NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next, an excerpt from tomorrow’s episode of Listening In. This week host Warren Smith talks with singer/songwriter Charles Billingsley. His career has spanned more than 30 years: Both as a member of the CCM group Newsong, and on his own as a solo artist. In this excerpt of their conversation, Billingsley offers some seasoned perspective on music as a ministry and a career.
WARREN SMITH: You know you’ve been in the Christian music business for a long time. You’ve been in church ministry for a long time. You’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I’m sure, as I have, you’ve seen a lot of people flame out, especially artists that are on the road a lot. They lose that connection to a local church. They lose the kind of connectedness to their family, just because they’re gone so much. How have you been able to maintain a faithful ministry, while doing the things that you have to do to maintain a successful career?
CHARLES BILLINGSLEY: Well, that’s an awesome question and it’s something I’ve had to find out and live the hard way, more than I am. As I told you, I was on the road for about 230 nights a year for a long time. And I came home one night and my wife was holding both of our little baby boys, they were 14 months apart.
One was one and one was two and a half. And she looked at me and she goes, “look, I can’t do this anymore. It’s either us or that.” And when she referred to my ministry as “that,” I just…I knew we had a problem. I knew my life was completely out of balance.
Ever since then, any role that I’ve had in a local church, to me, is a wonderful thing because it keeps me grounded. It keeps me tied, on staff, to accountability with a pastor. And at the same time, it gives my family a home base, and it allows us to plug into a family of believers. And it really grounds us and keeps us balanced in a sense that this thing doesn’t all become about me.
The problem with artists—and I’ve lived there and been there—is that, you know, if you’re not careful as an artist, the whole world revolves around you, your record, your release, your marketing plan, your—you know—your Instagram, your followers. How many can you get? Your radio play, and suddenly you look up and everything in your life is consumed with you.
And I just did not want to go to my grave with that as a memory for my family. I want to go to my grave, having been a part of a greater ministry that’s beyond my name, and my followers and my record sales.
EICHER: That’s Charles Billingsley talking to Warren Smith. To hear the complete conversation, look for Listening In tomorrow wherever you get your podcasts.