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Todd Ballard: DEFINING SUCCESS GOD’S WAY

Lindsay Williams

Imagine working on hit songs recorded by Big Time Rush, B.o.B, Cobra Starship, Elliott Yamin, and Madonna. After Todd Ballard befriended producer Justin Franks, better known as DJ Frank E, they began co-writing songs that were recorded by an array of top mainstream artists. But Todd wrestled with a growing discomfort about working in secular music. He had little control over how his songs were used, and the final results didn’t always align with his moral convictions. So in spite of a nagging desire to make a name for himself, Todd walked away from the glamorous world of mainstream music, budding fame, and financial success.

Todd Ballard candid2 Ftr

Before working with Frank E, Todd helped found Red Rocks Church in Golden, Colorado, one of the fastest growing churches in the country. He was also on staff as a worship leader. When he left mainstream music, he knew that God was calling him to write music and to lead worship, but he couldn’t shake his desire for stardom. “The internal struggle never really goes away because we all want fame and notoriety,” Todd admits. “That’s not what God created me to do. I was created to lead people in worship.”

The turning point for Todd came during a worship service in which members of the congregation were asked to write down something they needed to surrender. In that moment, Todd came face to face with his professional aspirations. “I was like, ‘I can’t keep doing this. You know I love you. You know I’ll sing for you till the end of my life. My flesh wants to be a star. It just does. I’ve got to let go of it.’ And so I wrote it down and walked away,” he says.

 

Your Will, Not Mine

Todd Ballard candid1-2Today, Todd defines success differently. He’s learned first-hand that the world’s definition of success is not the same as God’s. He believes that the sum of small moments of obedience is a life of surrender. It’s not easy; it means “constantly saying every day, ‘I’m surrendering my desires and my will for your will, God.’” For Todd, staying in the center of God’s will eventually meant quitting his job as a worship leader at Red Rocks and pursuing Christian music full-time. He recently released his first album, Anthems, filled with songs of praise.

Even a Christian musician is pressured to succeed—radio play, record sales, a packed touring schedule. For Todd, success has become less about being No. 1 on the charts and more about setting priorities, putting God and his family above his career. Although he still wrestles with wanting what the world says he needs, he considers himself successful. “Maybe I didn’t make it the way society thought I would make it,” he says. “But for eighteen years, I’ve held a career singing for Jesus and the bills are paid. I don’t know if I could make it much better.”

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DIG DEEPER

Todd knows how it feels to be pressured by peers, culture, or even well-meaning friends. He offers you these words of advice:

+  “Be yourself, always. Never sway from what you know is right because of what somebody else does.”
+  “Do what makes you happy. Finances help sustain you in this world, but they do not bring you peace.”
+  Remember that God loves you exactly as you are. God “knows your flaws; and yet, you’re his favorite kid.”

Reflect on Todd’s turning point. What desire do you need to surrender? Trust God’s dreams for you, and let it go.

 

Lindsay Williams , a former editor of CCM Magazine, is currently a freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves writing about Christian music and blogs at www.thesoundopinion.com.

—from devozine (May/June 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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