Why I Quit Music for Missions and What I Was Most Afraid Of
Nine years ago, I had what you might call an epiphany, and 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, in what is known in the industry as A&R (Artists & Repertoire) work.
Although I loved music, I had never studied music nor business, had no rhythm, was unable to carry a tune, and couldn’t play a single instrument. I felt an earnest appreciation to be part of a team that was pioneering careers for wildly talented artists.
My spiritual epiphany, to combine what we both might call it, was coming to 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 it all 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 if I exited the music industry, and I had no backup plan if everything should fall apart.
I was even more fearful, though, that if I didn’t follow my heart, I would forever live in regret of what could have, or would have been.
As I clambered for direction—any kind of confirmation that I hadn't gone spiritually insane—the Holy Spirit peacefully and unexpectedly gave me four simple, yet 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, feeling one part impassioned and three parts foolish.
I cashed out my 401(k), gold plaques, and the record collection, and I began living an adventure that has, albeit reluctantly, led me to every continent on the planet with Come&Live!, the 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 had I not left, in due course, I would have 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 give the whole thing another shot. As fathers, providing for our families is a huge responsibility that we can never ignore. Truth be told, I prayerfully contemplated my music industry dismissal for nearly three years before eventually putting in my notice.
Giving in to the temptation to avoid risk would have been safe, but I would only have 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.
So, 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 with us. 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 by frustration against a business I no longer felt passion for, rather than by a pure desire to see your Kingdom advanced anywhere and everywhere.
What risk has Jesus called you to take in life?
Did that risk result in (or is it resulting in) what you originally hoped it would?