Conversation: David Crowder
In hopes of curtailing the number of fellow students at their college who did not attend church, David Crowder started a church in Waco, Texas, with a friend in 1996. Leading worship at the church, Crowder's search for worship music relevant to his generation led him to write his own. The David Crowder Band, now Dove Award winner and winner of MSN's Artist of the Year 2006, continues to produce Christ-centered rock/contemporary worship music. Recently, Crowder spoke with Jennifer McClure, assistant editor of Today's Pentecostal Evangel.
tpe: Were you ever pressured to be a certain person at church and someone else at school?
CROWDER: I don't necessarily think it had to do with the two environments being opposed to one another. It was more like at church I felt pressure to put on all the appearances of a Ògood ChristianÓ — say the right things, hold the right posture at the appropriate moments, have just the right amount of Scripture memorized. At school, I felt like I needed to put on all the appearances of a Òhip American studentÓ — say the right things, hold the right posture at the appropriate moments, have just the right amount of homework done.
I think the pressures are the same both places — pressure to be liked and accepted — which makes it rare for either environment to cause us to simply be who God has created us to be, uniquely ourselves. Instead, we fall into the trap of posturing or projecting what we think those around us will respond pleasingly toward.
tpe: How did your relationship with Christ influence how you dealt with all of that?
CROWDER: My relationship with Christ helped assure me there was something more, something bigger than what most people around me were living for — that life wasn't meant to be what I saw most of the time. That it was intended to be grander and less damaged and that following Christ meant I could step into that bigness here and now.
tpe: What kind of expectations did you live with in high school and how did you react to them?
CROWDER: Isn't part of the great high school experience built upon this overarching scheme of pressure and failure to live up to it? I mean, if not, what would we have to whine about and look forward to?
I believe a lot of what we go through in high school is exactly what awaits us afterwards. People just develop more socially acceptable ways of treating others cruelly.
I don't think it's a bad thing to want to succeed academically. And a lot of our response to pressure winds up with us confronting our motivations. For instance, I am pretty certain God is pleased when we attempt to use the gifts He's given us to the furthest end possible. So it follows that He should be rather pleased when we excel, scholastically speaking.
The problem is things get twisted when our purpose in succeeding academically becomes people's praise. But this happens after high school just as readily. In high school or in life, others' praise is a weak comfort.
tpe: How did your friends influence your decisions in high school? Any regrets as a result of some of those decisions?
CROWDER: Wow. Where to start. Well, there was this one time. It was a hot Texas afternoon. I had been swimming with friends, and if memory serves, my friend Bryan had become bored with submerging himself repeatedly in water and decided to grab a water hose, occasionally aiming it toward others. Then he got bored with that and began filling water balloons.
Then I guess that became boring, and I found myself holding one side of this enormous, heavy-duty balloon. Bryan and I staggered under the weight of it toward the street. A car was coming. We had no other viable option than to count to three and muster every ounce of energy our feeble selves could offer and toss said balloon filled with who knows how many gallons of water.
Time did that slow motion thing. My voice did the deep and drawn out, ÒOooohhhh, noooooooÓ as I watched the balloon flopping directly toward the oncoming car. It was to be a direct hit.
I wondered what the driver thought. This enormous cloud of yellow flopping toward him and landing. It hit the windshield, and the driver hit the brakes. The windshield shattered, and the driver found himself covered in glass and soaking wet.
It was the associate pastor of my church. He was understandably confused and angry, and I was paying for a windshield and interior repairs for what would be the rest of high school.
Consequences seem impossible to consider until they are upon you. A water balloon is an incredibly mild example.
Of course it could have been tragic. My pastor could have swerved and hit us or a telephone pole or tree. It's the same for all of the damaging situations we find ourselves in. Whether it's drugs or sex or alcohol or water balloons, consequences come. The difficulty is discovering the simple fulfillment of just swimming in a pool with our friends on a sunny day.
tpe: Had your friends been the opposite kind of influence of what they were, what kind of impact do you think that would have on who you are today?
CROWDER: My friends had, and would have had, an incredibly influential role on the consequences or the benefits and advantages I live with today. I think, though, that this question points to something that is part of our problem in dealing with the pressure of acceptance. Regardless of my choices and the influence my friends have on them, the reality of who I am, my identity, is the same.
Who I am today is the same 7-year-old kid who spoke a prayer out loud after hearing a purple puppet enunciate something really simple and profound at a camp meeting. I am a child of the living God. When God looks at me, He doesn't see my broken, damaged self and my inability to make good decisions. He sees His Son — His only Son who has covered me and is transforming me.
This is who we are. We need to live in that reality. It is when we are not living in that reality that consequences find us. We, of course, live in the consequences of others' decisions as well, but the reality of who we are in Christ is the same. And that changes everything.
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.