It was October 1977. Immanuel Baptist Church in Monahans, Texas really went out on a limb and took a chance on a 15-year-old high school sophomore.
The church’s volunteer music director, Billie Sue Lewis (no relation to yours truly), had recently suffered a minor stroke. It was not life-threatening or seriously debilitating, but she decided it was time to step down as Immanuel’s music director.
I don’t remember who actually called and asked me if I would consider being the church’s music director, but I’m certain that neither that person nor I had any idea that it would begin an incredible journey of “church” work that would still be going 40 years later.
I think what they actually thought was, “Here’s a kid who sings pretty well, who doesn’t have a driver’s license, and whose mother is the church organist. We should at least get a year out of him.”
I got my driver’s license just a few months later, but it didn’t really change very much. My parents were not of the opinion that the gasoline required for multiple vehicles was a good investment when one vehicle was going that way anyway.
Especially with gas prices approaching 70 cents per gallon!
So as long as the church could keep my mother as the organist, I would be there on Sundays. Therefore, my license had no bearing on my status as music director. It just allowed me to become the organist’s Sunday chauffeur.
I don’t think the church benefitted very much from my filling that position, other than knowing who would be standing up waving his hands during the singing every Sunday. My mother even had to teach me what to do with my hands.
But the encouragement I got from that little church affected me in ways I could not possibly have understood at the time, but now I see as a priceless gift.
I got paid absolutely nothing for the 2 1/2 years I spent as the music director of Immanuel Baptist Church, but I am absolutely positive that I would not be where I am today, doing the things I’m doing and still working with churches if they had not taken a chance on me.
Churches, organizations, and even for-profit businesses could learn a good lesson from that little west Texas church. You won’t always have the luxury of hiring the best, brightest, and most qualified to fill every position right now.
Great leaders look beyond right now. They know how to look for potential. They know that taking a chance on the right person is an investment in the future – not just for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the world. They know that experience and talent matter, but willingness to consistently learn and grow – with the right kind of supervision and mentoring – can create the kind of experience that allows raw talent to flourish into effectiveness.
Taking a chance on the right person is an investment in the future Click To Tweet
Life matters. Who can you take a chance on today?