Jimmy Needham; a talented musician, loving husband, dedicated father, and more than all that- a true Christ follower, has shared with Sonoma Christian Home his thoughts on life, his past, and how God continues to move, change, and grow him.
SCH- Describe for us the point in your life when you first strummed a guitar and realized you were supposed to use it and your voice to stir the hearts of a generation and beckon them to the Lord.
JN- I started playing guitar as a ten year old. I was terrible but what kid doesn’t want to be a rock star? I had been singing long before that even. The two never met up in a real meaningful way until my junior year talent show at Tomball High School. I performed a song by Third Day called “Thief”. It was my first time to play my guitar and sing in front of anyone. I guess they liked it because I won Grand Champion that night. It was the first time I really was affirmed as a player and a singer. It wasn’t long after that I began writing my own music.
SCH- Each of your albums have such incredible, distinct vibes. Introduce us to whom your influences are musically and who your inspirations were growing up.
JN- It’s funny, but I have to segregate my influences into musical and lyrical. Musically speaking, I grew up listening to old soul artists like Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and folks like that. I love a lot of the modern pop folks, too; Adele, John Mayer, Michael Buble, etc. But when it comes to lyrics, I always key off of a different set of interests; Nichole Nordeman, Ross King, Derek Webb, Andrew Peterson… Most of them fall more into the folk catergory. I feel like my whole career has been trying to make the Maroon 5 pop music thing have the lyrical integrity of Bob Dylan and the gospel passion of Keith Green. Here’s hoping it’s working!
SCH- I can’t imagine that there is not one human being who, at one point in time, has not depended on the lyrics of a song to get them through a struggle in life. You know the one; the song that when the first chords are played over the speakers while you’re standing in any random place in the middle of anywhere, draw you back emotionally to another space and time. Would you share with us the rhyme and reason of what “that” song is and means for you?
JN- Music ministers. It’s just how God made it to be. It stirs the heart more than any spoken word can do. It puts a soundtrack behind our feelings. Because of that, it can be very useful to help people. I think of one song that has always done that for me over the years. It’s by Nichole Nordeman, “Small Enough”. Wow. Gets me every time.
SCH- Congratulations on the birth of your second baby girl! Tell us, since becoming a father, how has that changed the way you view life and, if it has, affected the way you approach your music?
JN- The first thing it’s done is make me not want to leave home anymore! I can’t be sure but I think I have the two cutest girls on the planet. The biggest change in me has been a much richer, deepened awareness of my need for God’s grace. That’s actually the reason why I wrote the song “If I Ever Needed Grace”. I know the road ahead of me is full of challenges I can’t face on my own (as if I ever could!) and I’ve become a much more dependent man on my God than before. Im grateful for that.
SCH- I believe that someone’s favorite Bible verse speaks volumes about the soul of a person. What is yours and what does it mean to you?
JN- Hard to narrow down, but I often find myself quoting John 6:35 “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” I am learning so much about Jesus, not just as Savior but as Satisfier. I have been challenged recently by this verse and others that the only way to truly conquer sin is to feast on Christ. No one who has stuffed themselves at a banquet will sneak into the pantry later to look for junk food. You get the idea.
SCH- Your music and lyrics are so beautifully convicting. My prayer is that they reach this generation and the next and that God uses them to transform lives. What do you see as the greatest change that needs to be made and the greatest sin that needs to be broken within young people these days?
JN- I think it’s the same problem that plagued the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Jeremiah 2:13 says “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, and they have hewn themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Our problem is the age-old problem that we refuse to find God satisfying. All of our sin issues ultimately boil down to this. Jesus says, “I can quench your soul’s thirst!” and we say, “I doubt it.” We run to every other well to drink; pornography, food, family, work, money, image, etc., but we will never be filled until we drink of the Living Water and feast on the Bread of Life.
SCH- Speaking of being broken, would you be willing to share with us a time in your life where God did just that for you? Completely rocked your core and broke you from a past and a sin to then breathe new life into your heart and soul?
JN- As a new believer in high school, I was really struggling with pornography addiction. Deeper than that, I was struggling to believe the gospel. Could God really love me with all of my grime and dirt? I often felt so distant from the love of God, and so shamed by my behavior, that I could barely speak to Him anymore.
One night after stumbling in sin again, I got on my knees in my bedroom and began to pray, perhaps for the last time. I told God in the darkness of that room that I was so ashamed of myself, that I felt as though I would never beat this addiction, and that I couldn’t imagine how He could be standing around me.
In that very instant, completely interrupting my prayer, I saw a vision. I saw myself kneeling there in my room, and right beside me, kneeling in the same position, was the Lord Jesus. He had His hand on my back. I saw this as plain as day for about five seconds and then it was gone. I was completely shattered. To think that the Holy God of the Universe, the blameless and pure Lamb of God could be in the same vicinity as me was utterly shocking. And to see Him in a position of comforting was even more so.
I wept sweet tears that night celebrating the idea of a God so good, condescending to care for a wretch like me. It gave me the encouragement I needed to continue to fight the battle against lust. Eventually, God freed me from the stronghold in college and it has been about eight years since I have gone back to porn to satisfy me.
SCH- Aside from supporting LoveManifest through the benefit concert coming up this weekend (www.lovemanifest.org), are you affiliated with any other non-profits or organizations that you’d like to shed light on and bring awareness to? Please, share your passion for what these people are bringing to the hurt and needy of our times.
JN- I partner with an organization called The Mocha Club (https://www.themochaclub.org/artists/jimmyneedham). They are invested in many projects throughout the world and I partner with them for one particular cause, namely, liberating women in Ethiopia from sex trade and prostitution. They call themselves The Mocha Club because they have created a way for you and I to have tremendous impact on the world for just $7 a month, or, the cost of forfeiting two mochas a month. Get it? I’m honored to work with them and hope you will check them out.
SCH- I have no doubt that God will be using you and all your gifts for years to come, but imagine if today was your last day, what words from your heart would you want the world to hear, remember, and have resonate within their souls?
JN- My message is the same thing that every saint has made their message for thousands of years. The gospel. I desire to deliver the good news of Jesus’ life for our sake, death in our place, and resurrection from the grave so that as many as possible will come to know and treasure Him. God made us to know Him, and though we reject Him in our life and actions, He has chosen to pursue us by giving up the greatest treasure He had, His Son. My goal is to help people embrace Jesus in faith, not just for their salvation, but also for their satisfaction.
Jimmy’s latest released album, Clear the Stage, is now available! Check it out! It will stir your heart from the bottom up.
Jimmy Needham is putting on a benefit concert for a Sonoma County based non-profit ministry called LoveManifest. It’s happening this Saturday, September 29th, at 7:30pm at Spring Hills Community Church 3700 Fulton Rd. Santa Rosa. Tickets are available at www.iTickets.com for $10 general admission and will be sold for $15 day of.
Please join us in what will be an incredible night of worship and praise to the only King that deserves it all.
Click the following link to learn more about the powerful ministry of LoveManifest and discover how God is using the willing hearts of many to greater His Kingdom.