MY MINISTER OF MUSIC
Today we got word that Don Martin had gone to be with Jesus after suffering a stroke just a couple of days ago. As most of you know I grew up a P.K., a Preacher’s Kid. One of the joys of being one of those was getting to know the staff members who served with Dad. Because Mom was always Church Organist and because all of us kids were pretty musical there was most always a special relationship with the Minister of Music. Each of these men had a strong influence on me, but one was particularly special. I am sure that a big part of the special relationship to this one had to do with the time and situations of my life during his years of serving alongside Dad, but certainly added to the timing was the personality and demeanor of Don Martin. He was a gentle man, kind at every turn. He had a great sense of humor and knew how to laugh at himself as well as with others. As our family spent time with his I got to see him parent. Better than I recall the humorous stories I remember the sounds of laughter that rang out through our house or theirs when we would be together and Don and Suzanne were telling of the escapades, especially of their twin sons, Mark and Mike. Their daughter, Mary (now Mary Roby) was and is a joy to be around with an infectious beautiful smile and fun spirit to go along with her phenomenal voice and talent.
I mentioned the timing in my life of Don’s service with Dad. You see, Don Martin was there when as a seventh grader my voice changed. He patiently escorted me to his office and vocalized me through breaks, explaining what was happening and assuring me it was normal. He moved me around in the youth choir so as to help me hear tenor and later baritone and bass. When Don was serving with Dad at Calvary in Jackson I had moved on, but as I was serving Liberty Grove in early college years Don was my natural go to for advice, counsel, and that calm reassuring voice of faith that always just made perfect sense. I admired him, loved him, and learned so much from him. Don had one of the purest tenor voices I have ever heard. He made it seem effortless, and hearing him sing with daughter Mary, my own dad, or even one time with me, was a special treat. It showed me how much he loved the truth of the message and the joy of singing itself. What a model for this Minister of Music to observe!
SOME THINGS I LEARNED FROM MY MINISTER OF MUSIC, DR DON MARTIN
- Patience is a must when teaching musical expression
- There is powerful dynamic available in the music itself when sung beautifully
- Laugh at yourself
- Inspire by faithful example
- Gentleness is a virtue
- People know when you care about them
- Giving time is a demonstration of love
- Do not be afraid to tell someone you sense a call on their life
- Support your pastor
- Express love to your family in private and public
- Making beautiful music is not about the show
- Humility is most powerful when genuine
These are not tidbits I heard Don Martin say. Rather these are just some of the patterns of his life that I observed him live out as minister, musician, family man, and friend. His passing saddens me for the loss, though 89 years lived well is sufficient to leave a powerful testimony and enormous legacy of youth choir “kids” and ministering musicians singing the Gospel of Christ in many places, but I rejoice with his family in the certainty of not only his whereabouts, but his present activity. It gladdens me beyond words to think about Don and Dad talking together again, laughing, singing a duet together, pointing together once again to the Christ, but this time literally glowing in the very Presence of the One Who is More Than You’ll Ever Know (except, of course, those of you who by grace through faith know Him, and you will one day join him).