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TobyMac's Fulfillment Comes Through Servitude

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TobyMac was just 19 when he came on the Christian music scene with the hip-hop/rock trio DC Talk. Many songs he wrote like “Jesus Freak” and “Luv is a Verb” became crossover hits, breaking into mainstream radio with a bold Christian message. He has since become a solo artist and is on tour with his 6th album, This is Not a Test.

Toby shared, “I want to be as transparent as I can be. Sometimes I think people think that, you know, when your music is coming from a Christian perspective that you're supposed to have all the answers and you're supposed to have it all together. But I think that day is long behind us. Like I don't have it all together. I don't have all the answers.”

As he admitted, “I'm a recovering perfectionist. I want things to be right. And sometimes I can drive people around me crazy. And sometimes it gets better and sometimes it doesn't. So now I kinda have a couple rules that help me to not be a perfectionist. One is: Does the song make you feel something? If the song makes you feel something, then it's good. And the second one is: does the song have a unique perspective? You can sing about love 100 times, but is there a unique look on love this time? Will people leave talking about that song, talking about the concept?”

After over 30 years of touring and working with artists like Lecrae, the Newsboys, Jamie Grace and others, he’s also learned the significance of collaboration.

“It's easy,” he said, “for people to overlook how much of a group effort putting out a record is, or writing a song can be. I need co-writers and co-producers and guys that help us put our show together and I definitely need a strong wife, and I have that, and I’m thankful for her. I've just found that I'm not a one-man show. There are people that have strengths that I don't have.”

And with six Grammy awards and over 11 million units in career sales, it’s obviously working.

He said, “I'm honored to be surrounded by guys that will tell me the truth about myself, the good, the bad, and the ugly. As a leader of an organization or a band or a tour, you could totally, you know, seclude yourself and stay away from people or you can be in people's lives and let them be in your lives. And that route, that path is harder. It's way harder. But it's richer. It's just pursuing it with passion and being willing to listen to other people and-and take your hands off of it when they're operating in their gifting.”

Toby would discover a higher calling when he lost his father in 2015.

“My dad was a driven man” he described. “He definitely taught me to push myself to be the best I could be. Keep your eye on what you're trying to pursue. Lock in and go hard. That's kinda how my dad raised me.”

While losing his dad was hard, it was the three years toby spent taking care of him that changed his life.

“Dementia is tough,” he shared. “It's tough to watch. Just to see a man that did everything I needed for me, all of a sudden I'm meeting his needs. I learned really what love was through caring for my dad. It's when you're in the trenches on behalf of someone else, it's the deepest love, and I'd never really been there. And I love my children. I love my wife. But there's a deeper love when you're doing everything for someone and they can't do it for themselves.”

In true TobyMac fashion, that experience inspired the lyrics to his latest song "Love Feels Like."

It also showed Toby what his life and music was about all along.

He said, “God made me to serve. Serving is the ultimate calling. It's the most – the most beautiful thing we can do. I've always viewed it as God breathed something through me to serve people. God breathed something through me in the form of a song to serve humankind. That's what I love about my job is the very people that I intended for this song to strike, to resonate with them and we're singing this song together. That is such a fulfilling moment as an artist. And then you use that moment, not to bring it into you, but to turn their eyes to the King. That's what I love to do.”

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