How God Partners with the Composer and Songwriter

A year and a half ago a friend of mine asked me this question and I have been thinking about it ever since.  How does God partner with the composer and songwriter?

Electric Guitar Bridge

I’ve been writing music since I was a kid.  In high school I had lots of black and white composition books chock full of lyrics.  I was into heavy metal and I had rock-n-roll lyrics for everything.  My writing had all the fine literary style of a high school student high on emotion and experiencing the world for the first time.

I don’t know what happened to those books.  I think I may have thrown them away.

When I got to college I studied music composition as well as poetry composition, and in the 12 plus years I have worked in churches I have done quite a bit of arranging for everything from choir to rock band to orchestra.  In the past five years I have once again started writing pop and rock worship songs in addition to writing classical music and poetry.

I have a real passion for setting the written word to music.

So how does God enter into the songwriting and composition process?

Idea 1: God enters into the songwriting process through his creative image in you and me.

God is creative; he created everything.  He is the ultimate creative power.  Part of the evidence that we are created in the likeness of God is the fact that we can create new things.

For the longest time I thought as Solomon did, that “there is nothing new under the sun.”  This idea led me to a very defeatist line of thinking:  “What’s the point?  I’m replicating things that have already been.”

Solomon was wrong.  He was depressed.  If I met someone in that state of mind I would send him to a psychiatrist.

There are new things under the sun every day.

Not long ago I heard Erwin McManus of Mosaic say in relation to this passage of Scripture, “I am quite certain that the wheel was brand new at some point in time.  In fact, I think Jesus walking on water and rising from the dead were pretty new.”

When we create something new we are demonstrating the image of our Creator God.  Even someone who does not know Christ can be extremely creative and, without knowing it, express the image of God through what he or she creates.

God enters into the songwriting process by the fact that we are made like him: to create.

Idea 2: God enters the songwriting process through our minds and preferences.

When we begin to create something new there is always a nucleus of a thought, an idea that takes hold in your mind.  When that idea takes hold in your mind and catches your attention like never before, you have just experienced a taste of God working through you.

God makes new things out of nothing.  He spoke the world into existence out of a void.  He spoke the sun, moon, stars, and all things into existence out of nothing.  God breathed life into man; without God we could not draw a breath.

In the same way I believe that without God we could not think a single original thought.  When we express a new idea or thought God is revealing himself through us as Creator God.  He is using our preferences and abilities to give fresh expression to himself.

Partnering with God

We have been talking specifically about composing and songwriting, but, in reality, God partners with human beings in every single creative activity in exactly the same way.  Sometimes we twist the pure ideas he places in our hearts, and other times we hear clearly and express his ideas well.

Before you begin the day, thank God for what he has done and ask him to guide your thoughts and ideas, actions and motives.  During the day, when you begin a new project or a meeting, ask God to partner with you.  Ask him to create something out of nothing through you.

How have you seen God partner with you creatively?

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finally

The last two days I attended the Global Leadership Summit hosted by the Willow Creek Association and was summarily blown away by the content and speakers.  One of the resounding themes of the GLS was to “jus’ do sump’m,” as Newark, NJ, Mayor Cory Booker put it, and my “sump’m” is starting my own blog.

I love to write, whether it be music, poetry, or simply sharing my thoughts, and you are welcome to come along for the ride.  I doubt I will have something to share every day, but I intend to share everything that comes along my path that is worth sharing.

For starters, here are some of my favorite quotes from the GLS:

  • “Local is like cheap; it won’t get you where you want to go.”  Seth Godin, popular blogger and best-selling author, referring to the description “local” when applied to churches
  • “Just because the tide is out does not mean there is less water in the ocean.”  Also Seth Godin.
  • “With action trumping everything you get more times at bat in the same amount of time.”  Len Schlesinger, President of Babson College
  • “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear a word that you say.”  Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ
  • “We can plan and prepare, but only God can make it rain.”  Steven Furtick, Lead Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC
  • “When you have nothing, God becomes everything.”   Mama Maggie Gobran, CEO and Founder of Stephens Children Ministry, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee
  • “When leaders seem just like us, we tend to think we can be just like them.”  John Dickson, speaker, author, singer and historian
  • “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!”  Isaiah 43:18, quoted by Erwin McManus, author, speaker, artist, filmmaker, and leader
  • “Outside of God we are trapped in the creat-ed order.  Inside of God we are reconnected to the creat-ive order.”  Also Erwin McManus

I have come away reminded that we are made to do new things; we are not condemned to mindless repetition.  With God’s help and especially in this day and age we can change the world from right where we are.  We only have to choose to do so.