LifeWay.com: Your new album, Reckless, is out. Talk to us about the first single, about the inspiration for that song.
Jeremy Camp: Recently the Lord's been doing a lot of stirring in my and my wife's heart. And it's basically the question, "Are you completely surrendering everything?" I think it's something we all could ask ourselves. Through that kind of journey of seeking the Lord, saying, "Okay, God, search me, try me, and see if there be any wicked way in me. Renew a steadfast spirit within me," [It] really birthed this whole concept.
I've been hearing a lot of people saying, "I want to be recklessly abandoned for the Lord." So, I looked up "reckless," the term, and it's doing something without regard [for] the consequences. And I'm like, "Okay, well, that's not really a great connotation." It's kind of negative.
Well, Paul was an amazing example of a guy who . . . you'd look at him and say, "He's a little bit crazy." I mean, he was shipwrecked. He was beaten. He was imprisoned. He was stoned in Lystra, and then he was [dragged] out of the city, and he was brought back in the city. And he said, "No matter what's going to happen to me, I'm going to preach the gospel."
How can Paul be so surrendered, so recklessly abandoned, saying, "God, I don't care. I'm going to serve You no matter what. I'm going to be obedient"? Well, in Acts 20:24 he says, "Nor do I count my life dear to myself, that I may finish this race with joy and the ministry that was set before me to testify of the gospel of the grace of God."
What stuck out to me was that part where he said, "I consider my life worth nothing." He wasn't saying, "I'm worthless." . . . He's saying, "My life's not my own. I've been crucified with Christ. I no longer live but it's Christ who lives in me." And what did Jesus say? You want to save your life? You have to lose it. Deny yourself, pick up your cross daily, and follow Me.
We live in a very "me" society, very narcissistic. "Hey, this is what I'm doing. Go follow your dreams. God bless me in what I want to do." [But] it's actually, "What do You want from me? I want to follow what You have because there's so much more joy and peace in the midst of that."
[For] Paul, the consequences weren't always good. But why did he have so much joy and so much peace? Because he realized his life wasn't his own. It was Christ's. And that, to me, is being reckless, saying, "Okay, no matter what, not my will but Your will be done, despite what happens."
LifeWay.com: Your goal in touring and sharing that with your fans - what do you want to get across to them through all that?
Jeremy Camp: My biggest desire is that . . . I don't want this to be like a cheerleader, [an] emotional thing, to spur you on. Because the thing is, we can't go by those emotions. "What is God's will for my life?" That can kind of be a selfish thing. [Jesus] says, Go into all the nations and preach the gospel to every creature. So whether it be [with] your friends, your family members, your co-workers, your schoolmates, whatever, make disciples. If you're a believer, grab some young believer under your wing and really pour into them. And [James] says pure and undefiled religion is this: take care of the widows and orphans. There are things that you can be doing because God calls us to.
But I think that it's very uncomfortable. It doesn't mean that, to be more spiritual, [we have] to sell everything and give it to the poor. Now if God tells you to, then do it. I've had a guy recently say, "I gave up my business. People are saying. 'You're crazy and kind of reckless to sell everything and go help an orphanage in Haiti.' But I have so much more peace and joy, because I know God was calling me to." He didn't do it just to do it.
You can be as crazy as you want, but you have to be saying, "Is this what You have, Lord? I'm being obedient to what You have, despite what's going to happen." And yeah, he's struggling financially to get this stuff going. But man, he has so much joy because he's really reaching out. It doesn't have to always look like that. Does it make you more spiritual? He just wants us to be obedient no matter what [God] has.
I do pray that encourages people, and then spurs them along. That's just my heart. I can get all excited and try to pump everyone up all I want. I'm only one person. If I can just spur along people here and there in each city and different places around the world, how much more powerful are those people at discipling, reaching out, taking care of people around them?
LifeWay.com: Talk to us about your plans for that, and who's going to be with you.
Jeremy Camp: This spring we're going out with the Rocking Worship Roadshow. And it's MercyMe, Kutless, Family Force 5, my boy Adam Cappa – who I've been discipling and he's awesome – Rhett Walker Band, Luminate, and Tedashi. We're doing 20 dates. Anyone who loves music is going to love the night because there are different styles, but the same message. We're all there to see how God uses us and the message [He has] given us for the night.
[In the] fall, same thing. I'm going to do a tour, my own tour. Summer is festivals and fairs, and we're going to do an outreach in Kurdistan and Ukraine – a full evangelistic outreach. There are some orphanages in the area that we're going to work with as well. That's going to be amazing. That's kind of a side thing right now. God is spurring some "going unto all the nations" thing for me. And [I'm] going to Japan in May. It's going to be an amazing year.
LifeWay.com: Do you work with Compassion?
Jeremy Camp: I do, but this is . . . going out and doing outreaches, working in the community like doing an event, work with some churches. I started a ministry called Speaking Loud in Ministries. It's a non-profit organization that allows us to go to these different countries, or even in the States, too, and do these evangelistic outreaches.
But the goal is to also work with the community as much as we can. Each area is going to look differently. We work with places where we know the church is, where we know the pastor. So it's very much like we know what's going on in the areas, not just like, well, pick this random place. It's people that have said, "Will you come and do an outreach?" Our people are hungry. They're hungry for the gospel.
And so I'm like, all right, let's do this. We've had some great support from people to say, "We want to help you go into this place and do this outreach." It's been two years since the [Japan] tsunami. People have almost [forgotten] that it is in devastation still, and people are still hurting big time. I'm hoping that in some small way God can use me just to encourage the people. I've been through suffering in my life as well. Not like that, but watching my wife go be with the Lord because of cancer was definitely . . . a challenging thing. A lot of people in Japan were saying, "Because you've had that suffering, people will actually listen more."
So, God ordained, and He knows what He's doing. Because at that point it was like, trust Me. Even 12 years later you're still going to use that that. You're going to be able to comfort others with what you've been comforted. In II Corinthians it says that.
I'm really excited. I think this is the next season of my life. I'll still do concerts and still go out, but I feel like God's opening doors for more of the outreach kind of ministry around the world.
LifeWay.com: Talking about sharing your experiences, that goes right into the book, I Still Believe. That's a book you released earlier, but you've added to it. Tell us a little bit about that, and why you decided to tell your story in that form, in a memoir.
Jeremy Camp: When I share my testimony, I share about what the Lord did. I went through suffering, and saw my wife go through that suffering, and then go be with the Lord. It did something to me. For one, it makes you go, "Oh, the hope of heaven. The hope of being with Jesus. Oh, the fact that this time here that we have can be short. What are we doing with our time?"
All these things spurred in me a real solidification of my faith. I was brought up in a Christian home. I knew a lot of stuff. I went to Bible college. But [the suffering] really made [it] sink deep in my heart. I knew that doing a deeper story, really sharing the depth of my life and what God has done, I knew it would be an encouragement, because we all go through hardships. . . . And God is faithful, and I wanted to share that experience.
And so I put out the book about a year ago, did it myself. And it was great, but I've never done a book before. And Tyndale came in and said, "We love this book, but we'd love for you to share even deeper and to even expand some more on some different things. And we'd love to put it out."
At first I was like, okay how do I go deeper than this? I felt like I laid my heart on the table. The crazy thing was, that really came out way better than I expected. It was a necessity, I believe, to the book to expand it and really go deeper, and to find out more of the depth of the story. I had someone help me draw those things out. I'm so thankful they did. They, of course, have been huge in getting it out there and making it more known. I'm very thankful for that, because I know it's going to minister to hearts, and I pray it does. But I've even heard stories from the first book. So to see what could happen from this is exciting. It's humbling, to say the least.
LifeWay.com: So there's probably something in there for anybody.
Jeremy Camp: Absolutely. The thing about the book is not just, oh, if you've gone through a very hard time that, then you read it. This is a story of faith in general, of your life and what Christ has done in general. It's a story of showing other circumstances that God took me through, and things that, I guarantee you, a majority of people have dealt with, and sharing that as well.
So it's not just sharing that one particular part of my life. It's sharing my whole life and things that God has taught me throughout the years. It's not like I've got to the place where I'm like, "Man, I've really arrived. I know what I'm doing. Let me write a book and tell everyone how to do this." It wasn't that, because I know that in 10 years I'll look back and go, "I need to expand this book because I've learned a lot." But I know that for me it's something that everyone can read and hopefully be encouraged.
LifeWay.com: Writing a book is very different than writing a song. Overwhelming. Challenging. Scary.
Jeremy Camp: Yeah, all that. It definitely was overwhelming. It was scary. It was challenging. But it was so good for me. I always tell people. "You should write a book about your life, because what you'll see is God's hand on your life from the beginning to this point." And I it builds up your faith because you're like, "Oh, Wow. Okay Lord, I see what You're doing." And that's kind of what it was. I saw even more of the big picture of everything. I don't see the whole picture. I won't see the whole picture until I get to heaven, the whole extent of everything. But . . . it built my faith. Writing this book was like, "Wow Lord, you really have been leading me and directing me my whole life.
LifeWay.com: In the day-to-day of life and ministry as you know it, what do you love most?
Jeremy Camp: I love people saying, "I've rededicated my life. I came to Christ. I was going through a hard time" . . . Just to hear what God's done has encouraged me so much. "I'm in the Word again. I'm in prayer again. I've drawn closer to the Lord." That right there is what I love.
People [say], "You have a great voice," or "You have this and that, great concert, great show." And it's like, cool. But honestly, that doesn't matter. I try to work hard with what I do . . . I put my heart and my soul into it. But the whole point of the night is if God is getting the glory, then it was done right. There's a Scripture, Isaiah 42:8, it says I am the Lord. That is My name. I will not share My glory with anyone else. That has been such a penetrating thing in my own heart to say, listen, this is Mine, Jeremy. This is Mine. And I give and I take away. And it's like yeah, You're right.
I don't want to build my little empire here, because it's not mine. This is God's thing. We're here to build His kingdom and that's it. I don't want to be in the way. I want to get out of the way and just be that vessel. It's like, "Okay, God. Flow through me." It's a challenge, definitely. But I feel like I have grown, and I'll continue to grow the rest of my life. And pray that God continues to use it.
LifeWay.com: How is your family? what are your kids teaching you?
Jeremy Camp: My family's amazing. I have three kids now. The neat thing about having children is that you understand more of the heart of the Father. My daughter, the other day, said, "Daddy (she's eight years old), is there anything I can do to make you happy?" And I was like, "No, Baby, you don't have to, I love you. I'm proud of you. You don't have to do anything to make me happy." She was like, "Can I sew something?" She'd never sewn anything . . . But she was just so excited about doing something to make me happy.
God really spoke to my heart and made me understand the depth of His love. Sometimes, we don't understand that neither height nor depth or anything can separate us from the love of God, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Basically there's a depth of His love that we'll never comprehend. He knows that deepest, darkest pit of our heart, but He still loves us. That's huge.
The whole thing is that we don't have to earn the favor of God. It's not like we have to say, "God, are you okay? Are you happy with me?" It's not that. Once we give our life to Christ, we said, "Forgive me. I repent. Jesus come, in my life and forgive me." we have that favor because of what Christ has done, not because of us.
But He loves that heart. And I love that heart of my daughter, because she knows how much I love her. And she loves me so much that she said, "Dad, what can I do for you?" And I want that for my life. That's even what the Reckless thing's about. God, what can I do for you? . . . What do you want me to do, because I love You, because You love me?" . . . That's what allows us to have that freedom and that joy to go and say, "God, I'm willing." . . . We're out there on His favor, but He loves the heart of us saying, "God, I just want to please You because I love You."
LifeWay.com: How do you juggle two lives – one when you're on the road, and then coming home and being not Jeremy Camp the Christian artist but Jeremy Camp the husband and the father? Other artists have said when they come off the it takes a while for them to acclimate back into home life.
Jeremy Camp: For one, I have an amazing wife. I always try to encourage the wives, if we're in a setting with my wife and with another couple, saying, "Listen, it's all about support of your wife." When you come home, if they're like, "Okay, you've been gone. Now do this," it doesn't work well like that. When you're on the road, it's very demanding, and you're not sleeping. You're giving out so much. I think there has to be that grace period, and my wife is very gracious . . . I'm not "Jeremy Camp" at home. I've got enough people in my life [who] keep me accountable.
It is a challenge, but I think it's how the family works together and how you communicate . . . She communicates with the girls, "Daddy got home late." And they're great. They don't come and try to jump on me at 6:00 in the morning.
You don't come in and interrupt everything. You come in and just join in what's already gone on. My wife's just doing what she's doing, raising the kids. I come alongside of what my wife's doing. They know that daddy comes home, and it's sweet. It's very sweet.
It's not like a thing where I'm always gone . . . They'll come with me on the road as well. If I'm gone for too long, they come out and stay on the bus, and we hang out together. So that's another way we do that.