I’ve slept in a hospital room the last three nights to be with my elderly Mom. She’ll be entering hospice when she, hopefully, leaves here in the next day or so. After camping out here for the last 72 hours, I have been seriously thinking about becoming an orderly or a chaplain just so I can walk around the hospital encouraging the amazing men and women who are called “nurse.” These people work extremely hard and deserve a lot more pay and gratitude than they get. We’ve had great care and no little compassion from the staff. We are grateful.
As I’m sitting in the coffee shop downstairs, Samuel Barber’s, “Adagio for Strings,” is playing over the lobby sound system. If you don’t know the piece, it is widely recognized as one of the most emotionally provocative compositions in classical music, and so much so that a Nashville Symphony player told us that many in the orchestra were in tears once when performing it. I don’t doubt it. I’m feeling a little teary myself right now as the Adagio is pulling raw emotion out of me over a dark roast coffee and a cranberry muffin.
But such is the power of music, right?
What’s even more amazing is that the adagio is instrumental only – there aren’t even any words – and yet it’s still evoking strong sentiment in me right now. Of course, I am sleep deprived, so maybe “Mary Had a Little Lamb” could make me bawl right now, too. Either way, music touches the heart in ways words alone never could.
And that’s why what you do is so important.
Whether you’re just beginning your songwriting journey or are further down the road, the songs you write have more power than you’ll ever know. No matter how simple, your words and melodies can do more than just evoke emotion, as nice as that may be. You can help bring healing to people’s hearts and minds through a song. A marriage can be strengthened and even restored through a song. One song can help people through the darkest times of their lives. Throughout history single songs have been rallying points for entire movements and even nations to bring unity, courage, and the will to fight and win over enemies threatening their borders.
Being a songwriter is no small thing.
In fact, as Christian songwriters, I believe it to be a high and holy calling and that’s why I take it so seriously. After speaking personally to over five hundred aspiring songwriters in the last year (many of you reading this now), without fail everyone says they feel “called to write” for Jesus.
Writing for Jesus is great and I believe in it. But never forget that you’re writing for people on behalf of Jesus. He doesn’t need your songs. I need your songs. My Mama up in her room needs yours songs. The burdened teems of humanity shuffling through these hospital corridors need your songs, songs that only you might write.
If you start feeling sorry for yourself or you’re discouraged because you haven’t figured out how to write a radio hit yet, go ahead and repent now so you can get out of your self-pity and remember that your gift isn’t for you. It’s for the brave doctors, nurses, orderlies, security personnel, family members, patients, and case workers doing their best to make it through another day doing what they have to do.
Obedience to your calling is the real prize, the end game of God, not arriving at “success” to be recognized for your talents alone. It may help you to spend a few minutes listening to Barber’s, “Adagio for Strings,” to remember the sheer power of music, a true gift from God built into us like few other things.
God’s pleasure is as much in the journey as it is in the destination. Songs do matter in the end. They also matter all along the way and we’ll carry certain songs with us from infancy to our final breath. God’s given us music and song to comfort, cheer, and remind us of His faithful presence in good times and bad.
I hate that my Mom’s here, but I’ve loved trying to make Alicia, Casey, Reshonda, and Miss T smile a little through their shifts. I could never be a nurse, but I could be great at mopping floors and stripping beds.
UPDATE: After spending eight days and nights with his Mom in the hospital she passed away peacefully into the arms of Christ.
NCS Song Power Week 2018 is a FREE week long empowering event happening January 22 – 27 LIVE on the Nashville Christian Songwriters Facebook Fan Page every day from 11am – noon CDT with artists, songwriters, music industry influencers, and giveaways. Tune in at https://www.facebook.com/pg/nashvillechristiansongwriters/ and read more here on https://nashvillechristiansongwriters.com/ncs-song-power-week/.
John Chisum is a long-time Christian music business professional, ordained minister, songwriter, publisher, and worship leader. He is the former Director of Song Development and Copyright for Integrity Media, and the former Vice-president of Publishing for Star Song Communications. John has managed dozens of professional Christian songwriters such as Paul Baloche, Lynn DeShazo, Gary Sadler, and many others, and has had over 400 of his own songs recorded. Along with his business career, John is an internationally respected worship leader and has traveled over one-million miles in ministry worldwide, while constantly serving in local churches over the last 30 years. He holds a Masters of Arts in Worship Studies from Liberty University. John and his wife, Donna, have been married for 36 years and live in the Nashville area.
John is currently Managing Partner for Nashville Christian Songwriters. You can reach him at john@