Somewhere along life’s journey, and probably more than once, I’ve heard people talk about the power one person can have to influence many, many other lives just by the way that one person lives their life. Recently, songs like “Live Like You Were Dying” or sayings like, “Live each day as if it were your last,” have become almost cliché. Sure, the message and meaning is noteworthy and should be heeded, but I wonder if any of us really know anyone who has lived that way. I know I certainly don’t. Do any of us know of one person who has literally touched the lives of thousands by living their one solitary life in such a way that it has changed the path of many? Or perhaps in some small way, altered history?
Is there anyone you can think of whose life would be called a legacy?
I can, and his name, Aubrey Edwards.
This week, as a friend of mine put it, we experienced the passing of an era. Aubrey Edwards, long-time Minister Of Music, husband, father, friend and mentor to SO many, went home to be with our Lord. Who was Aubrey Edwards? Well, if you didn’t know him, it would be hard to tell you everything about him. Not that I know everything about him, but what I do know, I want to share with you. I also want to pass along some thoughts and conversations I’ve had about Aubrey in recent days.
The night before Aubrey’s Celebration Service at Shades Mountain Baptist in Birmingham, I was sitting in the lobby of our hotel talking with a good friend of mine from here in Asheville. He was a part of one of Aubrey’s many youth choirs he had during his ministry years, his name is Ron. Ron and I started throwing out all the things we could think of that came to mind when we thought of Aubrey, and here is our Top 10 List, of sorts.
1. Aubrey had the knack to see in people abilities they never knew they had. To me, it was a spiritual gift, to know what God had placed in that person and what they could accomplish for Him before they ever discovered it.
2. Then, after he had seen that person’s ability, he could draw it out of them like nobody else I’ve ever seen.
3. Aubrey would then place that person in a position of using that newly “discovered” ability or talent, and help them succeed!
4. He, Aubrey, would also champion that person. Letting them step up and lead out, never seeking to take any of the credit for himself.
5. Aubrey was never threatened by the success or talent of those he surrounded himself with, either in ministry or life. He was secure in who he was in Christ and knew that it wasn’t a competition. Instead, if you were strong, you made him stronger and he knew it and cherished it! (More on this later)
6. It’s been said Aubrey had a gift for putting together productions, and that is so true, but the root goes deeper. He had a desire to do everything big, and do it well, because he knew the God he was serving was big and deserved our finest and our best! His goal was always excellence and he settled for nothing less, both personally and corporately.
7. Aubrey’s work ethic was unparalleled and uncompromising. You would never hear him ask someone to do something that he wasn’t willing to do, or already doing, himself!
8. Aubrey was a visionary. Just one example was in his work with student choir ministry. He was using instruments, audio gear, lighting and other components LONG before anyone. And not only using them, but using them extremely effectively to draw in young people and minister to the lost.
9. You never heard Aubrey complain or saw him lose his cool, if he did, he never showed it and when he did need to correct you or challenge you, he did it privately and most importantly, Biblically.
10. Aubrey always took care of those who served with him, and I’m not just talking about financially. He would guard your time, he was concerned about your workload, he never expected more out of you than he asked of himself, and if he was ever going to get something to eat or drink, you can bet he would insist on you come along!
11. I know I said Top 10 but I thought of one more, Aubrey would include you and make you feel a part of everything he did. If he was running to the store, you were going with him. If he was planning a music event, you were asked your opinion, and not just to stroke his ego but he REALLY wanted your opinion. Aubrey Edwards knew the meaning of team!
It was said by one of ministers at his Celebration Service that Aubrey loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all his heart, loved the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and loved his family. I want to add one more, Aubrey Edwards loved people. All races, all shapes and sizes, Christian non-Christian, and the list goes on. Most ministers I know have no trouble loving God. Most have no trouble loving and spending time with their family. But I think where a lot of ministers today fall apart is in knowing how to truly love people. That statement will probably offend some of you but I hope it will do just the opposite and inspire you to learn how to love people.
Learning to love people also includes loving those you serve with. I’ve seen too many ministers who get jealous of those who might be more talented than them in whatever area they serve in, have ministry “successes” they don’t, or feel threatened by them for whatever reason. Maybe it’s insecurity or jealousy, I don’t know, but take a lesson from Aubrey Edwards, and learn to love people! He knew that the bottom line was accomplishing the work of God’s Kingdom and that it takes everybody with every kind of talent, gift and ability!
I’ve seen Aubrey be the same person in life with royalty and fame as he is with a little innocent child, or homeless person. He was NO respecter of persons but did respect every person for who they are in Christ.
Aubrey didn’t think twice about inviting a non-Believer or a non-Christian to be a part of his ministry. He knew the power of the Gospel and he knew once that person experienced Christ’s love they would be drawn in and their life would be forever changed. He didn’t think you had to get your act together and then you could come and be a part, you could just come. Sound familiar? Have we thrown that type of mentality out the door in our churches today? Is that kind of ministry model going to pass by the wayside with Aubrey’s departure from this earth? I think we have it backwards in so many of our churches. I could tell you story after story of lives I saw changed in that exact way through the 10 years I served alongside Aubrey Edwards and it still impacts me to this day.
All of this is not to spotlight the man Aubrey Edwards but the life of Aubrey Edwards, and how he chose to live the one solitary life he was given by his Creator. If we let Aubrey’s legacy fade and not learn from it we will be poorer. As ministers, there aren’t too many left in churches today that embody the things that made Aubrey the leader and mentor he was. Let’s learn from him and from how God is still using this incredible man’s legacy today.
May the one solitary life we’ve been given be lived in the light of this one man’s life and legacy.