It's been a while since I wrote the first blog in the "Things I learned from:" series. For fun, feel free to read my original post, about Mom. This time, Dad takes center stage. When I wrote the original blog about Mom, I kept things a bit more short and sweet. A shy writer at first, I didn't expound much. Dad gets a longer post. I'm sorry, Mom! :)
To set up the list below: My Dad has taught me so much. I could brag about this guy in so many ways. An impeccably precise and creative musician, he's mastered the art of accomplishing both of those descriptors. Marrying precision and creativity presents its own challenge. Musicians tend to be either precise to the point of robotic, or creative, at the expense of precision. My Dad constantly wows me with his ability to marry the two, seamlessly. Also, as music pastor, he's demonstrated how to lead worship through music with excellence and passion. Seriously, on and on I could go. I'll hop to the list. ;) But first - a photo of my parents.
Although most points below deal with music, I believe that you'll find them to be widely applicable, as well.
Below: The lovebirds, themselves. Don't you just love them?! Side note - their back yard is gorgeous, no??
1. Practice for practice. This truly need not apply solely to music. However, since I come from a family of musicians, music serves as the example here. When rehearsal is scheduled, practice ahead of time. Arriving unprepared for rehearsal doesn't do anyone else on the team any favors. Every week, my sister and I would watch my Dad practice for the rehearsal he'd lead. Putting together his binder, marking it with the (infamous) red pen, preparing his charts for the band or orchestra, conducting each song and transition thoroughly, and running through the choral parts, no item was ever left neglected. Always have a plan. People respect and appreciate the leadership of one who cares about giving people the best version of what they have to offer. This practice applies to so many facets of life! Am I offering my best, practicing (or preparing) for things ahead of time? Good questions to ask. :)
2. "If you have a clear chart the first time, you won't have to redo it..." When I was a college student at music school, I'd frequently call Dad for help with my homework and projects. Occasionally, I still call Dad when writing a chart and there's a crazy jazz chord that I can't decipher. He's the chart king, y'all... seriously. When I sit down to prepare for our group, I can hear him saying that exact quote, above, in my mind! I feel like this lesson really doesn't require much explanation. Apply this to whatever you like - If you do it right the first time, you won't have to go back and re-do it. People won't always be on your case, correcting you and asking lots of questions due to lack of direction and clarity. People will view you as a competent leader. Be it music, sports, work, presentations, whatever. Just plain old good advice from Dad. Do the work ahead of time.
3. Don't ever be too serious. Let people get to know you by allowing them to see your goofy side. Cut loose and let people feel relaxed around you! They'll get to know you better that way, and chances are, they'll enjoy spending time with you. Fun example: Did you know that you can say your F's and V's by mirroring the way you normally do it?! I learned this magical trivia from my Dad. If you make the ffff sound by blowing air through your top teeth on your bottom lip, try doing the opposite. Bottom teeth on top lip. Now that you've read that twice to understand it, and you've likely tried it... admit it: Your whole world just opened up to a magical land, didn't it?! Haha!!
4. Dote on your spouse, and also build them up in front of your kids. My sister and I saw Dad hug and kiss Mom countless times, tell her she was beautiful, tell her that he loves her, and we never doubted it. Give your spouse the honor of knowing what they mean to you. Speak kindly of your family in public, don't complain about them or trash-talk them. Verbalize your love in front of your children, as well. Please, don't ever let your spouse or children question how you feel about them. Build them up, don't tear them down. Even if you're not tearing them down, sometimes what's left unsaid can cause question. Verbalize your love. The way we speak of others and treat others leaves a deeper impression than we realize.
5. Look for good deals! I tell ya what... I learned how to bargain shop from both parents, but Dad ROCKS those 75% off racks at Dillard's!! All the way back to late childhood, I recall Dad coming home from the mall and showing off what he scored on clearance. Ralph Lauren oxford shirt for $18, Tommy sweater for $20, on and on. He rarely pays full retail and always finds quality items. Thrifty living techniques have definitely been passed down from generation to generation in our family, and I intend to blog on that one day, soon, as well! This is a skill we take seriously! :)
6. Get out and be with people. My Dad served on staff at a large church in south Florida for many years. The church was large enough to have a full-time custodial crew who managed the grounds. Some of the crew only spoke Spanish. Having grown up in south Florida as well, my Dad knows enough Spanish to say basic phrases and pleasantries. Always keeping ministry at the front of his mind, Dad looks for opportunities to bless others. Throughout the day, when they'd see each other, Dad would stop what he was doing to make sure they knew that they were cared for and appreciated. He'd say "Dios te bendiga!", and do his best to have a meaningful conversation with them, in his broken Spanish. When my parents decided to move to Tennessee, Dad turned in his resignation at the church. A hand written letter appeared on his desk soon thereafter, signed by all of the Spanish speaking crew, thanking him for always reaching out and showing them that he cared. People will always remember how you made them feel. Create meaningful memories for others, and bless their lives.
I saved the longest lesson for last...
7. Always yield to the Holy Spirit and spend time in worship each day. This lesson contains two points. Christian brothers and sisters who read this, please know that these points carry so much weight!
Yeilding: This lesson I've learned from Dad comes from years of watching him lead worship at church. Prepared administratively, musically, and with a plan that was always on-point, I'd still see Dad lower the microphone, mid-phrase, raise his hands, red and teary-eyed, surrendering to the moving of the Holy Spirit during worship. Perhaps he'd repeat the last verse of that hymn, leaving the orchestra to find their way back to the coda on their own. Perhaps he'd sit at the piano and lead that last song one more time, allowing time for people to remain at the altar, praying. We should always know who is sovereign. We are not - the Lord is - and we follow His leading. Maybe you feel that nudge within to get out for lunch instead of working through your break? Go do it. You never know who you'll run into and what kind of conversation you might have. God uses so many every day moments to do His work through willing, yielded people.
Spending time in worship: A teacher can only teach material to the extent of what they've learned. I could probably teach up to middle school math, but beyond that level, I'd have no way of knowing what I was doing! Funny AND sad! Ha! Church leaders, I feel that this is one of the most important lessons we can learn - If we want to lead God's people, we need to know Him. Are we worshiping at home? Spending time with the Lord? Use your car ride to work as daily prayer time. Sing along with worshipful music on the way, if you like. Discuss the Lord with other believers. Pray. You'll grow closer to Him as a result. Mom and Dad's Bible always sits at the breakfast table, open, and ready for them to dig into the Word of God early in the morning.
Hopefully, the lessons I learned from Dad inspire you, as well. Did anything stand out to you in a meaningful way? What lessons have you learned from someone near to your heart? I'd love to know!