I enjoy movies that fall in the genre of action or drama. I can appreciate comedy as well. My favorite type of drama or action movie is one based upon history of philosophy. These type movies stimulate my thinking, and they often have lessons interwoven into them that make lifelong impacts upon my own personal convictions. One such example is that of a conversation that takes place at the beginning of the movie Great Debaters.
In this particular scene, Dr. James Farmer, played by Forest Whitaker is having a conversation with his son, James Farmer, Jr., played by Denzel Whitaker. James, Jr. attempts to walk in the house and tip toe past his father’s study without greeting him. James, Sr. stops him and reminds him of his expectations of him at the end of each day. The dialogue crescendos into one of those life impacting philosophies that stay etched into my conscience.
James, Sr.- “What do we do?”
James, Jr.- “We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do.”
In the context of the script, James Farmer, Sr. had instilled this wisdom into his son to imply that great study habits and a good education opens doors to a better life. There was probably not a greater truth for African Americans in 1935 when this philosophy was passed from a father to his son. After seeing Great Debaters and hearing those lines, I began to apply this same philosophy to every effort I put my hands and energy toward.
I must say, however, that I have found myself asking on numerous occasions over the past 10 years, “When do I actually get to do what I want to do? I have been doing what I have to do for a long time.”
This questioning has the tendency to send me on a self-deprecating and self-loathing quest to discover where I’ve failed, what I’ve been doing wrong or what I need to do more of. It also has the propensity to influence me to point fingers at those around me as if their choices are slowing my progress. I can now admit that those responses are neither appropriate nor healthy. While I do have the right to ask how long and evaluate the process, I should never negatively assess the status of my success. Instead, I should apply James 1:4 to the philosophy I’ve adopted from the Great Debaters movie.
“And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:4 NASB
In the process of “doing what we have to do”, we must allow the process to be completed so that our season of “doing what we want to do” is not short-lived and ineffective. This means in our communication and interaction with our spouse, in our season of singleness, in our parenting, in our relationship with Christ, in our work and/or business relationships, in our education and in every other facet of our lives that require some type of responsibility on our part. If we can endure the full season of “doing what I have to do”, the scripture states that in the end we will obtain PERFECT RESULTS.