“You know, I’ve heard God write better”

Songwriter Joel Lindsey on his standard disclaimer to aspiring songwriters before he teaches at writing workshops:

For the sake of learning, we’re going to leave God out of the songwriting equation today — because if someone says “God gave me this song” who am I to argue??  I’m NOT going to tell God he doesn’t know how to effectively write a pre-chorus, are you?  People are well-meaning but so many Christians feel they need to mysticize the writing process or possibly roadblock any negative comments by claiming that God is the sole-writer and they’re just the vehicle.  I’m not saying that can’t happen, I’m just saying if God did indeed write the song I think he would know not to give away the hook in the second line of the first verse.  I think God gets blamed for an awful lot of bad songwriting.  To quote my friend Regie after being told God was the writer of a really bad song, “You know, I’ve heard God write better!”

You’ll wanna read the whole thing, especially the part near the end about form vs feeling.

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  1. The Gospel Stache wrote:

    This commentary is beautiful in so many ways. If that’s the case, God has written a lot of bad songs…but He never makes mistakes, so I’m sure He has a plan and a holy and perfect will within the lyrical content of those bad songs.

  2. Charles Brady wrote:

    *** Satirical Statement Warning***

    What always gets me is when God writes songs that contradict His own word.. I mean.. I thought He was the Lord and “changed not”…. And I still have yet to find one instance of God being registered at ASCAP SESAC or BMI ….

  3. Casual Observer wrote:

    This gets into that whole realm made popular by televangelists from which they claim to “have a word from The Lord” - maybe I’m missing something here, but I believe I have all the words from The Lord I’ll ever need…right there between Genesis and Revelation. I’m not questioning whether or not someone can have insight into a scripture as it relates to a present situation…I’m talking about those who take pride in delivering new knowledge or exclusive insight into the spiritual realm (or so they say). I believe most do so to boost their own reputations or feed their egos under the guise of piety. If they can position themselves as mouthpieces for God with hotlines to God’s will regarding any given matter, then they are empowered beyond that of us mere mortal pew dwellers…and we NEED them! The more indispensable they can convince us they are, the more we’ll continue to prop up their “ministries.” Ultimately we’re made to believe that…to question THEM is to question GOD. To GIVE to them is to GIVE to God. Beware the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

  4. Bryce wrote:

    Cas, unfortunately you won’t find many here who will agree with you. This industry was built on the insufficiency of scripture. In fact, it’s part of what has kept it alive for so long.

  5. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    Amen, Bryce. Sola Scriptura.

  6. s.smith wrote:

    Joel is one of my all-time favorite writers, both of songs and blogs.

  7. cynical one wrote:

    Charles, maybe God doesn’t need the royalties? (tongue planted firmly in cheek)

  8. quartet-man wrote:

    I’ve known some songwriters who thought they WERE royalty. ;-)

  9. Bones wrote:

    No. 8, I know one. RH. But Jd used to say, you need to give that song back.

  10. DD wrote:

    I have often thought at some of these events of telling the songwriter, “God just called me and he wants his song back.”

  11. Lovelife wrote:

    Reminds me of church camp. WE had a really good looking, single evangelist and a young lady told him “God told me I was going to marry you.” He responded “well, he hasn’t told me, so until he does, I ain’t”…
    just sharing.

  12. cynical one wrote:

    #11 — Lovelife — Your story reminds me of the year, at the Christian college I attended, 3 different young ladies expressed the same “God told me I was going to marry you” moment about the same ministerial student.

    We really have to be careful telling “what God told us,” huh?

  13. gina wrote:

    cynical one - You are so right about being careful when proclaiming that God told you something. I remember several years ago hearing a well-known gospel singer saying from stage that the Lord had told him the child he and his wife were expecting would be a boy and that he would one day preach the Gospel. You guessed it; that little preaching boy turned out to be a girl! I haven’t seen that guy since then without remembering his “prophecy”.

  14. Jake wrote:

    #11 (Cynical One) — It wasn’t a Mormon college, was it? (j/k, tongue firmly planted against cheek). In certain pockets of people with particular theological views, your story could have some fact to it.

  15. cynical one wrote:

    Gina, we have a friend who’s claimed to have the gift of prophecy. Twice she’s told my daughter she was pregnant, and she wasn’t.

    Jake, no, but it was a mainline evangelical church school in the midwest.

  16. quartet-man wrote:

    #15 Your daughter or the lady? ;-)

  17. cynical one wrote:

    My daughter. Glad I could clarify. The rule of grammar is that the pronoun connects with the noun directly preceeding. Several of us here could use grammar lessons.

    But my grammar passed away 5 years ago. ;-)

  18. quartet-man wrote:

    #16, just messin’ with ya. :-)

  19. quartet-man wrote:

    Sorry, #17. BTW, we don’t need no grammar lessons. We ain’t got no use for such a thing. ;-)

  20. cynical one wrote:

    #19 — I’ve noticed that. ;-)

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