Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



     In olden days, stories were told of the wandering stranger who came to help the villagers suffering through a terrible drought.  One might assume the wanderer would surely ride a fine black horse and be dressed like a king - complete with a booming baritone - but a theme that seems to run through each tale is the “helper” was never a flashy dresser at all, nor was he loud of voice. This somewhat odd fellow would quietly visit with local villagers and patiently explain his purpose.  “If the people of your village will believe,” he would say, “…the rain will come.”  I’ve been thinking about him lately.  He’s been on my mind.  I’ve met some you know.  Rainmakers, I mean.  I’ve met some.
     This summer, I’ll be traveling to Kentucky five times to address an FFA Youth Leadership Camp.  The camp, located in Hardinsburg, is dedicated to providing a program of instruction to students desiring to learn about the science, business, and technology of agriculture.  The center has been there for many years operating under the capable leadership of Dr. Pete Dreisbach, the son of a West African missionary.  How Dr. Pete ended up in Kentucky from Africa is a long story – and a good one – but for now let’s just say those students are blessed to have him.  He loves those kids and wants them to do well.  Dr. Pete is a rainmaker.
     Each class has about 350 students who stay at the facility for a week, then a new group comes each successive week throughout the summer When I asked Dr. Pete what he wanted me to say to the students, he said, “Tell them something important.  Help them learn to help themselves!”  I’ve really been thinking about that too.
     Let me confess something here.  Dr. Pete’s request made me nervous.  That is a rare thing for me…to be nervous, I mean.  I’ve been performing across America and Canada for almost twenty years, and I simply cannot remember the last time I felt nervous.  I’ve been in every dive from Chunky, Mississippi to Great Falls, Montana, and if you asked me, “Do you ever get nervous?” I would laugh out loud.  I love what I do.  I’m one of those blessed people who loves his work.  I don’t get nervous; I get exhilarated.  But when someone asks me to speak to young people, I get stressed.  Why?  Because of what Dr. Pete said.  He said, “Tell them something important!” 
     So we’ve had the date set for months and now the time is here…and I know what I plan to tell those young people.  I’ll tell them who and what helped me in my life.  I was the worst of the worse.  Made so many F’s, it was just amazing.  Nobody could be that stupid, but I was.  Then everything changed.  A miracle occurred because of caring adults in education – and in my case, adults in agriculture as well – those caring adults taught me the secrets of life.  And here they are…
They said, “Show up every day.”
“Sit on the front.”
“Write down everything the professor says.”
“Take those notes home and read them for one hour.”
“There are no mountains you can’t climb - they are only stones in your path.”
“Learn how to shake hands and meet people.”
“You don’t have to be the best one there to win.”
“When you fail, get up.  Try again.”
“You are stronger than you think.  More than you know.” 

     That’s it.  That’s what was important for me.  Doesn’t sound like much, but the fact those people cared about me and encouraged me…well, it saved my life – a life that has overflowed with rainmakers.  Good souls who believed in me before I believed in myself.  I encourage you to be one.  God knows the world needs them.  I want to be one too.
     So the performer at this year’s Kentucky FFA Leadership Camp won’t be dressed like a king, won’t be riding a fine black horse, and no booming baritone.  Just an old fellow getting a little long in the tooth with a simple message taught to him by others long ago…
“Get your head up.  You can’t do nothing with mope on your face.”
“God did not shortchange you.”
“If you believe…the rain will come.” 

n  Michael Johnson

“Life is too precious to be upset.”

                              David Hartwig – Faithful companion of Skidboot - 1992-2007

 Ed. Note – Michael will be appearing in Hardinsburg, Kentucky on June 16, 23, 30, and July 7, 14.

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