A few weeks ago, I got to see a preview for a movie about the life of Rich Mullins, which led a few of us to reminisce about his life, music, and impact on our lives. He blew into my life the summer between middle school and high school with Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth, and his music became the soundtrack of my coming of age. Sure, we bought that album so we could have our own personal recording of “Awesome God.” But it was songs like “The Other Side of the World,” “If I Stand,” and “Ready for the Storm” that helped turn me into something of a theologian and a wannabe mystic and ragamuffin. That conversion never fully happened. I’m too immersed into the practical stuff of doing church to be a true theologian, I’m too Protestant to be a true mystic, and I’m too pleased with myself to be a true ragamuffin. But the music of Rich Mullins was a constant companion and agitator, comforting me when I need to be comforted and afflicting me where I needed to be changed.
Here are a few things I learned from Rich Mullins.
- Image is crap. Be yourself but keep working towards being the best version of yourself. Don’t play games. Don’t be who someone else wants you to be. Everyone else will try to make you into their image of you. Don’t conform to it. Conform only to Christ.
- Live on what you need; give the rest away. Rich never knew how much money he actually made. His accountant gave him a monthly stipend to live on and the rest was distributed among charities and causes he gave his life towards.
- Love the land you came from, but recognize there’s another world beyond your own. Those aren’t mutually exclusive ideas. In fact, the more you leave home, the more you can embrace a larger worldview. And the more you embrace a larger worldview, the more home fills your heart and becomes the most important place on earth.
- It’s okay to be Protestant and Catholic. Rich opened my eyes to the active faith of St. Francis, the beauty of the liturgy, and the fierce communion of monastic life. I realized I didn’t have to fully pick one stream or the other. I could be Baptist and still celebrate Lent. I could love Sunday School and saints.
- Relationships matter. In fact, the investments others make in us and the investments we make in others are the only things that really last. Whatever you do, do it with others. Rich’s ragamuffin band and Kid Brothers of St. Frank were probably early inspirations for my formation of The Gang and assembling of the Minions.