Reflections on my reflection.

August 2, 2013

A few years ago a friend gave me the book, Clapton’s Guitar.  I am re-reading it right now and today came across an interesting anecdote.   The author posed the following conversation with a real guitar “expert.”

“I steered the conversation toward the Big Question.  What is it that separates a magical guitar from a merely great one?…

“I think…” said T.J.,’s a combination of, I guess, about six hundred things…It’s an amalgam.”

“What would be number 1?…”

“Number 1 is the state of mind of the person  building the guitar.”

When people ask me how to build a better guitar, I always think, and sometimes say, ‘Be a better person.’  You can’t keep your personality out of the work…”

You need to be a good man to build a good guitar.*

I don’t know about you, but this got me thinking.  How many of us have a profession, a job, or even a hobby that is defined more by our personalities than by the job description?  

All of us.

In every profession I can think of there are wonderful people and not so wonderful people.  How you get treated is much more a reflection of the personality of the person than the policies of the profession.  

Right off the bat, I remember the friendly, helpful garbage man that picked up our trash can when I was a small child.  He would pick it up from the back yard, and take the empty can back to the back yard after he had emptied it into his truck,  

I can think of cops and dentists, preachers and postmen who, despite, not because of their profession were always friendly, helpful, kind, caring.  They were the embodiment of Colossians 3:12,  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Also, I have known people who should have it all together.  I would seem that people in the caring professions should have something positive reflected in their attitudes towards others and the way they did their work.  And yet….

We probably have all know people in the caring professions who care more about themselves than they do about those under their care, and it shows, every time.

The gospel of Mark explains this.  “Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 

After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.   “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?  For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”  Mark 7: 14-22 NIV

Jesus was saying that our hearts will betray us every time, our character leaks.  If you want to become better at anything start by being a better person.

A meticulously precise bricklayer may not be a wonderful person, but his work is a reflection of who he is as a person.  If he cares about how a brick looks, he will probably care about other, more important things as well.   A tunesmith, or wordsmith or a blacksmith will reveal their character, in or through their work.

More important, for me at least, is the fact that I will never be a better guitarist, bricklayer or pastor than I am a person.  

If I make the personal decision to be more Christ-like, it will be reflected in everything I do.  It will be reflected who I am.  Maybe this gives color to the phrase that we are human beings, not human doings.


If you want to be better at anything, start by being a better person.


Seems like a good place to start.

What do you think?


Have you been inspired or encouraged?  It would encourage me if you shared this post with those whom you influence.

*Clapton’s Guitar, Allen St. John, 2005, Free Press, Page 22,


One Response to “Reflections on my reflection.”

  1. I guess our character leaks out in the work of our hands and our creativity as well as what we say and do. Hmmm.

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