” people are bad, or don’t deserve what they have in life. I’m not saying secular successes are bad at all; they can be extremely noble. I’ve known some very successful people who sacrificed greatly to earn their success. Sometimes, “big part” people just master important principles for success early in life. Then they build on it, and they don’t mess up and throw it all away, either. Others may learn lessons at forty that could have made a world of difference for them if only they’d mastered them when they were twenty. Have you ever heard the expression, “If I’d only known then what I know now”?
But the cold, cruel world doesn’t care if you’ve acquired self-discipline or education or social skills or confidence later in life, and now you’re ready to go for it all. You’re behind. You got left in the dust. In some areas of life, it doesn’t matter how hard you work now, the opportunity is gone and won’t come again. Occasionally the opportunity is literally gone (you’re not getting a college scholarship for the track team when you’re 50, no matter how hard you train). Sometimes the opportunity is just gone from a practical standpoint. But it’s gone. Gone, baby, gone.
Hence, there are a million major and mini tragedies everyday, taking place all around the world, stemming from learning too little too late. And we daydream about having made different choices, and playing a bigger part on the stage of the world. It’s a tragedy–what could have been, the part we could have played, the contributions we could have made to the world under different circumstances. You know, we’re all like, “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it” (On The Waterfront,1954). And while we’re feeling all down about it, someone inevitably will put an arm around our shoulders, and tell us that there are no small parts, only small actors. They won’t put their money where their mouth is, but they’ll say we’re just as important as the “big parts”. It’s a tragic moment.
The biggest tragedy, however, it this: Because the world doesn’t really mean it when it says there are “no small parts”, we don’t believe God when He says it. Now, if you think the calling of bishop or relief society president or prophet is more important than that of home teacher or visiting teacher, then somewhere deep inside you believe that with God there are “small parts” that aren’t as good or as important as the “big parts”. It’s just so hard to get it through our hearts and heads that God is just as pleased with the faithful home teacher sitting in someone’s living room as He is with President Thomas S. Monson standing before millions of people giving a eloquent talk in general conference. God is just as pleased with the new convert struggling to understand the basics of the gospel as He is with lifelong member who knows the scriptures backwards and forwards. God is just as pleased with the member who left the Church for years, but repented and came back with full purpose of heart as He is pleased with the member who has stayed faithful and has “borne the burden and heat of the day” (Matt. 20:1-15).
God doesn’t just tell us, “there are no small parts in my kingdom,” he means it. Unlike the world, God can and does put His “money” where His mouth is. If we are faithful to Him, we are “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 18:16). God has promised to give us all that He has (D&C 84:38). There are no slums in heaven, only mansions. There’s not a mansion on the hill for the faithful stake president, and a cheap shack in the valley for the faithful home teacher. We must get it through our hearts and heads that any errand from God is great, and the faithful execution of that errand brings His faithful reward. God says to us, “there are no small parts” and He then proceeds to give equal reward to EVERYONE who follows him. God puts His money (His riches) where His mouth is.
And His promise to give us all that He has isn’t just reserved for the great hereafter. The promise to give us all He has begins the moment we turn toward Him, and start doing our very best with each task and calling that comes our way. The very moment we turn toward Him and start doing our best, He pours out His abundance and blesses us. He gives us as much of His riches that we can handle, then lets us take another step, then pours more blessings down upon us. He does this for the stake president, the primary teacher, the apostles, and the convert who was just baptized yesterday.
Sometimes, this truth starts to settle in our hearts. We start to hunger for the riches of God’s kingdom, and we start receiving them, and we start to feel the joy of progressing under His divine tutelage. The world scorns us, calls our part a “small part”, and we don’t care. Then, another tragedy happens. Someone in the Church, sometimes even one of our leaders, treats us like we are playing a “small part”. Maybe it’s just our perception that they feel that way, but maybe they really do think they’re better than someone else because of their position in the Church. We might be fine with the world looking down on us, but it really stings when it’s a fellow member of the Church. Don’t let this get you down! No one in the Church is perfect, even leaders, and we’re all doing the best we can, right?! Right. The important thing to remember is that God doesn’t see you that way.
You have a big part to play in God’s plan. You are extremely important to Him. Don’t let anything hold you back when you embark on His errand. Don’t let the feeling that the errand is a “small part” take root in your soul. There are truly no small parts when God is your casting agent, your director, and your biggest fan.