Here You Add–November 13, 2011


She was sad, having absolutely no idea how to rise from the ashes of a devastating relationship which had produced three young whelps who had plans of their own which certainly did not include her well-earned Master’s Degree in Music and virtuoso ability on the oboe. She sat in a room with me, having fresh tears on her cheeks, the veteran of an abusive situation with the man who was the father of her children, but certainly not the husband of her dreams, leaving her financially destitute, with no recourse but to find the best job possible in the quickest way possible. She said, “I guess I’ll never play oboe again.”

I was saddened, alarmed, infuriated, passionate and bewildered–all in the same moment. “Why?” I inquired.

“Because I have messed up so badly and I need to be a mother to these children and make money as quickly as possible, and that just doesn’t have anything to do with blowing through a horn.”

She was speaking conventional wisdom, which is great if you’re going to a convention, but usually doesn’t do much for the personal welfare of an individual human being. It made me think about my situation–not because I was trying to be selfish, but because I realized that the purpose of having a clean emotional slate is to make you able to evaluate what you’ve really got and muster a thankful thinking that allows you to take your mustard seed of ability and faith and plant it in the right direction. 

I had been successful doing things that were musical and had achieved some prowess with writing. Now I wondered if I could compose music for the oboe and take this dear woman’s abilities and keep them moving forward, generating some finance for her family and also producing some new possibilities for my own career. I prepared myself for the multiplication of talents.

The reason most people never multiply their talents is because they’re unwilling to admit they have talent. Why? Because the admission of talent brings forth two crazy “r’s” in our lives.  The first one if responsibility.  If I have a talent, it’s safe to assume I’m responsible to do something with it instead of burying it in the ground or hiding it under a bushel. Yes, most people “bushel their talent” because the responsibility of using it is so frightening that they would rather pretend they weren’t granted such agility. 

Because the second “r” is rejection. What happens if you share your talent and people tell you you’re not very good? What if you decide to live off your talent and the daily wage necessary to sustain life doesn’t come trickling in? Yes, responsibility and rejection often keep us from admitting we have the talent–and the lack of confessing our gift eliminates the possibility of expanding it and multiplying it, to foster new areas.

I had written gospel music; I had written plays. I had written a few books and I was working on a novel. Could I have the faith, with my little mustard seed, to believe that I could write music for oboe with a symphonic bend, that would allow this dear woman to continue her work in a craft that brought her joy, so that raising her children would be a pleasant experience instead of an adult burden?

The power of discovering your mustard seed of talent is that you no longer have to convince yourself that God has blessed you. The only challenge that remains is how far you can stretch that blessing before it breaks. 

I asked her if she wanted to work with me. That was fifteen years ago–two novels, seven books, fourteen CD’s, eleven symphonies and seventeen screenplays completed.

Once you free your spirit of the burden of unrequited emotions, your brain becomes thankful and a mind of gratitude develops the faith to use the mustard seed of talent, to launch out in trust with what you have and in the process, avenues appear for potential multiplication.

I do not know what I would have done that day if Janet Clazzy had shared her burden about her life and I had been emotionally bound up, unaware of what capacity was within me, distrustful of being grateful about my life, and had not already learned to plant my mustard seed into the ground to let it grow. But because I had gone through the “here you go,” the “here you got,” the “here you adopt” and the “here you adapt” phases,  by the grace of God, I was ready for “here you add.”

I sat down at a keyboard and started writing music that we will be sharing in front of a congregation even this very day.

Fresh things don’t happen if we allow our beliefs to become stale. Joy is not spawned from trepidation. And talent does not overtake us–but is taken over by our desire to believe that we can actually contribute something of quality to human life around us.

I am so glad she didn’t quit playing the oboe.  Aren’t you? I am so glad she learned how to conduct a symphony orchestra, and began one that reached tens of thousands of people in Tennessee. And I am so glad that she is sitting right here with me now, typing this document as my friend and co-producer of all sorts of new ideas.

If you want to have good spiritual and mental health, you need to stop being afraid of the responsibility and rejection that often accompany talent–because burying your talent in the ground only makes it invisible to the masses.

You still know it’s there.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!


Jonathan sings “Let”


Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”


Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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