I have spent most of my life wanting to be great.

When I watch movies or television shows, I identify with the main character. I try to see myself in those situations and like to think I would handle it as the protagonist would. I want to win the race, push the bully back, save the girl and have the fade-out on my face.

As I have gotten older, stories have begun changing. So many movies and books are interested in the perspective of the “bad guy.” We have started to empathize with the antagonists in several movies. Their relationships with their parents or kids at school when they were young or ugly breakups that leave wounds or bosses that push them overboard seem to justify why they turn to evil or bitterness.

I watch or read these stories, and I know for sure that I still don’t want to be the bad guy, even with all the sympathetic arcs.

Have you ever taken time to think about the fact that both the heroes and villains have distressing and heartbreaking parts to their stories? What makes them different? Heroes decide to help others, and villains become victims chained to their pain.

The two paths set before us after soul-crushing circumstances are become better or bitter. If you want to keep the bitterness from settling in, then help someone else.

But that’s not my main point today.

When I went to college and started making friends who knew me for me and didn’t judge me because of my family, town or even who I was three years before, I got a chance to find who I really was. We watched TV shows together, and we started seeing our new identities together. One of my closest friends said to me that I was his Turk. Turk was the name of the lead character’s friend. The sidekick. Tonto. Robin. Goofy, and not Mickey.

I fought it. “No, I’m not Turk. I’m, I’m…” I didn’t know anymore. I saw myself in a totally different light. If I was always in the spotlight, how could I exist in a world with seven billion others of us seeking a spotlight? Everyone wants to be first in someone’s sight.

I started thinking of how lonely Frodo would be without Sam and how much purpose Robin brought Batman. How much greater must the Avengers feel together than being strangely different alone.

Everyone needs a friend. Everyone.

Have you allowed yourself to be there for someone else? Never stating your side of the story or your point of view, or can you stand ready to serve and encourage? I found myself looking at my friend and thinking, if I’ve always needed people to treat me like I’m most important, I bet everyone else is looking for it too. I decided to be his deputy, lieutenant, aide and helper that day.

Someone in your life, on your street, at your job, in your family, or at your church needs you to be second. Get out of the spotlight and help them shine.

Jesus did for you, and He’s the person everyone needs.

Emanuel Webb Hoggard is pastor at Askewville Assembly of God and a resident of Edenton. He can be reached via email at pastorwebb@hotmail.com.

Thadd White can be reached via email at twhite@apgenc.com.