Chris Tomlin Went From Sports Medicine to Award Winning Musician
Atlanta's Chris Tomlin is an
award winning musician, once named by TIME as the "most sung
artist anywhere." He's won multiple Billboard, Dove awards, as
well as a GRAMMY, and most recently he's a best-selling
children's book author. His book, "Good Good Father" debuted
this month at #4 on the Christian Booksellers' Top 50 list.
However, Tomlin didn't begin there, in fact he once was a college student
on a completely different path, studying to be in sports
medicine. We caught up with Tomlin at the release of "Good
Good Father," to chat more about his latest projects (one he
calls the riskiest yet), dreams coming to fruition, and the
power of faith along the journey.
You have won a Grammy award, multiple
Billboard awards, Dove awards, but you once were a college
student studying something different than music. I think a lot
of kids in their twenties get stuck in, 'this is what I think I
should study, this is what I think I should do, but I really
have this vision or dream that God's calling me somewhere else.
So, what really was the turning point for you in deciding to
pursue music full time?
There were lots of things. One was a prayer from the 8th grade,
and I said "God, never let me forget this prayer, that I prayed
one night. God, whatever you want me to do for the rest of my
life, I want to follow you."
I didn't know what that is. I never prayed to be a songwriter. I didn't
pray any of those things. I just prayed God, I want to be
available to follow you. And, so when I was in college, I would
hear that prayer. It wasn't that I was going down a wrong path,
it was just like God had given me this gift, and was opening up
all these doors, making it obvious that I had this gift for
playing music, and leading people to worship God. Yet, I didn't
know how to do that.
I thought I would be in sports medicine, and I was like "I know how to do
that." I can go to college, get a degree, and get a job. I don't
know how to do music. How do you 'go do music? I don't have
anyone in my family that does that. I don't know anybody, how do
you do that? But, all these opportunities kept coming. I
remember being on the phone with a friend one night. He doesn't
even remember saying this, but he said it. I was telling him
what I was doing, 'I think I'm going to be in sports medicine or
go to physical therapy school.'
He said, "Isn't that interesting, Chris. We always have our plans, and we
don't think God will show up?" I was just looking at the phone,
and that was all I needed to hear. I thought, I am doing my own
plan right now. So again, it was risky, scary, taking steps.
There were no record companies beating down my door, there were no
publishers, there was no album. I didn't have a band, there was
none of that. It was me, an acoustic guitar, and my 4-runner.
I would play churches, wherever.
It's been small steps. It's A to B, B to C, C to D, not A to Z. It's just
small steps, and being faithful in those steps. (Tweet That)
What made you want to jump into the children's book world?
A: Well, I have two little girls, and every night is
reading books, so I'm in that world. I'm already thinking that
way. I love stories, and I love seeing what connects with my
Being a part of this song "Good Good Father," what a privilege and
an honor. It is one of the greatest songs of a generation. So,
Pat (Barrett) who wrote this song, I went to him, when we
were recording it. I said, "Pat, the opening line, 'I've heard a
thousand stories of what they say you're like.' That very first
lyric. I think that's an amazing story for kids. I think we
could really take this idea."
And, at that point, I had a little girl, and I said, "what if we take
this little girl, and she wants to know what God's like? She
keeps asking all these different people...and they're giving her
different answers, 'I think He's a warrior, I think He's a
farmer, I think he's this,' because everyone has a different
opinion on God, but all those things are true. Because He's a
Father, He protects, He provides, all this stuff started coming
about, how could we teach kids that God is so many things? And,
obviously, the little girl turned into Tucker the bear, and it
took a lot of different formations. And, obviously, the king is
the Father. It's been amazing. I love this story."
Don't tell anybody, but I think I had more fun writing this book, than
writing my music, because it was so different."
Do you think you'll write another book?
A: I don't know about that. I already talked to my wife
about it, and she said, "you think you're going to do this?" I
don't know, I really, really loved it, so we'll see how this
Your eleventh studio album, "Never
Lose Sight came out October 21st. What do you feel like God has
been specifically teaching you that maybe is different than past
A: The album is
titled, "Never Lose Sight," and it's probably that. I
think it's a great reminder to never lose sight of what all this
is really about. The lyric says, "and if I never, never lose
sight of this place," talking about the cross, "then I will
never, never lose sight of your grace." And I think it's
encouraging people, encouraging myself, in times when, maybe
you're in a hard place, there is more unseen, than there is
~ Go to our other Chris
Tomlin feature page,
Chris Tomlin's official video of "Home" -
Never lose sight of the grace of God.
Never lose sight that God is a good Father. Never lose sight that,
with God, all things are possible, and, hopefully, people catch
that. That none of this exists without the grace of God. There's no
music, there's no worship music, there's no hope connection to God
without the grace of what God has done through his son Jesus. So,
it's really that's simple, to never lose sight of that. That's the
whole reason any of this exists!
another project, in theaters one day only, a unity project, with
multiple artists, speakers, Louie Giglio, Max Lucado..
A: Worship night in America! The response has been
overwhelming, for these one night things, they tell me for people
who do these one night things, they haven't seen this type of
response before, already from tickets that have been sold, and all
the theaters that are going to. It's really a night that's bringing
the church together, in unity. Obviously it was right before the
election, and that's purposeful, because we wanted in a moment to
"Prayer is greater than politics" (Tweet That)
That's kind of what I wanted to say, we are at a place of unrest,
uncertainty. Where are we headed as a nation? Where are we headed in
the world? There's so much fear in the world, and I wanted to say,
the church's place has always been to stand and gather, and be
people of faith in the midst of all that. I'm just really grateful
to be in these nights, and to have all these people, to see what
happens. I wish I could be in every theatre! We'll be connected
across the nation.
Worship Night In America
tour, kicks off April 4. Featuring Chris,
Big Daddy Weave, Phil Wickham, Zach Williams, Mosaic MSC
the tour will make 23 stops, mostly across the western US, filling
arenas with thousands of voices lifted in praise.)
"It is powerful when all streams of the church come together in an
act of unity to worship and pray...that's the heart behind Worship
Night In America," Tomlin said. "I pray these nights are filled with
revival and restoration as we all join together proclaiming one
I read that it was a dream, that
really woke you up in the middle of the night, and one that you felt
God gave you. I wanted to see what that dream looked like, and I
think a lot of people get stuck after they get that vision from God,
because of fear. So, what did that dream look like, and maybe the
first step you did once you got that dream?
A: Well, the vision was really, you know it comes about that
fast (snaps fingers), and I just saw it. I saw this arena filled
with people. Then, I saw all my friends who are worship leaders,
leading together, and we're all, 'hey, what's the next song? What
are we going to sing? Hey, let's just sing together!' In my world,
it's this band plays, then this band plays, then the headliner
plays. The vision I felt, the dream I felt God gave me, was all of
us together, there are no openers, there are no headliners, we're
all together, bringing the church together, and I just saw it. I
could just see it! I could hear it! I could hear the sound, and I
thought, 'this is going to be amazing.'
The steps, I think, are to sit with it for a while, and see in about a
month or two, if that's still something burning in you. And it was,
it never left. It just kept burning, like I want to..."
Kind of like that gut, soul stirring feeling?
A: Yes, this is something I feel like I need to.
It (pursuing dreams) usually has great risk involved, and probably the
riskiest thing I've ever done in my life.
Because, I would go on tour, and it's just the way they work, they
have all this marketing. It's a formula, and it just works, you go
to town, to town, to town, in your buses, and this is like two or
three nights, and you're going into these venues that are huge and
expensive. 'Is anyone coming? Is this going to work?'
I would lay in bed with my wife, and I'd be like, 'you know babe, if this
doesn't work, this is not going to be good for us, this is going to
be hard.' She's like, 'this is going to be great, we just need to
have faith, and this is going to be amazing!'"
Dreams and visions, the right ones, I
think have risk
It's been amazing to see, and to see two, three years later, it's now
going to be in theaters is pretty incredible!
know you get asked this question a lot.
What advice you would give a young songwriter, or artist. I want to
flip the question on it's head a bit, and ask, now that you are at
this point, what would you tell your younger self, before all this
has happened. Maybe even something you didn't realize about the
A: Wow! I would say,
and I feel like I have done this, so that's a good thing! Stay true,
just really stay true to who you are, and your authentic self, and
your gut self. Especially for music, people come along...and the
next cool thing comes along, and you think I've got to be more like
them, because that's cool. I think if you're like, "no, this is how
God made me, this is the lane I'm in, and this is my lane."
I think from time to time, you'll want to do this thing. That's what I
would tell my younger self, 'don't get distracted.
This is the best thing ever, don't get distracted with all the hype of
who you are, and all the criticism you're getting. You can look at
all the hype and all the press, and think "ah, you're doing great!"
Or, you can just read Itunes reviews, and think everybody hates me.
Don't! That has nothing to do with what you're doing.
Just be true to God, this what You want me to do, this is the lane You've
given me, this is who You've made me to be, I'm going to do this
like this, so that's probably what I would tell my younger self.
Thanks Chris Tomlin for being so honest, truthful, and candid in
telling more of your journey as a dreamer with God-sized dreams!
Watch the video interview here
~ from ifyoucandreamitdoit.com ~