Ticket Holder or Cast Member – An August 2016 LifeLetter

Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave
– Matthew 20:27 –

Do everything without complaining or arguing
– Philippians 2:14 –


Truth be told …

my natural preference is to be a “ticket holder”, and no better ticket to have in hand for this “kid at heart” than a multi-day pass to a Walt Disney Resort. You see, like no where else on the planet (except perhaps for a few cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts), I can count on a vast array of “cast members” who are there essentially . . for me, for my entertainment, my thrills, my comfort, my safety, my ease, my happiness, my wonder, my hunger . . my whatever! Responsibility, work and concern for others emanating from myself while in this imaginary paradise is nearly completely eliminated . . someone else is doing the cleaning, performing, cooking, serving . . you know, all the “heavy lifting” . . and frankly, does that not make “life” far less complicated and stressful?

But my cravings to be the coddled ticket holder unfortunately don’t stop with Disney, nor anywhere close. The “ticket-holder” in me naturally surfaces on the freeway, at the nearest Walmart, the gas station, the restaurant (the list is lengthy – trust me). You see, in those places I naturally defer to the mode of seeing anybody and everybody (other than myself) as being too loud, too close, too in the way. I even often wonder where are all the cast members who need to be waiting on me, myself and I.

Oh sure, I have long ago learned that while happiness is nice, joy is irreplaceable . . and it certainly is far better to give than receive, especially as a Christ-follower who has received “everything” for life and godliness from our gracious God and has an unimaginable inheritance stored up in heaven. Stepping into my calling certainly opened the door to meaningful and rewarding opportunities to “give myself” to others and equip others to do the same. Even stepping away from vocational full-time church work for a season to run hospitality properties has brought the “cast member in me” to the surface in a way where bonds with seekers have been formed that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

So what gives? How is it that I so naturally gravitate to the ugly default setting of being a ticket holder in my ordinary “everyday”

You too?

I wonder sometimes, despite the spiritual upbringing and lifetime of “maturing in Christ” (or so I thought), how do I so easily switch from seeing church attenders as highly loved and valued “parishioners” to instead perplexing piranhas?  . . how do I so effortlessly start seeing people as obstacles instead of opportunities? How deep does this love affair with myself really go?

Matthew 20 and Philippians 2 are clear – Jesus really left no room for misunderstanding: He really came to set us free from a life of demonic dark selfish ambition. He understands that when we war to win what we want now for ourselves in our families, friendships and career, we might feel good for a moment, but we lose everything in the long run.

The barometer for me that best measures how I am doing at staying inside my God-ordained “cast member” calling is Philippians 2:14 . . I know any effort spent on complaining how I got the short end, the rude end, the inconsiderate end, the oblivious end . . of some else’s stick . . is sinful energy and effort robbing me of the opportunity to pray for others, encourage others, assist others, empathize with others, listen to others . . to humbly truly come alongside of others. Complaining is the worship music of the Devil and reveals a nasty layer of pride that messages to anyone in range that I am stuck on self vs. surrendered to the One who was stuck, beaten, mocked and murdered for us.


Breaking Free From A “Serving Swoon”

What does God think of us in these moments? How does God view our natural drift into a “ticket holder” lifestyle? What do we do to snap the self-absorbed “serving swoon” that so easily swallows humble Spirit-led sensitivity to others? What do we do when we are beyond exhaustion because we feel surrounded by an army of “ticket holder” mentalities who should be servant-leaders?

For myself, the answers are many, but one of the most important things I can do is to be in close proximity to lots of other “all-in” cast members . . cast members like the Cafe’s amazing slew of LifeWriters. In fact, that is one of the key driving forces behind LifeLetter Cafe. Certainly I love to preach, write, encourage and equip others with my own teachings and admonitions, but the Cafe first and foremost is a place where I get the opportunity to push my dangerous over-inflated ego to the back burner and (along with a wonderful team) come alongside of more than 250 Kingdom Class Difference-Makers . . the Cafe is where we get to pray for them, promote their encouraging resources, network together the Body of Christ and lift up the person and work of Jesus . . above all else.


“None of us can “Rotarian-up” a lifestyle
of authentic goodness in our own strength.”
– David “JB” Miller –


Being around Spirit-filled “cast members” who have said “no” to a boring, uninspiring and non-compelling “ticket holder” lifestyle is great medicine for a soul like mine that so easily gets inwardly focused.

Perhaps you are thinking, “David, if you only knew the “me” that resides just an inch or so below the surface of my ‘Christian’ life” . . “If you only knew my own wrestling matches with pride . . or my own wobble between being a Cast Member and a Ticket Holder”, then I want to offer 3 simple encouraging reminders today!



3 Keys To Thriving
In Your “Cast Member” Calling:

1) Remember we have victory in our “who” not our “do”

The dance we dance as Kingdom Difference-Makers will always have flaws, flops, gaps and shortcomings . . sooner or later, we’ll come around to feeding our love affair with self, but the effectiveness and substance of our ministry is not so much our performance, but our un-severable tie to the One who pardons, restores and renews. Resting in our “forever-belonging” to a loving God allows us to confess pride to others. When we humble ourselves and request forgiveness for ticket-holder trip-ups (like David did) we clearly message to those we are called to serve that the ultimate sum and substance of our ministry is not to be found in our “do” but in “Who” we belong to.


But thanks be to God, who always leads us triumphantly in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.
For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
– 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 –

2) God has wisdom (not a scold) for those who stumble in their “humble”

Selfless ambition is not a core virtue that any of us bring with us to planet earth – God’s word clearly outlines that it can only be a by-product of godly humility, and godly humility can only be a by-product of heaven-sent wisdom . . which fortunately is both free and in limitless supply. God isn’t waiting to beat us up but fill us up with the life-giving peace-making wisdom of heaven . . even more so on the days when we stumble in our “humble”


Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast about it or deny the truth.
Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
– James 3:13-18 –

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
– James 1:5 –


3) Goodness: we are in distribution not manufacturing

Part of the reality in the “ticket holder vs. cast member” battle is the plain simple fact that none of us can “Rotarian-up” a lifestyle of authentic goodness in our own strength. The lie of religion is imitation: the cloning of Christ-righteousness. The freeing truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ is impartation: the receiving by grace through faith of the goodness and good works which only God himself can prepare and empower to others through our surrender. Thank goodness that when it comes to goodness – we are in distribution not manufacturing.


For it is God who works in you to will and to act
in order to fulfill his good purpose.

– Philippians 2:13 –

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant
brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep,
equip you with every good thing to do His will.
And may He accomplish in us what is pleasing in His sight
through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

– Hebrews 13:20-21 –

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all –
how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

– Romans 8:32 –

How are you doing at cultivating your “Cast Member” calling?

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About the author : David "JB" Miller


David "JB" Miller is founder and author at LifeLetter Ministries. He and his wife Cheri make their home in beautiful Paradise Valley, Arizona and have six children and six grandchildren they absolutely adore.

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