A few years ago when I was living in South Florida, I met my now best friend, Steve Beaulieu. If you’re reading this, obviously you know Steve too, and you probably think of him fondly as I do as well. I met Steve at a time in my life where I needed something. I needed something so much more than I was willing to admit. I needed someone in my life that would challenge me. I needed someone that would challenge what I believe. I just didn’t know it yet.
I met Steve after I responded to a craigslist ad that was looking for a Christian guitarist for his band, Stonehigh. I had played bass most of my life, and I didn’t even own a guitar, but I responded to the ad nevertheless. I told Steve that I was familiar with playing guitar as it wasn’t exactly that foreign to me. I said I didn’t even own a guitar setup, but if he was interested I’d love to meet up. I met with him and Zack (Stonehigh’s bassist) one afternoon and I played a few riffs on my acoustic guitar for just a couple of minutes. Steve stopped me mid-riff and said that that was enough. I wasn’t sure why, I assumed it was because I sucked (which I did, and still do). He wanted to get to know me personally. Steve explained to me his situation with his previous two guitarists, and told me all he cared about was where I stood with Jesus. I went on to tell him my testimony of dealing with drug & alcohol addictions and the trials I had endured in the cleansing process Jesus had brought me through. He began to laugh half way through my testimony and exclaimed to Zack, “Hahaha! I love this! I like this guy!”
After some back and forth with other auditions, I was in the band. Steve and I hit it off quickly. Our friendship was not based on our musical connection. It was based on Jesus. Our entire relationship grew with Jesus being at the center. We were iron sharpening iron. Through our relationship we talked all the time about the music business. It was incredibly important to Steve that the band have a close relationship with God. He knew of the pressures and influence that the music business has on people. I had known of it as well being that I had been in bands since I was 14. The difference between Steve and I was that I had given in to the influence at one point, where Steve had not. I had a hard time wrapping my head around Steve’s idea of going into the “Christian” music scene, not the “secular” scene. Looking back on it, I believe God was looking out for Steve and Stonehigh. I pushed harder and harder to get guys in the band just so we could play some shows, being that we were losing original members left and right. Steve persisted that it wasn’t the way to go. Steve eventually came to the conclusion that worship ministry is where his heart was, and that would be the new direction for the band. I struggled deeply with his decision; it felt as though he was just throwing away the gift God had given him. He had a real talent for writing rock music. To know that he would never write that kind of music again just bothered me. He had made his decision on what would be best for him and his family. I disagreed.
Sometime later, I was thinking of moving back to Seattle based on some events that happened in Florida that I was responding to immaturely. I contacted a Christian band back in Seattle that I had once played some shows with. I asked them if they knew of anyone looking for a lead singer or guitarist. The guitarist I spoke with responded with a, “Wow.” Apparently their lead singer had just left the band only a week earlier after they had just signed a record deal with Century Media. Aaron (the guitarist) felt that maybe it was a God thing that I had contacted him at that time. I flew up to Seattle, met with the guys, did my official tryout, and anxiously awaited their response back home in Florida. I was excited to say the least. I hit it off great with them; they seemed like solid Christian guys. This was it. I was finally going to make it. I was finally going to be in a touring band. They were still going to try out some other guys, but I felt like I was a shoe in. I made plans to move back to Seattle still not knowing if I was in the band or not. I had just gotten married only 3 months prior, and everything seemed to be falling into place. Or so I thought.
It’s funny how when you make plans, you frequently forget to see if God has the same plans for you. I had prayed about it, but it felt like all of the doors were closing in Florida and opening in Seattle. It seemed like a no-brainer. It was a no-brainer. As in, I didn’t use my brain. That move was single-handedly one of the worst decisions I have ever made in my life. I dragged my bride to a place she didn’t want to go for a position that would possibly have me on the road away from her for up to 250 days a year. Things spiraled out of control quickly with my marriage. Our honeymoon phase had barely begun before I was dealing with some very serious and heavy issues with my wife. After only being in Seattle a month or so, the band emailed me to tell me that they had gone with a different vocalist who actually lived in Florida as well. It was over. I moved to Seattle so that I could be in a touring band only to find out that I wasn’t picked. I put my marriage on the line for selfish purposes, and I lost. My marriage was falling apart quickly and no matter how much tape I applied to it, nothing was holding it together.
God revealed to me during this time how selfish I had been. I had left my best friend in Florida because I was too prideful to talk to him, I had left my church because of my prideful nature again and not talking to my Pastor, and above all else, I had moved to the complete other side of the country for a reason that my wife didn’t even support just to send a signal back to Florida that we were through. All I had ever wanted was right there in Florida, and I just walked away from it all to pursue a dream I had had since I was 14. It’s funny how sometimes we assume that our dreams are still the same as they were when we were children. It’s easy to not look at what you have and be grateful. It’s always easier to never be satisfied with what God has given you. The grass will always be greener on the other side if you don’t stop and realize and thank God for everything He has given you.
In time I grew to be thankful that I wasn’t picked to be in that band. My marriage was a much greater gift than any dream I might have had when I was younger. And there I was, just attempting to throw it all away on some pipe dream. Thankfully it didn’t happen. Thankfully my wife didn’t leave me. Thankfully I was given a second chance. I vowed to never again put my selfishness ahead of my wife. It was a hard lesson to learn. I almost lost it all, and by the grace of God, I didn’t.
During that year that I spent back in Seattle, I got to be really good friends with the drummer of that band I had tried out for. He was single and wanted to get married to a good Christian woman. He talked with me a lot about marriage. I shared with him all that I had learned at that point, and how important a marriage is. He seemed to really listen. He began to question his role in the band. He began to realize that if he was on tour for the majority of the year, he would never meet his wife. And if he did, he questioned whether or not that marriage would even last with him being gone for so long. He was good friends with the worship pastor at Mars Hill and asked him a lot of the same questions he had asked me. Pastor Joel having known many people in the music business told him that he had never seen a touring Christian musician ever have a successful marriage. Almost every single Christian musician he had known had already been divorced. I’m sure for non-Christian musicians the statistics are the very same.
How can a Christian possibly be grounded when you’re on the road? You’re not involved in church, you’re away from your family, and you’re left to your own devices when you’re by yourself. Now if you’re in a touring band surrounded by the music scene? The drugs, the alcohol, the debauchery that takes place… How long could you really abstain? Apparently the odds are not in your favor. Is it possible to have a close relationship with Jesus, a solid marriage, and be on the road? Sure, but it’s not that likely. When I took my first job with the railroad in Denver, CO, that job had me on the road for around 17 days a month. To say that even that small amount of time took a toll on my walk with God is an understatement. Let me just go ahead and tell you, you’re not as strong as you think you are. You need Jesus, and you need accountability. Had I not taken my Monday through Friday job down here in Houston, I question where my walk with God and my marriage would be right now. It doesn’t take long before you begin to start living a double-life. I only know a small percentage of this being that I only had that job for 7 months. But let me tell you, it was 7 months too long to be away from my wife, my church, and my Christian accountability partners. You’re not as strong as you think you are. The church is a body and maybe your role in that body is to be the thumb. The thumb does not get to say to the rest of the body, “Hey, you know what? I’m going to leave and go over here for awhile and do my own thing.” It doesn’t work that way. Don’t deceive yourself. You need the body to give you life. Jesus designed the church that way. Don’t be so naïve to think you don’t need to be involved. You need people in your life that will ask you the difficult questions. You need that iron to sharpen iron. If it’s you, the iron, trying to sharpen yourself against some Kleenex, the non-Christians around you, you’re in for a world of hurt. And let me be the first to tell you, and I say this from first-hand experience, you don’t want to be in a place where God is screaming at you and you’re not listening. You can easily forget that our God is a jealous God. He will do whatever it takes to get your attention. And the lengths He will go to get that attention are not enjoyable.
If you’re someone reading this that is looking to be a touring musician, be aware. If you think that you’re strong, and maybe the band you’re in are all good solid Christians, take a look at the Christian band, As I Lay Dying. They’ve done quite well for themselves in their career. Penning very inspiring Christian lyrics, and writing very talented songs. But just last week, Tim Lambesis, the lead singer/songwriter of the band was arrested for propositioning an undercover police officer to murder his estranged wife. His wife reported that just a year ago after extensive touring with his band, Lambesis told her he didn’t love her anymore and he no longer believed in God. Was Lambesis surrounded by good Godly men? Was he involved in a church? Was he even around his wife? No, not at all. Look what happens. Obviously this is an extreme case, but the evidence is on the table. You think that maybe going to the “Christian” music route is a better way to go? Ask Michael English, Jaci Velasquez, or even Shawn MacDonald. They all have been divorced; they’ll tell you the same thing. Leaving your spouse, your church, and your accountability will never put you in a good place. You’re not as strong as you think you are. The music business is a dangerous place to be if you’re a Christian. Maybe Steve knew this the entire time. Maybe he didn’t know at all. Maybe God was looking out for him and his wife and for me too. In any case, look at your life now, and your life in the coming years; who are you surrounding yourself with? What plans do you have for your life? And if you’ve been foolish enough to make plans: Have you shared with God your plans yet? I’m sure He’ll get a good laugh when you tell him.