Doug Oldham, a legendary gospel singer who was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2006, went to be with his Lord on July 21, 2010. *Oldham recalls a story his father told him early in his career.
Doug, used to large audiences, complained to this father that only 46 people had attended one of his concerts. He added, “Papa, I could have stayed home to better advantage.”
Pastor Oldham told his son about Sir Edwin Booth, the most celebrated actor in all of England in the 1800s. His younger brother, John Wilkes Booth, also an actor, was so intimidated by his older brother that he came to America, and acted out his treachery at the expense of Abraham Lincoln’s life.
Sir Edwin once performed for an audience of only six people, who had come to the theater despite a fierce snowstorm. His understudy tried to persuade Sir Edwin to let him take his part that night. Sir Edwin refused and thundered, “We don’t play to the crowd; we play to the king.”
With a glance at the stagehand, he said, “Pull.” The curtain was pulled and Booth gave one of the finest performances of his life – to an almost empty theater. The six people sat far back and he could hardly see them.
Next morning a messenger handed him a letter. Booth tore it open to find a note that read: “Last evening my wife and I, along with four friends, attended your brilliant performance. We sat enthralled as you lifted the entire cast beyond their finest capabilities. I was honored and humbled as we watched.” The note was signed and bore the seal of the King of England!
Doug has never forgotten the point of his father’s story. He still says, “I do my best to be sure I’m singing for the King!”
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men (Colossians 3:23).
*I apologize for not knowing to whom to give credit for this illustration, but it is not original with me.