Today I want to tell you what I learned from Roscoe Morgan.
Who is Roscoe Morgan, you ask?
Roscoe Morgan is a musician and music teacher. His focus is primarily bluegrass music and instruments, though he will teach other styles as well. He currently plays mandolin which C.F. Bailey and Shadowridge
Roscoe also happened to be my mandolin teacher when I had dreams of taking up the instrument a few years ago and becoming an awesome mandolin player. That didn’t quite work out. I learned enough mandolin to become a bad mandolin player. However, I enjoyed getting to know Roscoe and count him a good friend. During my lessons, we talked about many subjects beyond the mandolin and bluegrass music. There is one thing, though, that was probably the greatest lesson that I learned from Roscoe.
Roscoe told me one day about how, when he was growing up, that when he woke up every morning he would play the mandolin until it was time to go to school. When he got home from school, he would play the mandolin. At some point he would realize that it was late and everyone else had gone to bed. He would go downstairs to find that his mom had left a plate of food for supper for him. He would eat, go to bed and start over the next day.
He may not have realized it, but he was doing what I mentioned above. Planned neglect. He focused solely on playing the mandolin (or one of the other many instruments he mastered) and became a virtuoso musician. That is exactly what I did not do and eventually realized that I didn’t want to.
John MacArthur does the same thing. His focus is producing the sermon he will preach each week and neglects any other work until it is done. He focuses on it above any other pastorly duty. Once he completes his sermon, he is free to do any other work required as pastor of his church. However, he feels that his sermon will have the most impact of anything he will do, so it has priority.
I believe that the apostle Paul practiced planned neglect. He neglected anything that would hinder his proclaiming the Gospel to those who would hear. The Gospel was his primary focus in life. It seems that he was so focused on the Gospel that he did not even have a wife and thought it would be great if everyone could be like him.
Me? I’m not so focused. I have competing interests in my life. I could probably use some planned neglect in my life to achieve the goals I have. I have heard the lesson from my friend Roscoe. I just need to put it into practice.
How about you? Do you practice planned neglect in your life?
A few years ago, I decided that I was going to learn how to play the mandolin. I bought a mandolin. I bought a book and DVD. Then I quickly realized that I had no ability to put all of this together and actually learn how to play the instrument.
So I signed up for lessons.
I began taking lessons from a world-class mandolin player named Roscoe Morgan. Our thirty minutes together every week were spent learning the mandolin and discussing everything from family to faith to politics and everything in between.
I didn’t become very good and after a couple of years I gave up it. After several years of reflection, I have figured out the main reason I didn’t become good (besides the fact that I don’t have much musical ability).
I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to make a mistake.
I was so concerned with being precise and hitting every note that I held back. I didn’t go for it.
I haven’t discussed this with anyone, but I don’t think really good musicians worry about whether they hit the notes. They do most of the time, but if they miss one they don’t care. They just keep going. They move on. And let’s be honest. Most of us wouldn’t notice if one note is missed.
What they do is simply deliver the music.
Dave Johnson and Jeff Austin, now of Yonder Mountain String Band, met in college. Dave invited Jeff to join his band at the time, The Bluegrassholes. Austin replied that he did not play an instrument, but that he did own a mandolin. Johnson told him to come on and “play anything, just play fast and loud.” So he did.
Did you see that? Jeff Austin didn’t fear it. He just did it. Now he is in a progressive bluegrass group that has a huge tribe.
Fear did not hold Jeff Austin back.
That is where we need to be in our lives. That is where we need to be in our faith.
It may as simple as getting outside of our comfort zones.
It may be lifting up a hand in praise in a church service.
It may be giving up a week of vacation at the beach for a week on a mission trip.
I can’t decide that for you.
You have to decide that for yourself.
Figure out what fear is holding you back from where you want to go and what you want to be. And go for it.
What is fear holding you back from doing that you really want to do?