My first stop upon arriving was the Hilton Universal City hotel. Nice property. Right across from Universal Studios. Some auditions were going on nearby. I almost stopped in to see if they had a role for an old radio guy. Wisdom prevailed.
The overnight stay was courtesy of my son, Marshall. He had some spare Hilton Honor points and I needed a bed. It all worked. They treated me like I was the real deal—but I knew I was an Honors impostor. A poser, if you will!
I was at this hotel for an evening banquet celebrating 30 years of ministry for MasterMedia. It’s a relational outreach to decision makers primarily located in Hollywood and New York City. It was also a night of tribute for the founder, retiring CEO and Chairman, Dr. Larry Poland. A few dozen friends and luminaries offered words of praise and admiration for this soul winner to the media elite.
Eric Metaxas, a Salem national talk host and New York Times bestselling author, was the emcee. His wit showed up with him as it almost always does. He has a knack for being “Christianly irreverent,” spewing gentle insults and one liners that guys like me find delightfully humorous.
One group of Eric’s soft targets were the several people who praised Larry Poland by video, but not in person. Kathie Lee Gifford, Pat Boone, and others on this list were chided about being “too important” to actually attend the gala. No one is safe if you are in Metaxas’ sights. I’ve been with Eric many times—mostly for interviews—and the zingers are the highlights from this Yale grad.
Musical selections came from two gifted performers…Sarah Horn and Jordan Smith. Sarah was called up impromptu by Kristin Chenoweth at the Hollywood Bowl in 2013 to sing “For Good” from Wicked. The shared performance on video went viral and has been viewed over one million times. I’m confident Kristin and the talent around her was quite surprised with the sound that came from Sarah Horn. She has great vocal chords. (Read about her Hollywood Bowl story here: http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/In-Her-Own-Words-Sarah-Horn-Shares-Inspirational-Story-of-Singing-with-Kristin-Chenoweth-at-the-Hollywood-Bowl-and-Going-Viral-20130825)
Jordan Smith has become somewhat of a household name. His tryout in 2014 for NBC’s The Voice did not go as well as he hoped. His dreams seemed dashed. But the following season, he got a callback from a show team member for another tryout. As he said at the banquet, “The rest is history.” Jordan shared about his growing faith as a follower of Jesus in between two songs—one from his new album and the stunning crowd pleaser, “Somebody to Love.” This was the song that he performed in the semifinals of The Voice that set him apart. He received a standing ovation. It was fun to watch.
While I didn’t know several of the people who added their touching testimonies of God’s work through Larry Poland in their lives, their words made him sparkle. These kinds of events can embarrass one as well, because deep down we know that we don’t live up to being treated as a legend. Larry admitted this to be true.
Allow me to be more descriptive. Dr. Larry Poland was uniquely gifted by God for the assignment he had for 30 years. Accessing these super high achievers in Hollywood and New York for discussions on faith is incredibly difficult. As a few testified, such calls from “religious” people to meet usually result in massive criticism of the entertainment industry. Who looks forward to meeting with mean spirited Christians?
Larry is different. The stories throughout the evening told of a man who met with them with brotherly love, honesty, respect, and sometimes words of challenge. More than anything, they admired his authenticity. Several who spoke were industry captains, including the head of HBO!
In true Poland style, he shared a ficticious story of a tennis racquet “complaining” about how tennis players got all the glory…when it was the racquet that did the work. A golden tennis great responded to the racquet’s complaint by saying that the tennis tool would be nothing without the master of the game’s incredible skill. The racquet would be reduced to tinder.
And with that, Dr. Poland concluded his remarks. His lesson was simple. All of us using our gifts are like those racquets. Without our Creator/Master giving us life and equipping us for our work, we would be dead weight. Taking credit away from the Master is a disservice.
The writer of the book of Hebrews encourages us this way: “Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep…may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21/NLT)
May you be so equipped. And give credit where it is due.
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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to www.1160hope.com for live streaming or podcasts.