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“If we are not brave, we will never grow”

Luthier Manuel Rodríguez III tells how his guitars open doors to many influential artists. And how he was able to stand up again after a crisis in which he came close to losing everything.

FUENTES Protestante Digital AUTOR 16/Daniel_Hofkamp,5/Evangelical_Focus VALENCIA 21 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2023 10:04 h
Manuel Rodríguez, luthier and ambassador of the MR Guitarras brand.

Manuel Rodríguez travels the world with the Spanish classical guitar as his trademark.



As a third generation luthier and the visible face of the brand that bears his name (and that of his father and grandfather), Rodríguez shares a great passion for music and for bringing a message of hope tied to it.



MR guitars have become a reference in the world of music. This unique instrument, full of history and present, has opened doors for him in all kinds of environments.



Manuel sees the guitar as a way of life marked by passion, love of music and the courage to stand up when everything seems lost.



During the last Spanish Christian business leaders meeting, news website Protestante Digital spoke with Rodríguez about stories that make his life and business.





Question. How would you define your work?



Answer. I am a humble guitar player, neither Spanish nor Latin American, but a citizen of the world. My life has been shaped by experiences, some of them very hard, but also beautiful, which have allowed me to move forward in a way I could never have imagined.



I carry the gospel with the Spanish guitar around the world. This instrument has allowed me to be with authorities, with the King of Spain. I have given over 40 guitars to heads of state.



These guitars are made with much love, in which I always include the figure of the Christian fish, so when they ask me about it, I explain that it has to do with my faith.



This work has allowed me to be with the best musicians in the world. MR has over a hundred years of experience. There are many Christian musicians, such as Carlos Santana, especially in the United States.



We make synergies together to share the Word of God. And in my life, I show that you can fall, but you can stand up and keep going.





[photo_footer]  Manuel Rodríguez with one of his guitars.[/photo_footer] 


Q. You have gone through deep crises in the company. What happened, and how did you overcome the difficulty?



A. A few years ago my factory collapsed, and this led me to rethink the way I work.



Here in Spain it's all craftsmanship. We are about ten luthiers, who make guitars that ost over 1,000 euros each. In Romania, we have a factory near Transylvania. I made an agreement with a big German music company that has allowed me to do it on a larger scale.



Now, I am mainly an ambassador for the brand, telling my testimony. I also take the brand Spain around the world, with this product that is so typical of our country and our culture.



This factory in Romania was on the verge of collapse, and by getting the guitars manufactured there, we have also been able to save the workplace of 250 people. Now we are hiring Ukrainian women, so that they can support their families in the very complicated situation they are living in because of the war.



 



Q. How do you see yourself in that world of musicians, actors, heads of state... all this people with such an influence?



A. I am a very extroverted person, but I always try to be very humble. I'm not a politician, I'm more of the party of common sense, so I'm a very natural person.



Famous musicians, or prominent people, are also like that. For example, I have been with someone like Carlos Slim, and I simply gave him the guitar as a nice gift, which lasts a lifetime, because music is something that accompanies us forever.



Without music, we are not human beings, I always encourage every relevant person I can be with to support music in their countries. Music is humanity and peace. They appreciate such a simple approach.





[photo_footer]Manuel Rodríguez with singers David Bisbal and Carlos Santana. Many artists use his guitars.[/photo_footer] 



 



Q. In times of severe crisis in your life, what helped you to hold on?



A. Faith has been key. If I didn't have faith, I would be in a mental hospital taking pills. My psychologist was Jesus and, of course, there were of course people who helped me in the times of crisis.



The amazing thing is that as leaders, we have to experience falling and the suffering. If we don't suffer, we don't value what we have.



In 118 years, the company of my family has lived through two bankruptcies, two World Wars, a pandemic. And it's fine, we will have time to rest in heaven. We are here to suffer, to work, and to bring the gospel to the people.



As long as God gives us the strength, perspective and vision to find our purpose, we have to be willing.



In my case, within 24 hours I was unemployed, without a company, and broke. My immediate reaction was to ask: "Lord, why have you done this to me? What is this for?" Now, I can say that He put me in a much better place than I was before.



If I had continued with the factory in Spain, I think it would have consumed me with difficulties. Now, however, I'm enjoying it: I'm an ambassador for the brand, I can focus on the design of the guitars, be with musicians from all over the world, with people, and carry the gospel.



If I had the burden of a factory with a hundred people, I would be stressed. But now the factory is in Romania, it's run by Germans, and I will be an ambassador for the brand until I die.



For forty years, I was under pressure; now I am starting to enjoy life. God has set me free.





[photo_footer]Working in the guitar-making studio.[/photo_footer] 



 



Q. Is it also necessary to know how to manage successful moments?



A. That's a good question, because as humans we have ego, pride... We must be careful not to fall into believing that we are better. It is necessary to remain humble, be alert and always look for Jesus because we are human and we contaminate ourselves.



I went to Fiji to set up a ukulele factory and because of a mosquito bite I caught dengue fever, I almost died. But I went through the experience and came back to life. When you are close to death and you get out, you are grateful for that new chance at life.



I am 60 and there is nothing left but to be gladiators to bring the Word of God. I always encourage others not to be afraid, that when we fall, with faith, we can get up and go on.





Q. Do you think it is necessary to find people in the business world who share this Christian faith and can support each other?



A. Of course. These conferences are a blessing. I would like to have 500 business people next year at the Christian Business Leaders meeting. Because this needs to be spread.



In the evangelical church we are often closed, we don't make ourselves known... But it is very important that we share our experiences together, because we come out stronger. Not only in spiritual growth, but also in self-confidence.





[photo_footer]An MR stand at an international guitar fair in Germany.[/photo_footer] 



 



Q. There are people in the music world who are sometimes afraid or reticent, considering that it can be a complicated environment to live their faith. What do you think?



A. If we are not brave, we will never grow. Fear is of the devil, and if we don't overcome it, we won't grow.



We have to get rid of prejudices about the world we live in. We are in an impressive world: every democratic country is because of the influence of Christianity.



I took a truck with 500 guitars and went all over Europe to sell them, not knowing if I could make it. The "no" is already there, but if you don't knock on the door, you won't find the "yes". So go for it! Look for the yes, that's the way to find it.



That perspective is what has helped me to move forward. Even though I've found a lot of nos, a little yes has opened doors for me. But you have to look for it.



 



Q. What projects do you have in mind for the future?



A. Being in this new way of life that God has allowed me to live, I have exciting opportunities.



I am involved in the Latin Grammy Awards which, for the first time, will be held in the Spanish city of Seville, and I will give guitars to the award winners. Of course, I will carry the message. God uses me there.



I have been with Spanish actor Antonio Banderas in his charity concerts Starlight for about 12 years now. Another project I have is to promote sustainable production, so that with every guitar, we give seeds to plant trees.



Another thing I have been doing for years with the Jimmy Carter Foundation is to give away guitars signed by famous musicians, so that they can be auctioned and this can be used to help NGOs.



I have also developed a project with the mayor of Los Angeles where we auction guitars to help homeless people. And I want to do it also here in Spain, with other organisations that might need it. This is my way of helping, and I want to spread it among NGOs and Christian companies.



This article was produced for the Líderes Empresariales section of Protestante Digital, an initiative of the Gospel, Economy and Business (Tres-E) group in Spain.



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