Back in the 1960s and 1970s, even major metropolitan markets in America did not have more than three or four network channels and a handful of independent ones to watch. The cable and satellite revolutions did not unfold until the 1980s and beyond.
If television was sparse here in America in those early years, one can only imagine what it was like in Kenya. Apparently, only one or two channels were available at most. As a result, there was always considerable excitement whenever any relatively new or fresh programming made its way over to Kenya from America.
One night, the local Kenyan broadcaster was promoting a new television detective series from America. It was a titled “Barnaby Jones”. The lady sharing the promo stated: “And now, stay tuned for a brand new show from America titled 'Barnaby Jones' and starring Jed Clampett!”
When he shared this, I, for one, cracked up laughing. Why? Because if you are of my generation and older, you will recognize that Buddy Ebsen first starred for nine seasons (1962-1971) as the multimillionaire Jed Clampett in the CBS sitcom titled The Beverly Hillbillies before he assumed the role of Barnaby Jones in the eponymous series of the 1970s. It appears that folks the world over knew him, not at Buddy Ebsen, but as Jed Clampett.
I have thought a lot about that these last few days. Many people know that actors can get tagged with parts that get them type-casted and from which they can never recover. One such example might be Don Knotts, who won several Emmys as Sheriff Andy Taylor’s amiable if bumbling deputy, Barney Fife, in the 1960s sitcom titled The Andy Griffith Show. It is arguable that he found it hard to find parts because it was thought that audiences could not accept him in some other role.
(Indeed, I once read that producers of the 1970s groundbreaking series titled The Mary Tyler Moore Show cast her character as a single lady because they feared the viewing audience would not embrace her as a recent divorcee, concluding that she and Rob Petrie had somehow split up after The Dick Van Dyke Show went off the air.)
Of course, all of this begs the question: “Just what role will you and I each be remembered for?”
Think about it…
For fourteen years now, I have served as the Senior Pastor of a local church. The reality is that, for many in our community, even if I ceased serving as Pastor tomorrow, I will long be remembered for my role here. For my children, I will be remembered as their father. For my wife, I will be remembered as her husband. Etc., etc…
The same could be said of you; albeit in slightly different details. In light of this, it behooves us to take seriously the roles God has given us to fulfill. You may not be called to be a Pastor. You may be called to be a factory worker, or a truck driver, or a clerk. You may be called to be a husband or a wife, a father or a mother. You may not be called to preach; but you are certainly called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and thus to have an impact on those around you.
Whatever the role you have been assigned, take it to heart. You have no idea just how many people are taking notice. And you have no idea just how long the impression you make will last or how far reaching it will prove to be.
Perhaps Solomon summed it up best when he said (Proverbs 22:1): “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”
The fictional Jed Clampett had amassed over $90 million by the end of The Beverly Hillbillies nine year run. And yet, somehow I am quite certain that the knowledge that he would live on in the hearts and minds of his audience would have been far more gratifying to him than his bottom line! No doubt the same applies to you and me.