Tell us a little bit of how you became a worship leader/pastor?
I have always loved music! I began playing the guitar at age 7 and added a few more instruments by the time I was a teenager. When I was 14, my student pastor had a friend of his come in and put together a band for our student ministry. He asked me if I wanted to play bass and, like any good 14 year old when asked to play in a band, I readily agreed. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much God would use the 3 other guys in the band to shape me spiritually and musically. Five years later I felt God calling me to be a worship pastor and led me to begin a worship internship. Being a worship pastor wasn’t something I grew up thinking about and never really made plans to pursue, but then again, following Jesus has very rarely gotten me to the place that I thought I should be. God has been so faithful to show me what the next step is and, even though it can be difficult at times, each one has led me to where I am. Each day is an adventure and another opportunity to learn something new!
How would someone describe your style/approach to leading worship?
I would hope that authentic, diligent, and adaptable would be a few words that could describe how I lead. We are intentional with the way we prepare and plan our gatherings to lead people into a deeper relationship with Jesus and to preach the gospel to those far from God. Everything we do is centered on Jesus, saturated with scripture, and reliant upon the Holy Spirit. I want to honor the Lord in all things and being diligent in preparation is crucial! God is constant and leads me even when I’m not on stage. Being authentic is also important. God has shown me that if the way I lead isn’t true to who I am then I am discipling a congregation to be fake! When I do this I’ve found that I’m placing the fear of man above fearing God, and that never ends well. Though preparing and leading from an authentic place is important, I’m not a robot. Without being tender-hearted to what God is doing and willing to adjust what I think needs to be done in the moment, I’ll end up leading songs instead of leading people. There’s a difference between showing up and being present. It’s easy to show up and be there physically, but be totally disconnected and in another world worrying about transitions, chord structures, tracks, production, among other things. The ability to be present in a space is something that I miss probably more times than I’d like to admit, but has been crucial in how I lead!
What are some of your most challenging parts of being in ministry?
If I’m being honest, the most challenging part of being in ministry is usually me. There are a lot of moving parts to leading a worship ministry and, if I’m not careful, I’ll want to control instead of lead. Developing leaders and empowering people to make decisions is something that helps mitigate the selfishness of me wanting to oversee every detail. I desire our ministry to be dependent on God to lead and if I’m not raising people up to do the things I do, then I end up creating a ministry dependent on me (that’s no good). God is gracious to me and this is something that I’m still learning how to do!
What are some theological issues/topics/current conversations that you're passionate about?
Spiritual disciplines are something that I come back to time and time again. For me, spiritual disciplines generally have a negative connotation. I’ve been too worried about approval in the past and spiritual disciplines were a way that I would define what a “successful” relationship with Jesus looked like. This allowed a lot of guilt and shame to build up that I didn’t know how to handle. The Holy Spirit shattered my idea of what spiritual disciplines were and really began to transform my life. Dallas Willard defines spiritual disciplines as “activities that are in our power and that enable us to do what we cannot do by direct effort” (Renovation of the Heart, p.113). Spiritual disciplines create boundaries that protect and facilitate growth!
I’m passionate about this because I’ve been impacted personally, but I’ve also encountered a significant amount of people who haphazardly follow Jesus, never experience life or growth, and then fall prey to doubt and/or guilt. My friend Joe summed it up with something like: “I don’t want to be like a shotgun, scattered and hoping I hit something. I want to be like a rifle, focused and intentional”.
What are some of your most rewarding parts of being in ministry?
Seeing people move from death to life is the best part! I think another would be seeing people begin to hear from God and take their next step into something greater. It’s awesome to see principals become pastors and physical therapists become worship pastors. Seeing the Kingdom of God here and now is breathtaking.
What are the last five books you read?
Who are your heroes? Why are they your heroes?
There are a lot of people throughout my life that I would categorize as heroes:
- My wife is a hero for the way she loves and gracefully leads our family with me.
- My parents for how generous they are with their time, love, and the way that they raised me to love Jesus.
- All the men and women I have the privilege of doing ministry with at all of our campuses at Connection are heroic. Their heart beats for Jesus, seeing the Kingdom here and now, and not just connecting all peoples to Jesus, but connecting them to a growing relationship with Jesus! On top of that, they are all incredibly gifted at what they do and I learn so much from who they are and what they do.
- I don’t mean this as flattery, but everyone at 10,000 Fathers is heroic to me! The way they champion the gospel and their passion to raise fathers and mothers of worship are not just inspirational, it is transformational and contagious.
When was the last time God surprised you?
The more I slow down and really begin to notice what God is doing, the more surprised I am. This manifests itself in many ways. I know recently my wife and I had a financial need that we weren’t sure how we were going to meet that was beginning to cause stress. We prayed about it and literally within 48 hours a check was in the mail for what we needed. God has surprised me multiple times in the small group that my wife and I lead. Whether it’s someone who needs a job or someone who is sick God always provides!
How does grace find it's way into your daily life? How does it inform your leadership?
Being a dad, grace permeates pretty much everything. Whether it’s within thankfulness of my children’s joyful smiles, the tears of discipline, or my imperfections, God’s grace abounds. I think that the moment I forget how to receive the grace that God is giving, I won’t be able to extend it to other people. I think that this is crippling for a leader. Grace-less leadership isn’t dependent on anyone but man and that historically hasn’t worked out. Graceful leadership understands how much God has given and extends that to the people they lead.
What advice would you give to a brand-new worship leader?
Find people that you can be honest with and experience community. Don’t take yourself too serious. Read. Don’t fill your head with so much knowledge that you forget to love. Develop relationships with older worship leaders and be willing to learn. Pursue your craft; get better for God’s glory, not for the sake of being great. Don’t ever stop looking for people that you can disciple to replace you. Your family is more important than your job. You aren’t defined by what you can do, only by who God says you are. Pray. A lot. Let the Holy Spirit lead you!
What is one piece of musical equipment you can't live without?
Definitely my guitar; I feel naked without it.
What was your most prominent take away from 10,000 Fathers?
This is a difficult one because there are so many that I could pick from. The most prominent take away would probably be the identity session from track 1. Identifying where the lies that the enemy has used (and maybe still is using) to keep people from stepping into the wholeness and freedom that Jesus offers. I was at a point in my life that I didn’t really recognize or even know who I was because of how much I felt like I had to pretend so I could receive the approval of others. Having people intentionally invite and challenge you to be honest about the lies you have come to believe and listen to the truth that God speaks is transformational. Being in community with leaders and peers over the course of 18 months helped solidify the truth that God was speaking. The importance of placing my identity in Jesus and learning self awareness has been foundational to lasting fruit in my life.
I would be mistaken if I didn’t mention anything about songwriting! We were given the right tools to write songs by the best teachers. I never thought I would ever be able to write music or have a desire to. 10,000 Fathers not only equipped me to write music, but also opened my eyes to see the importance and impact of good songwriting. I receive blessing upon blessing seeing how God uses the songs we write in people’s lives and hearing them sing those songs. I’m grateful for the space that they have created for people to grow!
If Jesus played an instrument, which one would He play and why?
Jesus would probably play a folk instrument if I had to guess. With all the walking around and wilderness time he would’ve definitely played a guitar or banjo. It would have been the ultimate campfire sing along!