Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor
I’ve always been kind of embarrassed by my guitar playing abilities.
When i started playing, i was around 13, and since i played piano, i picked it up immediately. Strumming patterns were no big deal, since my right hand was used to doing complicated stuff on the piano, so i got pretty proficient pretty quickly. My left hand learned the basic shapes, and once i traded up from the first piece of junk guitar i had, learned most of the complicated ones as well.
Problem was, i never got any better.
The excuse i used was ‘i’m REALLY a piano player’ and since my parents had only paid for a few months of group lessons (that came with the aforementioned first piece of junk guitar) i never asked anyone to show me scales and riffs and things i couldn’t figure out on my own (which was MOST things.) So, over time, i just decided that my lot in life was to be a good rhythm guitarist. Over the years, i’ve learned how to play to my strengths.
But i secretly wished i could be the lead guitar player guy. The one with his fingers flying all over the fretboard, taking solos, throwing in spectacular riffs in the spaces between the vocal lines…you know, that obnoxious, but cool guy. Clapton, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen…or when i got older, be like Brad Paisley and sing and play ridiculously well, too.
For the past couple of years, i’ve really been working on it, practicing scales, keeping a guitar on the sofa so my son and i can noodle during commercials. I got a pedal board and have a great old tube amp, and a bunch of electric guitars, so there’s always one handy. No more excuses.
So, why blog about it?
Well, i was reading this morning an online article with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. In the interview she said she’d never wanted to play lead, that what got her interested in guitar was the old James Brown records where the rhythm player set the groove and the tone for the whole band.
In other words, there’s no shame in being the rhythm player. I need to be reminded of that some times.
Now, since 93.6% of you don’t play guitar, you’re probably asking “what has any of this got to do with me?”
Embrace what you do in the body of Christ.
People who help folks find a parking spot are playing rhythm.
People who greet and do check-ins are playing rhythm.
People who make coffee and set out donut holes and clean up spills are rhythm players, too.
Don’t worry that somebody else is onstage singing (okay…in this case, it’s me… most of my analogies break down at some point) or that someone else is preaching; someone else is doing the job you think would be cool, and continue to do what YOU do to help make ‘the band’ sound good. To bring people to Christ. To make the atmosphere welcoming. To wrap your arms around some little child when their world may appear to be falling apart.
Ephesians 5 tells us to ‘be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.’
Stonepoint Church can’t continue to make God famous without you.
And it sounds awful if you’re not playing your part.