being ready for broken strings

two guitarsEvery Sunday, my friend Lee stands in front of about 500 people and plays his guitar.  He hits the six strings hundreds, maybe thousands of times. He plays hard, using his guitar to help draw music from our vocal cords. Those six thin wires are at the center of the sound.

It’s an invitation for failure.

Lee changes the strings regularly. It is, for him, part of the cost of doing business.

But strings can still break.

So every Sunday, Lee carries two guitars down the hallway from his office to the gym. Every Sunday, he tunes both guitars. Every Sunday, he has two guitars in the guitar stand.

I know what you are thinking: big rock stars have backup guitars, but Lee’s no big rock star.  It’s the biggest music gathering in Grabill, Indiana every week, but Grabill’s not so big, either.

But Lee’s responsible for helping 500 voices sing, 500 faces find God. He takes that responsibility seriously. A broken string is a large distraction. And rather than hoping it doesn’t happen, Lee spends the time to have a backup.

Many people I know look at the mission-critical task they do and think, “I hope that doesn’t happen.” Or they think, “Oh well, people will understand.” or they think, “But I don’t have the time to do that twice.” Or they think, “I can’t afford that.”

Meanwhile, every week, Lee quietly prepares a second guitar.

What’s your second guitar? Is it ready?


9 responses to “being ready for broken strings

  1. Can’t tell you how much this means to me. Timely and interesting. I love it.

    Wonder if Seth knows.

  2. anotherstiffler

    That is awesome. Thanks Chris, too, for sending out that link. I think I’ll need to ponder this some more today.

  3. Fantastic post. I think it’s time to revisit my “ounce of prevention” plan.

  4. Having played guitar in performance situations, I can vouch for the importance of a second guitar. On stage, as in life, a string will usually break at the least opportune time. Great post.

  5. Great post it is amazing how many times I fly with no second guitar. I need to always carry the second guitar. Timely post. Thanks

  6. I love the seemingly old-fashioned pride in turning in a flawless performance – being responsible for yourself, your play and your game.
    Thanks for the thought.

  7. while all of you are reading and commenting, i’m sitting in a funeral, running tech. And then I go to pick up our daughter at college for the weekend.

    I’m listening to stories about a guy who couldn’t remember specific stories about helping people because all he did was to help people. Family, coworkers, friends…all have stories about Art.

    I’d love to be able to help so many people I couldn’t keep track.

    I think I won’t be able to reply to each of you.

    One of my second guitars is remembering to focus well, in the present, on the people I’m serving. You, yes, but also this grieving family…and my immediate family.

    Thanks, friend Chris.

  8. Inspiring. Powerful. Read it once, know it forever. Come to think of it, ought to be taught at schools (and mass media and related loonies would jump all over it because Lee strings his two guitars with, God forbid, God in mind).

  9. Great read.