Monday, November 23, 2009

OnFire #206 Going Back to School

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #206 Going Back to School

Hi Folks:
What a great day we had yesterday. I baptized one of our young people and that is always exciting.

Deer hunting season is over. I’ve had Ian out a few times and it was nice to spend that time together. Some of you will be pleased to hear that the deer are still safe.

I hope you have a good week.

My high school music teacher stood behind me beating out the rhythm of a piece of music on my head. I’d like to say this was unusual, but we were thick and we didn’t always get it. Plus, being a trumpet player himself, he pushed us a little harder than some of the other sections.

My favourite times were when he grabbed his "horn" and sat beside us to work through difficult parts. It felt so good to play along with him. His presence inspired us to try harder and gave us confidence to play better. Plus, his example showed us how things were supposed to sound.
I’ve been thinking about this as I’ve gone back to high school this week.

No no. I’ve not gone back for classes. I’m helping the trumpets at Ian’s school as the orchestra prepares for their Christmas musical, "White Christmas." It all started at parent-teacher night when the music teacher found out I play trumpet. I’ve gone to a couple of practices so far.

I sit between two trumpet players. One has played for three years and plays decently well, but has no power. The other has only played a year and struggles to produce good tone. Their teacher tells me that sitting with them gives them confidence. Cool.

Here’s the neat thing. Its not my ability to play the music perfectly that gives them confidence. Far from it, the music is challenging and I’m playing it for the first time. Plus, I sometimes get the "count" wrong and come in at the wrong place. But even though I don’t do it perfectly, I give them confidence. I’m further down the road and it helps them.

This week I met with a pastor friend. Once in a while we get together to chat about how things are going in life and ministry. He’s a little older and more experienced, a little further down the road. I love to listen to his "war stories" and sometimes I ask him questions. It helps me and gives me confidence.

The two stories are not so different. In the first, I was helping, and in the second, someone was helping me. Both are important and I mention them for two reasons.

First, we need the help and wisdom of people who have "been there and done that." At present this is helping me with a dry spell. I need a little help to stay spiritually fresh. But, here’s where I find my problem. There are times my pride makes me think that I can do it on my own. Or, I worry about imposing upon someone. But my options really are limited - stay the way I am, or get help - so I set myself aside and call to ask for time to chat.

Here’s the other reason. We can help others coming down the road behind us. Sometimes we wonder what benefit we could possibly be to someone else. After all, we know our own weaknesses and failures. Here’s the thing - we don’t have to be perfect, just a little further down the road. And, believe it or not, our presence actually helps the people coming behind us to feel more confident.

Paul provides the example: "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1*). We all look to Christ, but we also need the example of those ahead of us, and the people behind us need our example, too.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Nov 23, 2009. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at * Scripture taken from the New International Version. 

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