“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
1 Kings 3:7-9 (NIV)
One of the foundational lessons I learned while studying acting was the importance of understanding your character’s motivation. A play is broken up into Acts. Acts are broken up into scenes. Scenes are broken down into “beats” of action and dialogue. For each beat, I ask my character the question: “What do I want?”
When my character moves across stage it is not because the director told me to do so. There is something internally driving my character to move from point A to point B.
What do I want, that is motivating me to walk across the room?
- To get a sandwich?
- To grab my book?
- To find the remote?
- To kiss the girl?
When my character says to the woman, “I love you,” there is a reason he says it.
What do I want from saying those words to her?
- To emotionally manipulate her into trusting me?
- To express my sincere devotion?
- To salvage our broken relationship?
- To conceal my hatred for her?
One of the things that I love about acting is the fact that it has taught me much more about myself and about life than I ever dreamed or expected. When you spend hours, weeks, and months working on a character and exploring his motivation for saying and doing everything, you eventually begin to question and explore your own personal motivations.
Here I am with a bunch of people who I really don’t like that much, doing things I really shouldn’t do, knowing that tomorrow I’m really going to feel like crap physically and feel guilty spiritually. Why am I doing this? What is it I want?
– To be accepted by this social group?
– To punish myself for something?
– To make the words, “You’ll never amount to anything” come true?
– Just to be stupid?
My acting methods led me down a path of intense, personal introspection, which led me to an honest reflection of both my character strengths, weaknesses and fatal flaws. This led me to grapple with the fact that there were some things I needed to change and some things I couldn’t change for which I am in perpetual need of both grace and forgiveness. This led me to Jesus.
For God so loved the world [note: there’s His motivation] that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
In today’s chapter, God questions young King Solomon’s motivation. “What do you want?” The answer was critical in revealing who Solomon was, and who Solomon would become. Today, as I type this post in the pre-dawn hours of another day, Holy Spirit is once again asking me that small, but very important question:
What do you want?