Merlyn Yoder: Being an Example

Indiana Amish church member Merlyn Yoder, who previously wrote on the Ausbund and singing for church ministers, returns today with a little food for thought.

Merlyn’s piece gave me something to think about, at least. As you go through your daily grind, you never know when an impressionable someone may be watching.

While going through life we all have role models. We have our various heroes that we admire for this reason or that reason. Not very long into our journey of life we probably become an example to someone else whether we like it or not. What kind of example am I?

As a boy I never paid too much attention to the tunes of our Ausbund. I heard them but did not try to learn them. We had music class in the public school I went to. This class did not get graded and my interest was sporadic and occasional. I was self-conscious of my voice and the back row was welcome to me.

Upon deciding to join church I also tried to participate more in singing. My girlfriend (future wife) came from a singing family and that put me on the spot. After marriage we moved into the second house at my parents’ for several years. Now we live halfway between both of our parents, yet we remain in my home district.

Buggy in Snowstorm

Part of our decision to not move far away were my heroes. The two Vorsingers [song leaders] from my boyhood were still on the job. They were older, seasoned, and just seemed to know everything about which tunes were appropriate with which song. There were also several men a few years older than I. These often went to our biweekly practice singing. They seemed to enjoy themselves and I wanted to belong.

Time went on and the two Vorsingers retired (currently one is in a wheelchair after a stroke. The other is still very active at 79 with 50 calves, gardening and farm repairs in his shop). The next generation was tapped and my father (another hero!) is now head Vorsinger. He has a partner and there are two others that will fill in if necessary.

Now I am no longer the youngest. There are others that come to the practice sessions. It is pleasant to see that they are willing learners and also very capable. One would imagine these young guys have the same heroes as I do, but what if I am also looked up to?

I hope to just do my part in the continuation of our traditions. I am among the generation that holds these traditions in their hands. Some of our traditions existed long before my time and will continue long after I’m gone if time goes on.

I imagine I am just one example of many more similar scenarios in our community. I suspect that most of us are only vaguely aware of the importance of our role. May future generations enjoy what we have today.


Merlyn, his wife, and six children live in northern Indiana. He has a job in the RV industry and his hobbies include woodworking, working on engines, beekeeping, orcharding, and history – especially the study of the Ausbund.

Image: ShipshewanaIndiana

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    6 Comments

    1. Gary Fingerle

      I grew up in northern Indiana and love getting these post ! Keep up the good work .

    2. Forest in North Carolina

      Thank you for your insight. Children listen to what we say, but they learn more by what they see us adults do.
      Or, as Francis of Assisi is supposed to have said, “Preach the Gospel daily. Use words if you have to…”
      It is always an unsettling thought that my daughter is looking to me for an example of how a Christian actually lives.

    3. Naomi Wilson

      Thank you for this sobering message.

    4. Sara

      An Example

      This reminded me of the first time my mom told me, as a child, that I was an example for my younger brother, that he looked up to me. I was shocked! It had never crossed my mind. I look back now and wonder and hope I was a good or at least decent example for him. The topic of being examples for others unknowing reminded me of this.

    5. I enjoyed your post so very much. Thank you, Merlyn.

      My children’s father was the son of a preacher, but he walked away from the spiritual fold. I used to tell him to be careful of what he did within our children’s sight, that they learned more from what he did, than what he said.

      Fast forward many many years and indeed they see him in a light that he doesnt wish to be painted with, but that he used the very brushstrokes to be colored with. Its quite sad.

      I used to watch people when i was a small child.. I was taught Christian values and mores.. I remember seeing attributes of people and thinking “I will” or “I wont act like that when I grow up” and I have stuck to them. Its amazing how observant small children are..

      Indeed.. Be the best you can be.. Thats all that really matters.

    6. Annie

      Merlyn, I enjoy your posts very much. Thank you.