The eighth lesson J.S. Bach taught me is to give who you are to your family.
Bach had a very large family, and he included all of them in his musical vision. Out of his family came two historically distinguished composers in their own right: Carl Phillipp Emanuel (C.P.E.) Bach and Johann Christian (J.C.) Bach.
As I wrote in the previous blog, father Bach may have taught and trained his family members musical skills simply out of necessity, so that he could keep pace with the needs of his ministry. Copying music, rehearsing sections, etc. may have been done by his family members, much like a farmer and his family would work together as a team to keep things running.
Although this is probably part of the benefit that he gained by spending time with his family, as he gave them the musical skills he had acquired, I believe J.S. Bach's motivation was deeper than that.
It's obvious that he had a passion for what he did, and this passion spilled over to every part of his life. His passion and dream was to bring an offering to God of highly crafted music, the best that he could give. This life-quest couldn't help but be influential to everyone he was around, especially his children.
When at the end of the day, instead of watching 5 hours of television, or playing video games, Bach would gather his family around the piano and sing together, each child contributing a musical part, perhaps playing an instrument, or taking turns on the piano. This was their established routine, but it was also their recreation, their fun.
The test of greatness for any teacher is to take something that is complex and difficult and make it fun for the student. I believe, even though his children showed him respect, that father Bach did his part to make this a fun time for them. He couldn't separate his love for his family from his life's passion, nor did he have to. He simply gave them who he was, in a fatherly way, and that was enough.
What were the other families doing? Were they out playing games together? Or maybe they weren't doing anything at all. Maybe other families didn't have the rich times of enjoyment that the Bach family had. Maybe the Bach family was the envy of the town, being able to come together and sing and worship together. Undoubtedly, the material Bach must have used for these times was filled with spiritual lessons, through the lyrics.
Bach was never ashamed of who he was as a father, a Christian, a musician of the highest standards, and his heart was to give to his family who he was. His interaction with his children was interwoven with his dream, and they picked up on it. He was a man of truth, and for him to be one way 'at the office' and another way 'at home' wouldn't have worked for him. He didn't compartmentalize his life. Rather, he lived a vision and a dream big enough (like a big stretched-out tent) to include all of those he loved.
The test of a man's greatness is not how much money he has made or how famous he has become, but rather it's the favor and respect he has from those who are closest to him, his own family. Respect cannot be demanded, but rather it must be earned through years of consistent love and sacrifice.
Someone once said that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". His family both respected him and imitated him. It was his greatest legacy.
Application: Don't worry about what you think you lack as a parent, just give who you are (who God has made you to be). Give them your dream, a dream big enough for all of them to enter. It's their greatest inheritance.