Why I Quit Music for Missions and What I was Most Afraid of.
Nine years ago I had what you might call an epiphany, what I would consider a spiritual awakening. Back then I was positioned in a thriving music career where I was responsible for finding, signing and developing bands, what is known in the industry as A&R (Artists & Repertoire) work. Even though I loved music, I never studied music or business, have no rhythm, am unable to carry a tune, and can’t play a single instrument. I felt an earnest appreciation to be apart of a team that was pioneering careers for wildly talented artists.
My spiritual epiphany, to combine what we both could call it, was the awareness that being a privileged music guy wasn’t the path meant for my life.
The problem was, I couldn’t stop dreaming of something different.
Still, I was afraid that leaving would result in career suicide. I had a young family depending entirely on my income. I didn’t have total clarity as to what I would do once I exited the music industry, and had no back-up plan for when everything fell apart.
I was even more fearful, though, that if I didn’t follow my heart, I would forever regret the unknown of what could, or would, have been.
As I clambered for direction, any kind of confirmation that I hadn't just gone spiritually insane, the Holy Spirit peacefully and unexpectedly gave me four simple, bold instructions:
1. Make your life all about Jesus
2. Stop worrying about money
3. Equip artists and others
4. Give yourself away
My true calling came at the peak of music industry success—an unexpected, undeserved twelve year career generously affixing my name to an album or two. With my wife’s nervous blessing, I abruptly left the conventional music world, one part impassioned and three parts foolish.
I cashed out my 401(k), gold plaques, the record collection, and began living an adventure that has led me, reluctantly, to every continent on the planet with Come&Live!, a nonprofit community several friends and I started in response to those four instructions I had sensed the Spirit prompting me with.
Not following Jesus, my heart, or what Jesus was saying to my heart, would have been the safest option available to me. No one was asking me, much less telling me, to leave the music business. Years later, I’m fairly sure that I would have in due course failed because my heart had lost all the passion it once had for the business of music.
It’s hard to stay alive very long without passion.
Maybe I could have tried harder to re-engage, or to have given the whole thing another shot. As fathers, providing for our families is a huge responsibility that we can’t ever ignore. Truth be told, I prayerfully contemplated my music industry dismissal for nearly three years before eventually putting in my notice.
The temptation to avoid risk would have been safe, but I would have only been a parading facade. Ultimately, I would have missed a life layered with thousands of risks.
Whatever risk God has you taking (or is calling you into) will likely require far more courage than you currently possess. I wish I could promise you that it would all be easy, but that would be false advertising.
I encourage you with what has encouraged me:
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." - Philippians 1:6
Jesus, remind me, remind us, right here and now, that You are far from finished. You are faithful. I admit that much of my journey away from the music industry has looked drastically different than I anticipated. Some of my original motivation to quit music was fueled frustration against a business I no longer felt passion for and not a pure desire to see your kingdom advanced anywhere and everywhere.
If Jesus can move through me, He can flow through you.
P.S. Let me know if you can guess the artist in the above photo.