He’s being called “the new Susan Boyle,” and you only have to watch the video to see why (two profanities edited out). The media are again making much of the “ugly duckling” angle, but there are two other lessons from this “parable.”
The power of partnership
When you first see this so-called “Beauty and the Beast” pairing, you wonder how they ever got together…then you hear their moving story unfold. When Jonathan Antoine’s painful shyness and weight problems made him an obvious and easy target for bullies, Charlotte stuck up for him and protected him. Jonathan admitted: ”I would not be going on stage today without Charlotte at my side.”
“Do you think you can win?” asked a skeptical Simon Cowell as they stepped on stage.
“Yeah…together,” they replied in unison.
But when Cowell later suggested to Jonathan that he was unbelievably great, whereas Charlotte was just good; that Charlotte might be a drag on his certain future stardom; and even that he should “dump her” to get ahead, the audience held its breath.
Will he throw her under the bus? Will he take the gold and leave the gal?
“NO!’ he responded. We came on here as a duo and we’ll stay here as a duo.” And all the ladies wept (OK and not a few guys teared up too – this one included!).
There’s no question of Jonathan’s superior singing talent, but he knows that without her by his side he couldn’t sing a note on stage.
“Two are better than one,” said Solomon (Eccl. 4:9). True in Britain’s Got Talent. True in marriage. True in disciple-making.
The power of pain
There’s something about suffering that gives a unique power to singing. You only have to look at Susan Boyle or Jonathan Antoine to know that they must have had a really tough time growing up in our cruel world.
And you can hear it in their singing. You can’t help but feel that, just as with Susan Boyle, Jonathan poured 17 years of agonizing suffering into those powerful three minutes on stage. It’s in his posture, it’s in his expression, it’s in his gestures, it’s especially in the deep pathos of his voice.
And we connect. We resonate. We empathize. 100 other singers, possibly even better singers, could sing the same song and it would do nothing for us. But there’s something mysterious, something indefinable, in the voice of a genuine sufferer that lasers our hearts and stirs our deepest emotions.
And it’s the same in preaching, counseling, and even witnessing. Suffering brings a unique, powerful dimension to all human communication. We can tell the difference between a preacher who’s just preaching the commentaries and one who’s preaching out of his own deep experience.
Suffering is not just the best singing school. It’s also the best Seminary.