As you read each post in this series,
I hope you’ll think with gratitude about those who have influenced you, and
I hope you’ll ponder your investment in the lives of others.
I’ve saved the greatest, deepest, broadest influence on my life till last. I almost omitted my wife entirely, since I’m too close to fully understand her influence on me, and this article must be too brief to express what I do understand. And I realize that much of my appreciation should be spoken to her alone.
But here are a few things I need to say about her that are very relevant as you reflect on your own influencers and those you influence.
If I were a bachelor, I’d probably be huddled in an apartment somewhere, with a smattering of uncoordinated decorations here and there, rarely eating a balanced, home-cooked meal, nagged by an inner restlessness. That’s not an assessment of all bachelors. It’s an assessment of myself. What value can one place on a beautiful, stable home filled with a joyfully-reciprocated love, shared joys, shared concerns, and 42 years richly-packed with those wonderful, everyday moments? How does one measure the influence of that?
How can I estimate the influence of one who loves me as I am but is not afraid to tell me when I need to do better? Someone who is always there to help when I’m overwhelmed or incompetent or focused in the wrong direction? How can I assess the value of a sister in Christ who shares my faith and love and deepest commitments?
I could go on, but you see what I mean. Her influence is too pervasive to estimate. But she has made a few specific contributions that directly apply to my work:
1. Beginning at age 25, I wrote very little music and focused instead on writing lyrics. A very knowledgeable friend and colleague once told me in no uncertain terms that my gifts lay with writing lyrics, not music. So I sat back and waited for my knight in shining armor—a composer who would share my passion for congregational music and provide all the musical settings I needed. I looked and waited for 20 years, and no one came. But my loving wife faithfully nagged me all that time and finally convinced me to try providing my own music. It was the Lord’s plan, and I’ve never looked back. If I’ve ever written a good hymn setting, thank Gloria.
2. She has no professional knowledge of hymns or of writing in general. But she is a sensitive, sympathetic, godly lay person who by nature says exactly what she thinks. I value her opinion. So I unfailingly play for her every new hymn I write, then listen for her response. I can’t tell you how many times her comments have caused me to give a hymn just the revision it needed.
3. Just shy of my 60th birthday, I got down-sized out of the church music publishing field where I had spent my entire adult life. God clearly called me to focus on writing hymns, and that doesn’t pay the bills. Gloria has taken over as bread-winner, and without her, I literally could not do what I’m doing.
When it comes to appreciating those who have influenced you, or when you’re looking for the best place to invest your own time and encouragement, don’t look past the person standing right next to you.