One of the biggest names in Christian music has achieved a monumental level of success in his career. With multiple DOVE awards and one Grammy, Chris Tomlin is a force to be reckoned with — but even more so when it comes to his devotion to faith, his family, and his mission as a Christian artist.
Fresh off his Grand Ole Opry debut, Tomlin spoke with LifeZette about his newest Christmas album, “Adore,” and his inspiring witness to the Christian faith. He said he grew up playing the guitar but never planned on becoming a musician full time.
“For me, this was not something I was setting out to do,” he said. “But I loved playing music growing up. My dad taught me to play.”
Tomlin always believed in his heart that God was steering him toward a life that would help others find God. It’s as if he found music through his devotion to his faith.
“When I would play as a young kid at church, I would find that I really loved (to see) people singing,” he said. “I didn’t really want to just get up there and have people hear me play and sing. I wanted some way to help people sing and to even forget I was up there, just to get people singing. And looking back now, I didn’t know that that was God putting a gift in me for leading worship.”
Like many Christian artists, Tomlin felt the call to lead others to worship through his music — yet his devotion to his own personal mission is profoundly unique and inspiring.
His journey to finding his place in the music industry, as he sees it, was something that happened in spite of his plans. But his story also illuminates the deep humility of his character, despite his success. Originally, Tomlin was going to school for sports and medicine and performing music on the side.
But that all changed when his songs blew up in the Christian community.
“I began chasing my songs around the country. It’s just like the songs were way ahead of me. It’s always been about the songs. I feel like I’ve always prayed for songs that would help people worship God and I’m still doing that today. It’s been an amazing, amazing journey.”
“I could win every Grammy Award, sell 100 million records, and be in every Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t compare to being a dad.”
Tomlin’s newest album “Adore” is his second Christmas album, and full of overwhelmingly beautiful songs that exemplify the true reason for the season.
“I didn’t want to be the normal Christmas album,” he explained, “I wanted to create it where it is a moment of worship the whole way through.”
To anyone who has listened to even one track of “Adore,” it is evident Tomlin succeeded in his mission. Yet again in his unassuming manner, Tomlin attributes the depth and celestial nature of the album to the splendor of the Christmas season.
“Christmas is the only season that has its own genre of music. I mean, think about it. Isn’t that interesting? There are lots of holidays throughout the year, but no holiday has its own genre of music, but Christmas does. Why is that? Because it’s the greatest news the world has ever heard. And somewhere along the way, people were like, We’ve got to sing about this.”
Along with his illustrious career in Christian music, Tomlin is a family man to the core. His wife and two daughters are very clearly the center of his life, although his music keeps him on the road.
“There’s a special connection that dads have with their daughters and it’s so special. I’m so thankful that God’s given me daughters,” Tomlin emphasized. “It means the world to me, more than anything else. Nothing compares to it. I could win every Grammy Award, sell 100 million records, and be in every Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t compare to being a dad.”
Tomlin’s daughters have found their own personal hero in their father.
“Just the other night, my (4-year-old) daughter came to one of my concerts,” he said with pride. “Afterwards, she came up and said, ‘Dad you’re the greatest singer I’ve ever heard,’ and she’s 4. And that means more to me than anything.”
Another difference between God-fearing Chris Tomlin and most of the music industry is his strong Christian marriage. When asked about how he and his wife keep their relationship strong, he said, “Nothing emphasizes your own selfishness like marriage. It is (something) God puts on you to refine you like crazy and it exposes all your selfish ways.”
Throughout his career, Tomlin’s worship music has inspired the masses. Countless fans approach him and tell him their own testimonies of how his music helped them find Christ. But Tomlin said that one little boy’s story has stayed with him to this day.
“There was a very brave little boy who’s been going through a lot of brain cancer and all kind of things that a little boy should never have to go through. He has to put on this big mask and get in these MRI-type things, these scan-type things, around his brain,” Tomlin said.
“And he has to do that all the time and it’s frightening. And he said he always puts on his headphones and just listens to ‘Whom Shall I Fear, the God of Angel Armies.’ And you are thinking that you can be a little part of that little boy’s life in that way in his time of greatest fear.”
Tomlin’s devotion to his faith and to the souls of all those who listen to his music illustrates the type of man he is on and off the stage. Regardless of his success, his humility is evident. His example for young people and his willingness to accept God’s plan for his own life is inspirational, and his music nothing short of awe-inspiring.