by Pettus Read
Having worked with the public some thirty-five plus years, I have come in contact with a lot of interesting people, as well as a few who have been just the opposite. They have come from all walks of life and not a single one, would I say, I completely regret having made their acquaintance. However, there have been a few who have really tested my patience along with my ability to understand human nature.
I have found if you will just listen to people, you can learn a whole lot about this planet we call home, as well as increase your knowledge about life in general. One group of folks who has made a difference in my life are the many gospel preachers who I have had the privilege to come into contact with. In more ways than one, they have educated me, entertained me, opened my eyes and even at times challenged my thinking to a point of causing me to look a little further into what makes us all tick.
One such preacher is Tom Holland whom I have grown to appreciate more
each time I hear him speak. He is a masterful preacher, song leader and writer. In fact, I have even heard him use a story or two of mine at
times in presentations which I consider a down right honor.
So, since he has used one of my stories before, I thought I would use one of his here to make it an even swap. I'm sure he won't mind, I hope!
In his book entitled, "Appropriate Songs Sung At Inappropriate
Times," he tells the story that demonstrates timing in song leading. Here is his story:
"J. A. Thornton, who now lives in Henderson, Tennessee, said that years ago Ross Spears, a noted song leader, was leading singing in a gospel meeting near Newbern, Tennessee. Electric lights had been put in the church building over the protest of one old brother who argued that "the things might go out, then what will you do?"
He was insistent that they use the oil lamps. But the folks wanting electricity prevailed. So as a type of compromise they kept one of the old lamps "for emergencies."
The old brother took the lamp as his own project. He shined the brass base and he kept the lamp globe (chimney) very clean and clear. In the mind of this old brother, this was "his lamp" and soon the brethren so recognized it as "his lamp."
One night during the meeting, brother Ross Spears was leading the old
song, "Let The Lower Lights Be Burning." When the audience was completing the first stanza, an electrical storm knocked out the lights.
Spears knew that the audience knew the song by memory, so he began
singing the second stanza, which says, "Dark the night of sin has settled," (and it was pitch dark in the auditorium). When they had nearly finished the second stanza, the old "lamp brother" thought it was time to take action, so he got up, struck a match, and started toward his lamp as Spears began leading the third stanza which begins, "Trim your feeble lamp my brother…."
Ross Spears demonstrated that timing in song leading is very important to the effectiveness of a song!"
Just as in this story written in his book by my good friend Tom Holland, timing is important in a lot of the things that we do. The wrong action taken at the wrong time has often been the down fall of many good men, as well as projects.
Right now in Washington, D.C., the state of Tennessee, and in just about every country store in all of our 95 counties, there is a debate going on concerning immigration. Some people think we need to act right
away, others think we need to take our time and there are many who are totally undecided on what we should do.
One thing we do know at the farm gate is that farm labor is becoming
harder to find. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its quarterly farm labor report on May 19, 2006. They reported the number of hired farm workers decreased 3.75 percent to an all time low of 718,000 workers nationwide. In the Tennessee region the figure was even higher at 9 percent. Even after adjusting for seasonality, this represents an acceleration of a declining trend dating back to before 2001. The fact that wages increased sharply over the same period indicates that the drop in worker numbers was due to a tight labor supply, rather than any decrease in demand for farm labor. Farm operators have had to pay more to retain a shrinking hired work force. The April wages quoted in the May NASS report put the national average at an all time high of $9.79 per hour - up almost 5 percent from the year before and up 18 percent from 2001.
Immigration laws need to be strengthened, which we all agree, but we also need a strong labor force to get the job done. It's time to "trim your feeble lamp my brother" and make some decisions final up in D.C.
Timing is everything.