Almost everyone who gives their life to the benefit of others sometimes struggles with the matter of significance. Lives influenced are rarely definitive and the process is at least as full of heartbreak as it is with glory. I’m just finishing watching Mr. Holland’s Opus again. It is inspiring, even is it may be somewhat contrived at the end in a predictable Hollywood manner. I love what this movie honours: long term commitment, investing in the dreams of others, leaving aside personal desires at times, relationships as more important than tangible outcomes, challenging authority with passion and wisdom… the list goes on. I also appreciate that for the first 2/3 of the movie the lead character is obviously deeply flawed. He repeatedly chooses the encouragements of his work over the frustrations of his family. He’s tempted to infidelity and crosses some lines he shouldn’t. He’s angry, sarcastic, and unfulfilled. I almost would have preferred if it hadn’t all come together so completely later. It would have been more honest to the people I know who do wonderful things but remain imperfect themselves. That’s not to devalue life change. If we didn’t believe in transformation most of us would go get “real” jobs. I just like the honesty of heroes with clay feet. It’s quite Biblical. Finally, there’s the finale scene when Mr. Holland sees for the first time just how much his life has meant. Far too few of us receive recognition for our efforts, at least in the ways that we would most like. Perhaps that’s for the best after all. The desire for recognition, to be significant in the lives of others, can be a quiet but damaging temptation. It is a sobering moment when the minister realizes he is more interested in being the one helping than in seeing the person be helped. This is why we take it by faith that it is not our calling to be successful, to change lives or get results; though we do acknowledge those as desirable. Somehow we strive to long for the simple words “Well done, good and faithful servant”, spoken by one who knows our every frailty and loves us still.