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Intersection of Life and Faith

Jami Smith - Desperately Needing God

  • 2000 3 Mar
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Jami Smith - Desperately Needing God



Jami Smith is a little different. At 29-years old, the female worship leader has taken a longer and more adventurous road. Yet she's the first to admit that she still hasn't arrived. For the last seven years, she's been on a spiritual and musical journey that has included working with more than a handful of ministries including {{Passion}}, YouthLink, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Hot Hearts, Super Summer, Youth Evangelism Conference, Baptist Student Ministries, Metro Bible studies, LifeWay events and others.

During this time -- which included seemingly endless miles on the road and too many frequent flyer miles to count -- she recorded six independent projects. But Vertical Music (with labelmates Darrell Evans and Lincoln Brewster) recognized there was something contagious about Jami's rough n' ready vocal strength and acoustically charged sound. They decided to capture her passionate desire for God's presence on a self-titled album. Since its fall release, the good word about {{Jami Smith}} has been leaking out. Her infectious sound waves can now be heard on a number of new albums. Jami's "Worship You" is recorded on {{WoW Worship}} (Orange) and "Needy" is listed on the roster of B.C./A.D.

"I really hope that my music is honest," she says. "And that the lyrics are vulnerable. I think it fosters an environment of people getting honest." One of her favorite songs, "Needy" was written after watching her younger brother leave for a two-year missions program. "I was sad watching him leave," she recalls. "It brought me to the realization that as much as we think we're in control of our lives, we're not. We desperately need God. The lyrics can really break people, because it's hard to sing. People don't want
to be that dependent, but when you get to that point, it's the best place to be."

Jami believes that worship has way of uncovering the hidden places of the heart. True worshippers are confronted with the fact that He is God and we are not. True worshippers leave with a sense of having spent time in God's presence. And true worshippers have the intentions of their hearts revealed.

In a recent Valentine's Day service, Jami watched a speaker draw a parallel between the way we give gifts and worship God. The speaker brought flowers to give someone. The person asked, "Why did you get me flowers?" With a big smile, the gift giver responded, "Out of obligation." The speaker explained how such a response will quickly end a date.

"It's the same thing in worship," Jami explains. "I bring my heart and time and attention (to God) and He asks, 'Why?' (And what if I answer), 'Because I'm supposed to?' Do I serve God out of obligation or because I love Him? So when I worship I picture myself with flowers in my hands and ask myself, 'Why are they there?'"

Jami believes that true worship emerges when we make God the sole focus. "We are best at worshipping when He is it," she says. "When we're not thinking about ourselves, our music, our event, our organization or what our ideal is. When we are humble to the fact that we don't matter anymore. When we're just seeing Him, not us. When we're not there anymore. When you're so much focused on Him and not you."

When these factors come into place, Jami says that many issues -- including gender -- fall to the wayside. "When you worship in a corporate setting (it shouldn't matter if) you're male or female or pretty or ugly or even singing in the right key for (a particular) voice, because all of the sudden you're in the presence of God and those things are no longer your focus, but the awesomeness of God is. The closer you become (to Him) you begin to realize that He's God and you're not. Then you begin to wonder if you're living in absolute surrender to Him. And only you and Him know that. And hopefully you walk out of the building thinking, 'I've been with God, and here are some things I need to work on.'"

Jami admits that God is always working on her. A career on the road isn't always easy and carries its own pitfalls. "You can be on the road and around people who think you're wonderful. Before too long, you get lost and aren't growing or grounded because you're not living in reality," she says. "You need to have people around you that are not impressed with you. (The people) on the road with me are not impressed with me for what I do. They care about me not as a singer or worship leader. They won't let me get away with mediocrity or being unethical. They push me to have integrity and be honest."

So what is the hardest thing about Jami's lifestyle? "Living out of a suitcase, being with strangers a lot on the road, not having a routine and (maintaining a proper) diet," she says. In response, Jami has set up several resolutions for this year.

"(One of) my new year's resolutions is to work out, and I've been feeling great. If you put on pounds, you don't feel good about yourself. I've been exercising four times a week on the treadmill, Stairmaster and other machines. I've (been slowing down enough) to pick up the guitar for the sheer pleasure of it. It's exciting when I'm home long enough for two or three days and just play for the enjoyment of it."

Another resolution is to spend less time on the road. "I went from 20 days on the road a month to 12. It was a decision I made last fall. I've been doing this for seven years and it just got more and more busy until it was just out of control. I don't think I'm going to be my best on the road if I'm that way, and I just want to give God and people my absolute best."

So in her down-time, she attends a woman's Bible study, plays racquetball, enjoys listening to live music and spends time with friends who aren't on the road with her. The brown-eyed, wide smiled, Oklahoma-native is a natural extrovert. "I love being with people," she says. "Some people are energized from being alone, but I'm energized from being with people. I love to get into good conversations about love and life. I'm very family oriented."

Speaking of love, Jami says she's "totally okay" with being unmarried. "I really enjoy what I do," she says. "I feel God is teaching me a lot through my singleness and to be a good messenger of that. It's okay to be 29 and single. Not to be 'Well, I've got God' or 'At least I'm a Christian.' God asks us to lose our lives for His sake. We need to be our everything -- whether we are married or not -- (for Him). I want to help other singles realize and recognize their potential."