Christian Living


Hello, My Name Is: Matthew West's "Anti Self-Help" Book

Matthew West walks toward you, acoustic guitar slung over his back. You're meeting for the first time backstage at one of his concerts. He smiles and says, "Hello, my name is Matthew West…and I'm a child of the one true King."

Well, it might not go exactly like that, but it's possible. He could also add husband, father to two lovely daughters (Lulu and Delaney), and Christian music artist to his introduction.

But to really get to know this beloved singer/songwriter, who's won the hearts of CCM fans with radio hits such as "More", "My Own Little World", and "Forgiveness", you'd need to grab a copy of his latest book, Hello, My Name Is.

Recently, West sat down with CBN.com to give us a taste of what readers can expect from his self-proclaimed "anti self-help" book, how writing it changed him, and the childhood labels he had to let go of to fully discover his identity in His Savior, Jesus Christ. Here are excerpts from that conversation:

CCM artist Matthew West on what it means to release Hello, My Name Is

Matthew West: It's my heart on a page and really surprisingly as much so as any song I've ever written. I do feel like I got a chance to share beyond the confines of a three-minute song.

I'm excited about it, for the reader to be able to get a little more of a glimpse inside of my own personal story, my own journey of faith. I draw a lot of inspiration from each chapter from my own story, experiences I've had, so I think people are going to enjoy that, and then also sharing just powerful stories of people's lives and their own search for identity. I'm really excited about what people are going to find in these pages.

It's not an autobiography and it's not a memoir, but it very much is a gathering of the last several years of my life and what I've been through in my personal life, what I've experienced in the stories of other people's lives. This book has created that perfect storm dwelling place for all these stories to be told, and to see how really a lot of them have a common thread of a search for identity, and a search to find out, 'Who am I? Why am I here? What makes me special? Should I believe what the world says about me?'

On how personal "The Story of Your Life" singer/songwriter gets in his new book…

West: In writing a book about identity, I found myself digging back through the earlier pages on the story of my life and being surprised how some of the residue of old names still existed on my nametag and in my life, and how I've allowed certain words or influences to impact me even as an adult.

I was overweight as a kid. That has constantly made me feel like I'm just very self-conscious, very insecure about my appearance, which sounds so lame even when I speak it out loud, but it's the truth. I wanted to write the truth in my book about my own struggles with who am I or mistakes that I've made and how the devil's maybe made me believe that how could God love me, that I've maybe abused His gift of grace too many times.

I don't want to be the person who writes a book always pointing outward and I don't want to do that with my songs either. To be authentic, I've got to draw from within and look within and say, 'OK, here's what I'm going through or here's what I've been through, or here's names I've believed about myself'. That was my jumping off place for many of the themes of this book. It's just my own life story.

On how letting go of old labels ("nametags") isn't a one-time thing…

West: The Bible says we are all born broken. We're all born sinners in need of Christ. So we're born wounded in need of healing that only comes from Jesus and I think it's a daily process.

What do you with your junk? Do you sweep it under the rug? Do you hide it away in the closet or do you bring it out into the light and place it into the hands of a healing Savior, who's in the business of junkyards? That's what it is. God's in the junkyard business. He reaches out into our junkyards even when we try to hide them and says, 'that's the part of your life I'm ready to heal. I can even heal the most wounded part of you'. When we take that step towards healing, that's when our nametags begin to take on a different look.

On how these revelations have helped him as a father of two daughters…

West: I'm on a mission to tell my kids how incredible they are, to do what my parents did for me, just to let them know I'm in their corner. I believe in them. I know when they step outside the house there's going to be a million voices telling them they're not enough. So as long as they're within the four walls of my house, they're going to feel like superheroes. I can't shower enough love on my kids. That's truly a motivation for my wife and I now. And I have to say those stories I've read have contributed to that motivation.

I'm not going to be perfect as a dad or as a husband. Perfection cannot be the goal. Authentic needs to be the goal. I want my kids to see someone who's not perfect, but who's maybe quick to say he's sorry and someone who builds them up more than he tears them down. I hope they'll be able to look back and go, 'Man, my dad never said a negative thing to me. He built me up.' That is my goal.

On what West learned through writing this new book…

West: A big part of the book is about looking outside of ourselves. Much of [Hello, My Name Is] is dedicated to, 'Hey, you want to figure out who you are? Stop looking within because the answers aren't there.'

We didn't create us. So it really starts there, by resetting our focus and going, 'OK, you know what, if I want to figure out who I am, why I tick, what I'm made for, maybe I should start by looking at who I belong to.' You can't find out about who you are until you discover whose you are. I need that reminder.

The Lord used this process to help me dig into Scripture more. That's a struggle for me, to get up every day and read my Bible with excitement and to read it like I'm reading it for the first time. Man, when you're writing a book about identity, poring through Scripture…. I started learning more about God's identity first. I felt like He was showing me, 'Don't think you're going to write a book about your identity or helping people find their identity without digging into my identity first. Let me show you who I am. Let's start there.'

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