“I’ll pray a hedge of protection around you because I’m pretty sure you’re on a slippery slope. I might go as far as loving on you through this season. Just sayin’.” – Jon Acuff
So many times, especially as songwriters that write for church or other religious reasons, we tend to write Christiany things. Yes, it’s a word. Ok, no it’s not, but you know what I mean.
Christianese. Words that sounds good to Christians because they know them and are comfy with them with our church friends or driving in the car praise-driving. But are these the only things to write about? Does writing more Christianish songs really get the true job out of reaching people for Christ?
Is this why God made you? To write more of what is already written? Another nice ditty that sounds like every other hymn, worship tune, or Christian song you’ve ever heard before?
“Why do we turn to empty, tired out phrases instead? Why do we have to have an answer or a formula? As followers of Christ, if we truly want to connect with people, we must be genuine and express ourselves with authenticity.” – Mary Fairchild
Speak from Experience
“You can’t be mad at your past, it makes you who you are.” – Jess, New Girl
I think the thing writers miss most at first, is writing from the powerful pages of their personal life story.
I tell all the beginning songwriters I meet (and artists too) that there is a reason for the life they have had. God has a Plan that cannot be seen by our puny minds. We can’t know why we endured all the heartache, pain, humiliation, anger, sadness, and yes, also love and happiness in our lives.
But as songwriters, we have a unique chance to mine that sometimes painful, sometimes thorny past, and turn it into some great songs.
Dealt with major awful things like abuse, divorce, or death? Use it. Write about it. Tell your story and let others know you have been there.
“The most effective way to let other people know about the great things that God can do in their lives is to tell them the story of what God has done in your life. That is what makes a difference.” – Rick Warren
Is it hard? Well yes, of course! Deciding to turn your private life into a ministry is not easy for everyone.
Even if you have had it fairly easy compared to most, there are still situations you’ve been through where you’ve seen God work. Or more importantly, there are things that you have learned the somewhat hard way (probably because of stupidity) in life. These are the things that you can speak about in your lyrics. The reason God designed you, because He knew that you would have to go through them and come out the other side with unique insight.
We’re all unique. He made us that way so we would have unique things to say, and a unique way to say them.
So look into your life. Think about the things you struggle with. Think about the painful or watershed moments of your life. You know, those things you can’t believe happened to you, and wonder why God allowed them to happen?
Ahem. Here’s why. You have to share that experience and that is what separates you, your music, and your ministry from everyone else.
There’s a reason for your life story. Write from it!
“Come and listen … and I will tell you what [God] has done for me” (Psalm 66:16 TEV).
Have a great week!
Eric Copeland is a songwriter and producer for Creative Soul, a consulting, music production, and development company for Christian songwriters and artists. Ready to get started telling your life story? Get started here!