So many times we shrink back from our purpose because we’re afraid of the peanut gallery. I’m sure you’ve heard of the peanut gallery term before. But in case you haven’t, let me explain.
Back in the days when the art of theatrical performance called, “vaudeville” was in vogue, the PEANUT GALLERY was a name for the CHEAPEST and most ROWDY, obnoxious spectators in the theater. Because these were already the cheapest seats in the place, they were also given the cheapest snacks in the house.
Folks who populated the peanut gallery would chomp their peanuts and obnoxiously heckle every performer, whether good or bad. It got to the point that it wasn’t even about rating the quality of performance anymore. People would sit in the peanut gallery just for the sheer enjoyment of being a nuisance with the things they had to say about the performers.
At first, the performers would take it to heart, and such phrases like, “no comment from the peanut gallery” were born. Later, the peanut gallery became a simple sideshow and more of an afterthought to the performers on stage.
They simply didn’t care enough about the heckling of the peanut gallery to allow it to deter their performance.
Every one of us has a “peanut gallery.” We have people, whether they make themselves known or not, who spend a large portion of their time heckling us, picking us apart and microscopically criticizing our every move.
In fact, since the advent of social media’s popularity, the “peanut gallery” now often refers to people who will silently and passively peruse your social media sites, look at your comments and pictures to gain ammunition for something to talk about, yet never making public how they watch you and what they say about you.
But make no mistake about it. They are watching. And they are heckling. They may never tell you, but they are telling someone.
There was a time when I would try to defend myself against every accusation someone would hurl out about me from my personal peanut gallery.
I’ve never attempted to carry myself as a perfect individual. But I knew that I never had a heart to purposefully or maliciously deceive, hurt or disappoint anyone. In short, I wanted everyone to like me.
Over time, I’ve not only found out that having a 100-percent approval rating isn’t possible, it shouldn’t be desired. Chances are if you’re making everyone happy, then somewhere along the way you are diluting your true self for the appeasement of others.
After all, Jesus had a peanut gallery. What makes you think you won’t?
However, thanks to maturity, things have now changed. Do I still hear of people who have not-so-nice things to say about me? Of course. Do I still hear things said about me that are either untrue or incomplete? Yes. And every now and then, someone will actually bring up something negative about me that is both true and verifiable.
The difference between how I handled it before and how I handle it now is this: I don’t care.
Now, I live for an audience of One.
I am comfortable enough both with the things I’ve verifiably done wrong, and the things people have said or assumed of me that are not true, that it doesn’t bother me when people have negative things to say. I wasn’t put on earth to please men and women. I wasn’t put on earth to be at their every beck and call. I was placed on this earth to give God glory.
And so were you.
Here’s a Scripture to prove it:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)
The classic King James Version subtitutes the word “special” for “peculiar.” Normally being called peculiar might be seen as an insult. Not when it comes to the vernacular of the Kingdom.
Peculiar means different. And often people will insult, downgrade and crucify those things which are difficult to understand.
Just ask Jesus. I’m glad He didn’t allow people’s misunderstandings to snatch Him down from the cross. I’m glad our Savior didn’t allow His personal peanut gallery to distract Him from His divine purpose.
Here’s a tip: Take the time you used to spend listening to and responding to and worrying about the peanut gallery, and trade it in for time spent on perfecting your performance.
For your audience of One.
Gabriel Stovall covers sports and religion for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He is also a church planter and pastor of NewLife Christian Church, a new ministry in the Forest Park area. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter? Follow him @GabrielCStovall