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Songwriting Attitude Check

Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on February 1, 2010

Some sincere Christians worry about their motivation in writing songs for the Lord. Yet we can’t discuss songwriting without recognizing the potential commerciality of what we do. The writing and merchandising of Christian materials is unlike others, in that we’re handling the word of God. But printing, recording and distribution cost money. If the publishers or record companies don’t make a profit, they can’t stay in business, in which case Bibles, books, song books and recordings will be hard to come by. Publishers and songwriters shouldn’t have to apologize for making a living from what they do, any more than Christian pastors or carpenters. Paying our pastors and teachers is a scriptural premise, and it applies to other forms of ministry as well. But covetousness and greed are not acceptable in any Christian.

It comes down to heart attitude, doesn’t it? If God has given us the ability to make a living from our gifts, let’s be thankful and responsible, never letting money be the deciding factor over ministry. Let’s pray over our calling, deal with our own hearts, and be sure that our motivation is as clean as we can make it. We’re not writing, performing or leading worship in order to become rich and famous, but to be used by God. If success comes, we thank God for it, but we hold it lightly and try to be generous and humble about what we do with it. So don’t be afraid to exercise your gift for fear you’re doing it for the wrong reason, or you may become like the man Jesus told about who buried his talent and was punished for it. Our motives may vary from day to day— 80/20, 90/10, 50/50. That’s not all bad. Pray for purity and servanthood, and go ahead and write.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

We saw someone wearing a tee shirt  that said, “Quit Work. Make Music.” . Sounds like fun, but until you’ve reached the place where your songs are regularly being published and recorded, don’t give up your job to work full time on songwriting. We’ve seen people do this and bring financial disaster on themselves and their families. Remember, even King David, who was arguably the greatest songwriter in the Bible, didn’t quit his day job. Even when publishers start using your material, it takes a while to build a solid catalogue that will bring in enough money to live on. In fact, very few ever make a full-time living from songwriting. So don’t do anything rash.Work as steadily at your music as you can, and things will unfold for you gradually in God’s timing, if He has called you to it in the first place. In the meantime, prepare yourself to be the very best you can be. Offer your talent to the Lord and let Him place you where He wants you.

Be the Best You Can Be

You may be content to keep your music as a hobby, but if you find you have a serious gift that is beginning to be recognized by others, our advice to you is to learn all you can as fast as you can. It will make the rest of your life easier and more fulfilling. Being really fluent in modern harmony can mean the difference between many years of soaring with your gift—or many years of slogging with it, always trying to figure it out instead of knowing what you’re doing. It can be very frustrating to hear great music in your head but not know how to communicate it. What you don’t know can hurt you. Whatever your musical ambitions may be, learn all you can. The more you know, the better off you are.

{include god-songs]

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