I’m Sorry, Steven Curtis Chapman

Like any good church kid growing up in the 90s, I was all about the wave of CCM music. Unlike many folks, I still find myself going back to those songs from time to time. Jars of Clay, Third Day, Audio Adrenaline, and the Newsboys were personal favorites. I was in hook, line, and sinker. These days I find myself focused on more recent CCM artists,

Jars of Clay – Their cassette was the first album I ever remember buying.

favorites being Andrew Peterson, NEEDTOBREATHE, Chris Rice, and more. In college I discovered more and more about Rich Mullins and few folks have shaped my life more than the legacy of Rich.

I tell you this because no matter how my moods might have changed, one things stayed the same: I did not like Steven Curtis Chapman. At all.

Looking back on it, I’m not sure why exactly. As CCM music changed over the years, I started to see what I believe to be his squeaky clean image and thought SCC was a prime example of everything that was wrong with the industry.  The music wasn’t terrible, but usually I would play it more of a joke to my wife. “Saddle up your hoooorrrsess…” ..”I’m diving in…oh ohhh woaah ohh” It was a throwback, but not always an appreciated one.

This is the SCC that would show up in my head.

To be honest, I knew nothing about the man other than what I saw from a distance. Jenni would often tell me how much I was missing as she knows how much emphasis I place on lyrical quality when choosing what I should listen to in any scenario. I would have none of it. SCC was not for me.

This year for Father’s Day, I asked for the gift that everyone would probably expect from me: two tickets to see Steven Curtis Chapman in concert for his upcoming solo tour. And I cannot wait.

What changed? Two years ago, SCC released his autobiography, “Between Heaven and The Real World.” Having known a little about his story, I was interested, but I was not prepared for what I found.

In his book, we get a glimpse of what was really happening in his life at the time that many of his biggest hits were hitting the airwaves. Struggles with finances, marriage, raising kids, the loss of his children, and so many more things helped put his life into a new perspective. While I am sorry that he has walked through so many tough times, his candor in sharing his story made me start to see things in a new way.

As I read the book, I became more involved in listening to his music and really going back to look at the words. I could see how SCC was faithful in letting the Spirit lead him to write music out of his story. As I understood him more, I felt a connection. I’ve never been one to score high on an empathy scale, but as she shared I found many places where I could relate Some of his music helped get me through a rough year and at just the right time this year he released a new song that helped me celebrate life with a new perspective.

I write all of this with no expectation that SCC will ever see this, but I felt like I needed to say this publicly: “Steven Curtis Chapman, I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry that my judgment kept me from connecting with your music sooner. I’m sorry that I looked at the polished exterior of public image and thought for a minute that you were anything less than honest. I’m sorry for putting folks like Rich Mullins on a pedestal because of their ability to be raw while at the same time holding others like you to a standard that I myself can rarely manage to uphold.

I share this because I think there is a reminder that I need and I suspect others can benefit from as well. Whether it is in church, at work, in a restaurant, at a ballfield, or wherever life brings you…let’s stop assuming things about people based on public image. Let’s not forget that we all have our struggles and burdens and we never really know what is happening behind the curtain. The truth is, I shouldn’t have had to read this book and hear his stories to come down from my place of judgment. I’m sorry that it took me so long.sccpost3

To open up and share the parts of your life that don’t seem to match up to what others expect from you takes courage. The fact that that last sentence is true is more of a condemnation on the church than it is on any one person. We should expect, welcome, and even demand moments where we don’t just say “I’m fine,” but instead, “Well here’s where I’m struggling right now.”

I am thankful for the authenticity shared in his book and I believe it serves as yet another reminder of how important it is that we share stories. We all have things going on. How much stronger and more connected will we be when we decide to let others in?

I’m excited to sit and listen to a show next week. I’m thankful for a new world of music that has been opened to me and the way that it has ministered to me. I’m thankful for the reminder that I need to stop with my own preconceived notions of others. And oh yeah: I’m sorry, Steven Curtis Chapman.



It’s amazing what almost six months can do. In early May one of our boys, Henry, was still in the NICU and we were waiting on his brain to develop to where he would decide he wanted to eat. Jenni and I were so thankful for all of the prayers and well wishes offered to us. Not to make light of where they were only a few months ago, I can confirm this much has changed since then:

They like to eat. No, they love to eat.

Based on genetics and who their father is, I am sure that this is no surprise to most of you. zbabyeat6

I know we aren’t supposed to be jealous, but I do think it is some kind of a double standard about how people view babies versus adults. Case in point?

It is socially acceptable for them to cry, weep, wail, and have the gnashing of gums when they decide that it has been longer than they think it should be before a meal. They do it and get sympathy. I do it and people give me weird looks.

While they both cry, Asher can scream at levels that I did not know were humanly possible. We can tell which baby is up from the other end of the house because Asher can give a tea kettle scream envy.

As one who sympathizes with hunger, I do not mind feeding them and want to help them feel better (and perhaps get them ready to nap longer). We’ll get the bottles ready and lay them in position and wait for them to eat.

But every now and then something happens….they decide maybe halfway or more into the bottle that they aren’t as hungry. They’ll shift their heads, not in pain, but just because they no longer see their hunger as an immediate need. They’ll gum at the bottle. They’ll grin at us. But they just stop eating.

zbabyeat3I know that there are a million theories and you aren’t supposed to push food…but I also know that if they don’t finish what I am trying to give them, they will be hungry sooner. Hunger leads to fussing. Fussing leads to crying. Crying involves all of us.  Plus, they need the nutrients in the bottle to grow.

One night I was feeding both and they decided it was the perfect time to both protest. We battled it out and eventually it went down, but after they had gone down for the night I started thinking about how I do this same thing. I’m guessing you might as well.  

It might not be protesting a meal, but there are things that we beg and plead for God to do. There are opportunities that we ask for. We pray and look and prepare fo the day when things will work out a certain way. We want a certain job. We want a certain opportunity. We want a relationship. We want our churches to have opportunities to serve more. We ask God to do things bigger than we can dream.

We pray big prayers. But then when opportunities come, something happens.

And just like the boys with their bottles, we get halfway through and we get distracted.
It’s not that we don’t know we want the things we asked for, the need just doesn’t seem as great. And perhaps it starts to feel more like a work we have to do instead of a work that we want to do. zbabyeat4

In an age where every church wants the biggest innovation, where every person is challenged to be the best and the brightest and the strongest, I think we forget that even the greatest things happen through deliberate attempts to be faithful even when things have lost their shine.

We commit to things, whether it be a new program at church, a new diet that we believe will be the fix, a new reading plan, or whatever it might be…and then we stop when the initial passion is gone. And because we don’t commit, we don’t finish. And just like the boys if they don’t finish their bottle, we get restless faster.

Wherever you are today might not be the newest and most exciting, but God has you there to use you to do great things for the kingdom. My hope is that we learn to commit to sticking through it, to working hard, and trusting that God called us to places for a reason.

Let’s do the work and see what happens.

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