“He’s gonna kill me!” I muttered under my breath. I just knew it! I had really gone and done it this time. I think what made it so bad was who it was. I mean, this guy was one of my heroes. I wanted nothing more than to make him proud of me! He was the one that was there when I had some of the biggest events in my life! But this times I had truly gone too far. Let me explain.
Boyd Tweedy is a man that shaped me… seriously changed my life. He was the music/children’s minister at my church. If the doors of the church were open, I was there, and so was he. He was involved with most every aspect of my life outside of school. He planned the biggest event of the year, the one that I waited all year to attend, our annual children’s camp! He was the main leader of our yearly Vacation Bible School! He was the leader of the puppet ministry that I SO BADLY wanted to be a part of. I wanted to be just like him! I loved this man. I thought he was the coolest guy alive, except for maybe the Fonz. And he always had this one thing with him, it was always as close to him as his right hand. It was his guitar.
Did I mention that I wanted to be like him? Well, when my 11 year-old ears heard that he was going to start a class on Sunday afternoons to teach guitar, I was beyond excited! My grandmother thought it was a great idea too, so she got me a guitar for my birthday. I signed up, along with about 15 other people, to take the class. As the day approached, I was beside myself with anticipation.
That Sunday afternoon I arrived early for the class so that I could sit in the front row. I walked into the music room and no one was there yet. So I went through the door in the back of the music room into Brother Boyd’s office and no one was there either. I then turned around to walk back out and there it was – Brother Boyd’s guitar! I couldn’t stop staring at it, sitting there on a stand which was on a small table in the corner of his office by the door.
I couldn’t resist. I picked it up and marveled at its beauty. It was amazing. I put the strap over my shoulder and stood there holding it, imagining I was Brother Boyd standing in front of the church playing it. I hit the strings with a loud, terrible KRANNNNGGGGG sound and quickly silenced it hoping that no one down the halls had heard. Even still my heart skipped a beat at the sound. This was a thing of beauty!
Knowing it was almost time for people to begin showing up, I took it off and placed it back on the stand. But I didn’t know how to do it correctly. I made a mistake that even to this day gives me a gringy feeling. To my shame, the guitar flipped to the side and fell over the side of the small table into a mic stand that was sitting next to it. It made a huge crashing sound and I thought surely my heart had stopped. I reached down and picked it up and there, on the face of the guitar, right next to the strings was a hole! A HOLE! In the wood! I kid you not, a gaping hole.
I almost died. My hands were shaking! What had I done! This was the guitar that played gently along with the crickets around the nightly campfires at the children’s camp. This was the guitar that led our rambunctious singing during Bible School. This guitar was the stuff my dreams were made of and suddenly it became the substance of my worst nightmare. He was gonna kill me. I just knew it. I had really gone and done it this time!
A few short minutes later, guitar class began and he walked in with that guitar strapped over his shoulder. He asked the class if anyone knew anything about it. You could hear a pin drop. He looked at us all. I must’ve had a look on my face like a flashing neon sign saying “GUILTY… GUILTY… GUILTY ” But he immediately began playing his guitar and singing this soft song with his eyes closed.
“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
As if nothing was wrong and nothing ever happened, he taught us the song. Three simple chords later, the song was burned into my heart. I knew how much that guitar meant to him and I was devastated that this man, the one that I wanted to impress so much, was going to be so disappointed in me. I had no idea he was teaching me more than guitar.
After the class was over, he came to me when no one was around and asked me if I knew anything about his guitar. I just looked down. I never said a word. He reached down behind his desk and said, “Boy I’m glad it didn’t happen to my brand new Ovation guitar!” Then he handed me my guitar case off the floor and with a laugh he said, “Now go practice that song!”
“And by the way,” he added, “Don’t touch the Ovation.” He said with a wink.
This man was a constant in my life. He went on to allow me to join the puppet ministry a year before anyone else had joined before. He was the one my mom called when she was at her wit’s end with me and needed me to go talk to someone. He was the man that I cried out to when one of my friends committed suicide. He was the man that walked me through my calling into ministry and helped me determine if it was truly God’s will for my life. He’s the man that I called when I was broken hearted about the state of affairs in my church after our senior pastor had left and I was the associate pastor with lots of questions. He always had godly advice, answers, and kept me focused on Jesus. He always reminded me that he was praying for me.
But you know what? He is just a man. I wasn’t related to him. I wasn’t a part of his family and he could have easily given up on me several times. He never did and he never has. God totally used him to make me into the person I am today.
I got the nerve up to tell him one day what he meant to me. I don’t remember where we were but I remember thinking that I had to tell him. I poured my heart out to him about how much he meant to me. I mentioned the guitar class and how I just knew I had gone too far. And I told him that because of him never giving up on me, God truly moved through him in my life to guide me into ministry and into being the man I am today. Then I made this statement.
“I don’t know why you did it… why you never gave up on me, I mean, you treated me like family.”
He responded in his usual, quick-witted way, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord…” He went on to tell me that we are indeed family. Another song he always sang immediately came to mind.
“I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God, I’ve been washed in the fountain cleansed by His blood, joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, for I’m part of the family, the family of God…”
This song, They’ll Know we are Christians, written in the 1960s by then-Catholic priest, the late Fr. Peter Scholtes, was brought to life before my eyes in the life of Boyd Tweedy. He lives his life as a servant of love for everyone he meets. I have no doubt that many have come to Jesus because of the love of this man. His love for me was proof of his faith, and God Himself used it to change me and in turn is using me to change others. It’s a ripple effect that Brother Boyd Tweedy will never understand the impact of, this side of Heaven. Boyd Tweedy is a man that shaped me… seriously changed my life!
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.