Chris Tomlin Went From Sports Medicine to Award Winning Musician

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 #1 best-selling children's book author. 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. 

If You Can Dream It Do It:

"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?"

Tomlin

"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 opportunites 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 was 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)

If You Can Dream It Do It:

"What made you want to jump into the children's book world?"

Tomlin:

"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 little girls." 

"Being apart of this song "Good Good Father," what a privilege and an honor. It is one of the greatest songs of a generation. So, Pat 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."

"It's been really special with those two little girls in my lap reading it." -Tomlin

"It's been really special with those two little girls in my lap reading it." -Tomlin

If You Can Dream It Do It: 

"Do you think you'll write another book?"

Tomlin: 

"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 does!"

If You Can Dream It Do It: 

"You have a BUSY October, your eleventh studio album, Never Lose Sight comes out October 21st. What do you feel like God has been specifically teaching you that maybe is different than past work?"

Tomlin: 

"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 seen. 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!"

If You Can Dream It Do It:

"Four days later, on October 25th, there's another project, in theaters one day only, a unity project, with multiple artists, speakers, Louie Giglio, Max Lucado.."

Tomlin:

"Worship night in America! It is coming to theaters across the nation, across churches. 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's right before the election, and that's purposeful, because we wanted in a moment to say,

"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, and it's coming up October 25th."

If You Can Dream It Do It:

"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. This is actually a site about really following through on your dreams."

Tomlin:

Amazing! 

If You Can Dream It Do It: 

"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?"

Tomlin:

"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 is to sit with it for a while, and see in about a month or two time, if that's still something burning in you, and it was, it never left. It just kept burning, like I want to..."

If You Can Dream It Do It: 

"Kind of like that gut, soul stirring feeling?"

Tomlin: 

"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!"

If You Can Dream It Do It:

"I 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 now, what would you tell your younger self, before all this has happened. Maybe even something you didn't realize about the industry?"

Tomlin: 

"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!

#IfYouCanDreamItDoIt

Watch the interview here:

(Thank you, David Robbins for filming!)

Good Good Father on sale now

Never Lose Sight pre-order now

Find tickets for Worship Night In America

Toodles,

Lindsey