Inspiring Action, Motivating Change

Welcome to another week! I can’t believe this crazy weather. It was 70 degrees on Easter, but six days later a couple inches of snow fell.

Last week I wrote about the waning presence of men in our churches. I’ve been pondering this problem, and conclude that inspiring men might be the best way to encourage them return to church.

When someone inspires me to action, they are really motivating me to change. I believe the ability to inspire people is one of the most powerful and unique gifts a person can have. But how do you inspire someone? I think, like love, we know what it feels like but can’t always describe it.

Many people have inspired me in my life. But when I think of inspiring men, my former band director, Denis Joyce, always comes to mind. Mr. Joyce inspired me in two ways: words of encouragement and by living by example.

Band was my passion in school. I play the trumpet, cornet, to be precise, and my band director was as important to me as any friend could’ve been. When my battle with bipolar depression started in 1992, band was one of the only lights during that dark winter. Mr. Joyce invited me to join stage band that year, a great honor for an eighth-grader. Band practice was often the only reason I could motivate myself to get out of bed when I was depressed. Stage band was a godsend.

Throughout junior high and high school, Mr. Joyce inspired me to play my absolute best. Marching band, especially, is where he challenged and inspired me. Learning to play complex rhythms, memorize three songs for halftime, three for pregame and two for parades was intimidating. Throw learning field show routines into the mix, and I was really overwhelmed.

But no matter how hard the task seemed, Mr. Joyce made me want to do it par excellence. He demonstrated the steps and gave us tapes of the music, which helped me memorize it. Every marching band practice ended with an amazing pep talk. He wrote us encouraging letters before each game and parade, letting us know what to expect. And always he pushed us to reach our full potential.

As important as his encouraging words were, it was his example that really drove me to attain excellence. Mr. Joyce put all of his energy and passion into his work, particularly his conducting.

Directing music takes incredible multitasking aptitude. Reading a musical score overwhelms me. You have to read every instrument’s part, point to each section as they come in, and move a baton in rhythm to keep the band at the right speed (tempo). You have to focus every second. And, on top of all this, Mr. Joyce labored to ensure every eye was on him during performances.

Mr. Joyce motivated me to change. I always took music seriously, but he inspired me to give it my all. His passion for musical excellence drove him to push himself and his students to achieve excellence, even perfection.

Mr. Joyce’s words and actions characterize inspiration in my mind. If we could inspire the men in our lives and communities to push themselves for spiritual excellence, our churches will revive. Words of encouragement and leading by example will go a long way toward reaching that goal.

I thank God for the life of Denis Joyce, and for the privilege of knowing and being under his tutelage. One day I’ll see him in heaven, and I can tell you, I’ll be overjoyed to see him.

Kennard United Methodist Church is hosting two fun events in the coming weeks. They’re having a craft, hoagie, and Amish baked goods sale on Saturday, April 16, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There will be more than 20 vendors. Hoagies cost five dollars apiece, and lunch will also be available.

I’ve stopped by several craft fairs at Kennard United Methodist and it’s always a fun way to spend the morning. They usually have homemade pies, bread, cookies, and soup for sale.

One year I bought a handcarved cross, and my mom has bought handmade jewelry there, too. Why not check it out?

Kennard United Methodist is also having a ham loaf dinner on Saturday, April 23, from 4 to 7 p.m. The price for the meal, including dessert, is $7.00 for adults and $3.50 for children.

Ham loaf is one of my favorite foods. My late grandma used to make it on Christmas Eve, so it’s one of my comfort foods. Maybe it could become one of yours, too.

Fallowfield United Methodist Church is hosting a yard sale beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 30. They will also be selling baked goods. Stop by!

Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, April 26.

As you know, it’s the presidential primary, so it’s even more important than ever to cast your ballot. Brave soldiers have fought and died to preserve our freedoms, including the right to vote. I hope you’ll ask God’s direction before voting. This is a crucial election.

Have a wonderful week. Blessings!