From the Youth Ministry Archives: In this short drama, a motley cast of characters discuss what it means to be successful, but only one character gets it right.
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Themes: Success, In the World
Cast: Manny Moderator, Brian Businessman, Simon Psychologist, Helen Homemaker, Roger Reverend, Angela Actress, The Stagehand
Time and Place: Here and Now
Setting: Television studio. The panel is seated in chairs.
Moderator: Good day, ladies and gentlemen! I’m Manny Moderator, your host, welcoming you once again to another episode of “Define the Word, Discuss the Issue!” Today’s panel will define the word “success” and discuss what it mans to have “made it.” With us today are Brian Businessman, Simon Psychologist, Helen Homemaker, Roger Reverend, and the lovely and talented Angela Actress. We’ll be asking each of them what constitutes their notion of “success.” Mr. Businessman, our sponsors have indicated that we should start with you. (Laughs hollowly)
Businessman: (Does not smile) Certainly. Success, Manny, is a three-piece suit. A good income. An attractive and efficient secretary. Keeping your appointments, honoring your commitments. A wife and kids you’re not ashamed of. The trust of your associates. The only way you can sell is if they trust you and like you first. Success, Manny, is living well. And climbing, yes, always climbing. Never sitting back – content – that’s deadly. Success mans never having made it; it means always making more, wanting more, climbing higher. Pushing. All the time.
Psychologist: Success means never being fulfilled?
Businessman: No, I didn’t say that. To me, it’s very fulfilling, not ever being completely, uh…fulfilled.
Moderator: Thank you, Mr. Businessman. Simon Psychologist?
Psychologist: Success is happiness, being content. It’s acting responsibly and accepting the consequences and, generally, being pleased with the quality of your life. As a psychologist, I help people to see that, and I have had a fair amount of success with my patients. (Pause) Naturally, the people who come to me are the unhappy, the unfulfilled – which is fortunate for me, or I wouldn’t have a job to do. And that would make me unhappy.
Reverend: So your success is built on the unsuccessfulness of others.
Psychologist: I didn’t say that. (pause) Not in those exact words. (pause) But, of course, yes. That’s true.
Moderator: Thank you, Simon. Let’s hear from the ladies. Mrs. Homemaker? (She glares at him.) Oh, I’m sorry. Miz Homemaker, please.
Homemaker: You know, some women think success is having a nine-to-five husband and clean carpeting. I just want to provide my family with the best possible environment for growth – to feed them, in more ways than one. To have my husband love me. To be able to do some good for the community, and to fulfill myself, like they said. I mean, I have all these various identities within me, just crying to come out. I’ve thought maybe it’d be fun to do some acting some day, you know? (She smiles at Actress. Actress smiles back condescendingly.) Oh yes, and my children are very important to me. My children are my life. I want them to stay healthy. (pause) And not embarrass me.
Moderator: Thank you, Helen. You, Reverend?
Reverend: To begin with, it’s rather ironic to speak of the successful Christian, because I think Christ calls us to be unsuccessful.
Psychologist: Well, Pastor, you’ve certainly…
Reverend: (cutting him off) …But if we can talk about making it to the top, so to speak, it obviously involves knowing what the will of God is for your life – and doing it. It’s that simple. And that hard. For me, personally, as a minister of the Lord, I feel successful, so to speak, when the Lord uses me for his holy purposes; when what I say makes an impact on someone else’s life. When someone in the church understands what I’m trying to say, and finally, actually does what I tell them to. Well, I must admit that makes me very happy. (pause) And it’s very rare. (He laughs.)
Moderator: Well… (Businessman accidentally knocks something over onto Psychologist. There is a brief commotion.) Ah, not to worry, not to worry – we’ll have one of our people clean it up. (He motions quickly to the Stagehand, who cleans up.) Finally, the best for the last – the lovely and talented Angela Actress. Miss Actress, just what does success mean to you?
Actress: You’re too kind, Manny. Well, to me – to everyone, I guess – success means recognition. It’s not enough just to be good; people have to know about it too. (There is general consent.) Even you, Pastor – you don’t preach to an empty house; there’s just no communication in that. I’m very good at what I do, but I don’t play to an empty house. I need that audience. God, do I need that audience! (To Businessman) They’re my customers. No customers, no business; no business, no success – right? It doesn’t matter how god you are. You’ve got to have people appreciate you. That’s what making it means – recognition. (To Moderator) Are you ready for the profound quote of the day, Manny? Success is being good and having people know that you’re good. That’s what it’s about. Ah, applause! I love it! (As she stands, her wrap slips from her shoulders. The Stagehand picks it up for her. She takes it without a word.)
Moderator: Thank you, Miss Actress. Thank you all for being here today. And we especially thank you, our viewers, for watching today. Remember, you’re the people who have made us a success! Till next time, this is Manny Moderator saying, Be happy, be hip, and be wholesome! Bye!
(He waves and then begins greeting the panel warmly, with two-fisted handshakes and kisses on the cheek for the women. Backslapping, handshaking, visiting all around he ad libs as the group leaves the stage. The Stagehand, who has been constantly and cheerfully running errands in the background throughout the show, begins sweeping up. Finds Bible, calls to Reverend.
Stagehand: Pastor! Pastor! You left this behind.
Reverend: (returns, takes papers) Well, I’d look pretty foolish without this. They’re my sermon notes for next Sunday. It’s going to be great! I’ve titled it “They Have Their Reward.” It’s based on The Sermon on the Mount, and I contrast those hypocrites who must always call attention to themselves with the ones who humbly make their offering before God. You should come hear it. I honestly think this is going to be one of my better sermons. I’m going to really shake that congregation up. (pause) That’s what they pay me for! And I’m good at it. Come hear me; you won’t regret it! (He smiles, exits. Stagehand shrugs, whistles happily and continues cleaning.)