10 Lessons I've Learned from J.S. Bach (part 7)

The seventh lesson J.S. Bach taught me is to teach and train others.

There is a distinct difference between teaching and training.  Teaching is simply giving out information to those who are listening.  Training, however, is guiding the student into the life-integration of these principles.  When the principles have been completely absorbed into the subconsciousness of the student, it is at this point that the student is fully trained.

Bach was constantly training those around him.  He trained his children, his young students, his community, and ultimately, generations of musicians to come.

His intent was to give who he was to others, to distribute his knowledge.  Possibly, it was out of necessity.  He needed a veritable army of skilled people to surround him with aid, those to whom he could delegate tasks of such things as copying parts.  But I believe he had a deeper conviction than simply delegation for the sake of productivity.  One of the main goals of Christianity is that of sharing God's grace with others.  "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..." (Matt. 28:19)  Bach, a student of the Bible, had read this passage.  Notice the emphasis of making disciples.  The word 'disciple' means 'disciplined follower'.  I believe that Bach's ultimate goal was to do his part in the propagation of the Gospel, by raising up disciplined followers who would carry his dream of great music in the Church, proclaiming the Gospel through music for generations to come.  I believe he envisioned the potential of his dream echoing into the future through those he trained.

He wrote numerous musical studies for his students to use, but in a larger way, one could almost say that his entire corpus of creativity was profoundly educational.  It seems like everything he wrote took on an intellectually stimulating voice that beckoned: "look a little deeper, there's a hidden secret I want to share with you". 

How many generations of musicians did he effect?  Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bartok, Stravinsky, to name a few.  His work is still being studied by contemporary creators.  Who knows how many more will follow?

Not only did Bach train his immediate students and community in the art of producing highly-crafted music, but he also successfully facilitated his dream of proclaiming the Gospel into future generations.  "That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God." (Ps. 78:6-7)  Bach, perhaps, has had a greater Christian witness than some of the greatest preachers and theologians throughout history.  His life's example of unselfishly sharing and giving to others will continue to echo through the generations.

Application: Don't allow the contemporary attitude of competitiveness to hinder you from giving to others, building others up with encouragement and assistance.  As you give your life away, you never know how far-reaching the effects will be.