Tuesday, December 18, 2007


This weekend I experienced the strong effect of affirmation.

We had a performance at the church of our Christmas program for the adult and youth choirs. As is my custom lately, we included a jazz piece in which Leland played trumpet and flugal horn.

Leland was a music major in college years ago, and also plays piano and organ. He has written several new tunes to classic hymn texts like "Nothing But the Blood" and "Deep Deep Love of Jesus." Our church loves his songs and we sing them often. I have the feeling that he has several others and is waiting for the opportunity to introduce them. That would be great.

Leland's daughters are also in the youth choir, so he is a significant participant in the music program.

Last spring, Leland came to the Covenant College Jazz Band rehearsals two afternoons a week. He entered into the tunes and worked to understand jazz harmony and melody. During that experience, he mentioned to me a couple of times that he was learning a lot.

He recruited another Covenant alumnus to play with us-- Jim Pettit, who is a trombonist. And together they began to plan a missions trip to Ireland under the auspices of Mission to the World. They began talking to me about the possibility of putting together a jazz-style band for a music missions trip, and I offered a few suggestions for tunes and personnel. Anthony Griggs(guitar) and Ryan De Waters(bass) agreed to go as well. Ultimately a very fine pianist and educator from Georgia named Larry Barker accompanied the trip. He probably made a huge difference, since I heard that he mentored the younger players patiently and ably.

So after the Christmas program this weekend, Leland passed me in the hall.

"We have a fantastic music program here at our church. The music we do is just incredible. You are a gifted musician, Jim. Thanks for all you do."

Leland had already shown his dedication by agreeing to play trumpet in the jazz ensemble for the program, even though he had to go straight to work afterward and work all night.

I don't know how I can ever show my appreciation to all the people who affirm me in my work. In this case, I just said, "I love you, Leland." It just came out, and I rarely say it to anyone except my family. To me love means a willingness to go to the wall for someone, like I Corinthians 13 says.

But sometimes love is the only explanation to a person who shows appreciation and it is obviously not flattery nor excessive. I love Leland and numerous others who have been there consistently during my work and my life. They keep on saying yes, and showing up without needing a lot of attention.

Today, as I go to work, Leland's affirmation is ringing in my heart. Thank God for his kind encouragement, bred of experience and insight, mixed with personal commitment and his own family's benefit.

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About Me

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I am a person who is perceived as youthful, although I am in my late 50s. I play and sing music, and it tends to keep me in the culture, like a lot of young people do. I am a "high I" on the DISC Behavioral Test, which means I'm optimistic, enthusiastic, a team player, and I motivate others toward goals. I don't like exercise, but I have a high metabolism, so I don't tend to be overweight at this time in my life! I have recently been doing moderate exercise and physical therapy for a shoulder condition.