I had the super cool priveledge of interviewing Christian Artist Shaun Groves, who is gearing up for the release of his latest album, Third World Symphony, which you can check out here:Shaun has been in the Christian music industry for 11 years, and during that time has been drawn to living more simply so that others can “simply live”- he and his family have committed their time and energies to Compassion International, a Christian Child Advocacy group that helps more than 1.2 million children globally to overcome spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. I just KNEW that he would have something meaningful to say…
And he sings great, too ; )
The requisite for the interview was to ask three questions… only three. So I asked six. ; )
These are the three that he answered…
(Me) : 1. How have you managed, over the years, to keep family, work, and personal growth in balance without loosing your way?
(Shaun) :”It’s kind of you to think I’ve never lost my way! Oh, I wish that was true. It’s losing my way that helped me find it again.
My first tour ever was with Bebo Norman back in 2001. 65 shows in three months with only a handful of days off in Nashville where I could see my family. Back then Becky and I had only one daughter and because of that tour I missed her first steps. And her first word was “Bebo.“ Is that a word?
After that tour I hopped on a bus with Jars of Clay. Threes days off each week at home. And my wife even got to spend a few days on the road with us too. But I was still gone too much. I could feel it. I was miserable - half a man without Becky and my little girl.
When I came off the road from that tour I took Becky out on a date – our first in many months. And she said to me, “I’m not saying I want a divorce…but I understand now why so many artists get divorced.” She told me how lonely she’d felt, how I wasn’t supporting her in all the ways she needed. And I didn’t argue. I felt that too. We pledged right there, over some biscuits and sweet tea, to change the way we do things.
Ever since then we’ve had limits in place on my travel. And those limits change as the seasons of life change. For the last three years, for example, we limit my travel to 10 cities each month and two week long overseas trips each year. But now we’re changing that to 8 cities each month. But I don’t always do the max either. There are times when we decided together that we need to cut back for a month, or block a certain week because I’m needed at home a bit more than usual. I never make decisions about my work alone. We do it together. And now that my two oldest are old enough to express their feelings, they get a say too.
(Me): 2. As a motivated entrepreneur, I am constantly inundating my brain with information on steps to “success”, but am always cautious of self-help that seems to be focused on “getting rich”, instead of “increasing your borders” so to speak . As a practitioner of the Gospel of Christ, how would you advise others on how to guard your heart from falling into the trap of “loving money”, even as you have found financial wealth?
(Shaun): Something God is teaching right now – and it’s a painful lesson for me – is that He did not love the world so much that he sent steps, books, programs, conferences. He sent the person Jesus. Most of my life I’ve tried to know God, win at work, raise kids, be a good friend, free the poor, all using steps and programs. The steps and programs were certainly biblical – well, most of the time – but my mistake has always been in following the steps, working the program, and thinking that by doing so I’m following God. But I was nothing but a deist.
A Deist believes God made the world, keeps it going with certain immutable laws (gravity, E=MC squared, three steps to raising responsible children, etc) and so God doesn’t have to be involved in our lives at all. His laws, his Bible, his steps and programs, are running the world for Him. A Deist works the program, follows the steps, but sees no real need to relate to God through prayer, silence, solitude, corrective and encouraging community.
The key to keeping ourselves free from the love of money is the same as the steps to raising godly children, staying married, developing a generous nature. Relate intimately and regularly and constantly with the person Jesus. All the steps and programs in the world are no replacement for Him – no matter how “biblical” they claim to be. Relate to the Creator who wants to be intimately involved in forming our thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, every aspect of our lives.
There is no program. There’s just a Person.
(Me): 3. I LOVE the principle of “helping Christians discover what they were saved for”- what are your thoughts specifically on this precept, and how are some of the ways that you achieve this goal?
(Shaun): Jesus never asked anyone to ask him into their heart. He never asked us to “accept” him as our “personal Lord and Savior” either. Some say this language can be traced back to the great revivals here in America. Others say it started with D.L. Moody, a wonderful man of God who meant well. And, really, there’s nothing wrong with this language. It’s accurate. The bible does speak of Christ dwelling in us and of Jesus being Lord and Savior (though we need His acceptance and He doesn’t need ours.)
The main problem with the way you and I were raised think about salvation is that it doesn’t go far enough. Instead of the kind of alter call you and I grew up with, Jesus told prospective converts to “repent” because the “kingdom of God is here.”
The kingdom of God is His reign or rule. The kingdom or rule of God is here on earth wherever and whenever God’s will is carried out – just as the will of a king is carried out within his domain. Jesus prayed that the kingdom would come – that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus said that the kingdom is within us (That’s where D.L. Moody’s language is certainly biblical) but Jesus also said God’s kingdom was going to rule here and now over more than our internal lives, our hearts. He said in Luke 4 that He’d come to earth to rule over sickness (sight for the blind), economic hardship (release of those imprisoned for debt), and injustice (freedom for the oppressed). Jesus says when His kingdom comes like this, when God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, when sickness and poverty and injustice are overpowered by God, it is GOOD NEWS for the poor.
Jesus commands us to “repent” – or shift our allegiance from our own personal kingdom to His kingdom – and partner with him in seeing it advance across the globe. This what we were saved for. All of us, in myriad ways every day, have the wonderful opportunity to spend our time and money and talents and all we have advancing the kingdom of God right here and now. This is GOOD NEWS for the rich.
So, D.L. moody was only half right. He did a great job telling us what we were saved from: We’ve been saved from the punishment we deserve and now, when we trust Jesus Christ alone to forgive us, God moves into our heart and accepts us as His children. BUT there’s more! As Christ IN us lives THROUGH us the kingdom of God comes wherever we go. This is what we’ve been saved for.
Keri here… I LOVE that he said that we were saved for bringing the Kingdom of God on EARTH as it is in HEAVEN.
The Good News for the Rich is that we were gifted to “carry each other” (Bono, of course) by sharing our gifts and talents with the Kingdom; and the Good News to the Poor is that the KINGDOM of GOD is HERE. Our Deliverer is Here.
That is, INDEED, the Good News. Your Kingdom Come, oh, Lord.
Thanks, Shaun for taking time out to bring the Kingdom to the Savvy Boheme theater.
And for you all who want to purchase his latest album, Third World Symphony, try here. I did, and am listening now with a cup of greek yogurt with honey and almond granola and a glass of sparling water… It’s a beautifully worshipful moment, reminiscent of the Isrealites entering into their Promise Land, flowing with milk and honey. Your Kingdom Come, oh, God.