J.S. Bach was perhaps the greatest music minister to have ever lived. As I am a music minister, and have sought to find inspiring examples to help motivate my work, I have learned to appreciate Bach's life-example (not just his works) as an excellent model of both Christianity as well as musicality.
When I was in 5th grade, we were asked to do a book report on any historical figure that we desired. You guessed it, I picked Bach. Ever since then, the books I have read, the works I have listened to, and even the life experiences that I have had as a music minister have deepened my respect for this man.
The first lesson I learned from J.S. Bach that I would like to share is that he was a man who studied the works of others. I learned, back when I was doing the book report in 5th grade, that Bach studied the works of those who had come before him, like Vivaldi, among others. He had to go to great lengths to get Vivaldi's manuscripts and would hand-copy them by candle-light secretly at night for his own research and study. He would travel several days to reach concerts that he thought would give him some bit of musical wisdom. Time and time again he demonstrated that he had a passion for any knowledge that would come available to him.
Many times, in today's society, we look for the 'new' or the 'trend', but lessons from those who have come before us, from those who have created works that have withstood the tests of time, are of greater value. The future is built on the lessons we have learned from the past. Many people do not receive inspiration from the past, thinking that it will somehow hinder their vision and hope for a better future. I have found, however, that the more I know about the past, the greater my understanding of the future will be (as human history has a tendency to repeat itself).
By studying the life of Bach, as a music minister, I have found that many of the same difficulties he had could very well be right around the corner for me (although by comparison I've got it easy!). Knowing what happened with him helps me navigate around or through similar situations. At the very least, it gives me comfort to know that someone else has been successful before me.
So my first lesson to you is this: Look to the past to those who have lived and created before you, and dig for hidden treasure. You may be surprised at what you find!