The holidays seem to always provide times of reflection and nostalgia. Some intensely sad and some precious and sweet.
As I sat yesterday morning in a seat among throngs of people thrilling to the amazing talent and thorough preparation of Melissa Greene and her team at the Christmas musicale at Gracepointe Church in Franklin, TN myriad emotions flooded my soul.
Here are a few attempts at putting them into words:
Encouraging others is one of the most important things we can do in life.
As I watched Melissa direct her amazing choir, my mind raced back to the times when as a teenager she was in the front row as I directed our choir. I hope the smile and joy on my face was half as big and encouraging as hers was yesterday. And now her daughter Haven (pictured) stands before her just as she stood in front of me over twenty years ago. And so life comes full circle. I encouraged her as a youngster and now she encourages me as I grow older. Timeless.
Encouraging others is one of the most lasting things we can do in life.
Any true mentoring relationship will have its times of closeness and separation. I have experienced that in most of the proteges I have mentored. It’s been true for Melissa and I—but the pure and loving relationship we have now has lasted beyond (and despite) our humanity. To be a mentor—an encourager—you must know this truth. Do not expect a return on the time poured into people’s lives. Have zero expectations. Most of the proteges I’ve poured into—some for years—have never uttered a single thank you. And if, perchance, you are granted a priceless moment like I experienced yesterday—be eternally thankful. They are timeless.
Encouraging others is one of the most frustrating things we can do in life.
Most proteges (church members, friends, even your children) put you on a pedestal—no matter how much you insist they don’t. And when you fail—and fail you will—the human psyche (read psychosis) that caused them to idolize you will make them ostracize you in equal proportion. For some unknown reason, human beings cannot place life on a timeline and value the good. We are all guilty of judging people for the immediate. For over fifty-six years I have encouraged and loved people in a kind and just manner—but for many people (ironically most of them Christian) my life will be forever judged by three years of struggle, hurt and failure. But the rare few that are able to see you for who you really are—human and frail—make everything worth it. Timeless.
Encouraging others is one of the most ironic things we can do in life.
Melissa will be featured on NBC’s Sing-Off this Wednesday evening. And I will be watching—a very proud mentor. For some unknown twist of fate, many of the people that have sat under my influence, either directly or indirectly, have achieved celebrity and notoriety. Melissa, Third Day, Jay DeMarcus, Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Paramore, Alan Jackson, Rebecca St. James, Michael Hyatt, Ken Davis, Jars of Clay, Red, LIVE, For King & Country, Dan Cathy, Rachel Potter and I could go on and on. Some have “failed” publicly, others yet to fall, and others—the most miserable, actually—have carefully hidden and repressed their foibles. Some of these people are dear to me, others will shudder to be mentioned here, and others have long forgotten me.
And yet, some of the least celebrated have accomplished the most. At least, in my estimation. Vicky Beeching, Ronnie West, Robert Comeaux, Derek Webb, Garreth Higgins, Nathan Johns, Kathy King, Rod Rachinski, Stan Mitchell, Charlie Lowell, L.C. Campbell, Mike Woolley, Jimbo Gulley, and yes, thankfully, I could go on and on… Timeless.
So, you may ask, how does one build a legacy that is timeless? Be good. Be christian. Be perfect. No.
The way to build a timeless legacy that is important and lasting—is frustrating, and yes, ironically simple.