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20 Rich Mullins Quotes to Think about Today

20 Rich Mullins Quotes to Think about Today

If you’re of a certain generation, you probably grew up singing Rich Mullins’ song “Awesome God” in church. If you’re younger, you may know him from the biopic Ragamuffin or the multiple documentaries about his life. However you discovered Mullins or his work, you probably have strong memories about how distinct it was. In a time when Contemporary Christian Music had a particular sound, Mullins went for something more instrumental, paired with thought-provoking lyrics. In interviews, he didn’t mind critiquing the Christian music industry, reminding people that there were more important things than selling out concerts.

He was different, like someone out of another time. In the Mullins biography An Arrow Pointed to Heaven, Lynn Prescott observed, “he would best be compared to a medieval troubadour/poet; he was largely a medievalist and not a renaissance man; he was a poet, pure and simple and as changing as the tides…”

Mullins’ willingness to be different, to get past the glamour and focus on what really matters, shows in his many interviews, conversations, and occasional articles. Here are some of the most interesting Rich Mullins quotes about life and faith.

Rich Mullins Quotes about God

“It is possible that He loved lilies because He is love and that He feeds sparrows for the same reason. It is possible that the evidence of His divinity lies in that love—that in light of love, miracles seem sort of unremarkable. If God can love, the rest will follow.”— “Considering the Lilies,” republished in The World As I Remember It

“God is always going to be bigger than what we imagine Him to be. God is always going to be bigger than what we understand Him to be.” — 1997 radio interview with Dick Staub

“I think, in the history of mankind, there has been one really terrifically significant question. And it’s a question that actually is a very theological question. And I think the first person to ask that question was God. God said to Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” Which is kind of another way maybe of saying, “Who are you? What are you all about? What are you doing?” And I think people have had to ask themselves that ever since.” — 1989 message for Christ in Youth

“Part of the truth in the Christian faith, is that people are made in the image of God and that they are loved by Him. And if that is true, you cannot love God and treat people with contempt at the same time.” — interview with David Yonke, published 1995 in Toledo Blade

“I think I would rather live on the verge of falling, and let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God, than to live in some kind of pietistic illusion of moral excellence. Not that I don’t want to be morally excellent, but my faith isn’t in the idea that I am more moral than anybody else. My faith is in the idea that God and his love are great than whatever sins any of us commit.” — archived TV interview, broadcast at 1997 Light Music Tribute

Rich Mullins Quotes about the Christian Life

“Be God’s.” – Mullins’ signature phrase when he wrote autographs

“I am a Christian, not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me, but because there were people who were willing to be nuts and bolts, who through their explanation of it, held it together so that I could experience it and be compelled by it to obey. ‘If I be lifted up,’ Jesus said, ‘I will draw all men unto me.’” — “Telling the Joke,” republished in The World As I Remember It

“Proof-texting is a very, very dangerous thing. I think if we were given the Scriptures, it was not so that we could prove that we were right about everything. If we were given the Scriptures, it was to humble us into realizing that God is right, and the rest of us are just guessing.” — comments to the audience, 1997 concert in Lufkin, Texas

“Several years ago, I got to go to Asia for the summer. It was a great opportunity for me to see Christianity from a non-20th-century-American slant. That experience confirmed the truth of the essence of Christianity, and it challenged my opinions about peripheral issues.” — interview with Mike Nappa, published in 1998 in Group

“…I think our real doctrine is doctrine that is borne out in our character. I think you can profess the Apostles’ Creed until Jesus returns, but if you don’t love somebody you never were a Christian.” — quoted in Soul 2 Soul by Christopher Lee Coppernoll

“A lot of times when we look at people we admire spiritually, we think they have arrived at this place where they cease to be tempted. The reality is, our faith may grow stronger over time, but the temptations never go away. It is hard for me to imagine that I will still feel tempted at 60, but when I was 20 I couldn’t imagine I would feel such strong temptation as I do at almost 40.” — interview with Jim Long, published 1994 in Campus Life

“What I’m learning is that my job is to love people—and sometimes that means I have to confront them, and sometimes that means, you know, that whole tough love thing. But the deal is I have to love you whether or not that changes you.” — 1995 radio interview with John J. Thompson

Rich Mullins Quotes about Christian Entertainment

“I hope that you have the opportunity to write something that people are going to read. I hope that you can start thinking about writing more stuff that has something to do with something. That’s always a challenge, because it’s always a little bit scary. If you say something meaningful you’re very likely to turn people off. Let’s face it—we all have to sell product. But I would just like to encourage you to realize, also, that at some point, there isn’t going to be any more product to sell. Someday we’re all going to be dead and the amount of product we sold is not going to be all that important.” — “A Message to the Media,” distributed at Creation 1996 Festival

“But the thing is that sometimes, I think, that when you become too conscientious about being a songwriter, the message becomes a vehicle for the medium. This is a temptation that I think all songwriters have. I think a great songwriter is someone who is able to take a very meaningful piece of wisdom - or of folly or whatever - and say it in a way that is most likely to make people respond. But, what you want them to respond to is not how cleverly you did that; what you want them to respond to is your message.” — interview with Brent Waters, published 1996 in Lighthouse Electronic Magazine

“I think that a lot of people want the Christian music industry to be an evangelistic or nurturing thing. People are looking at the Christian music industry and saying, ‘Feed us! Convert us! Make us what we want to be!’ And that is not the job of any industry. That’s the job of the church. We need to realize that it is wonderful to have songs to listen to while we are doing the housework or driving the car that are going to be positive and uplifting. I don’t really listen to Christian music.” — interview with Brian Smith, published in 1986 in the Cross Examiner

“I think people are people. An exceptional plumber is as exceptional as an exceptional musician. I don’t buy the idea that musicians are a unique breed of people who need to be pampered. I tell them, ‘You know what? I get to make a living doing what I love to do. Isn’t that favor enough?’” — interview with Kim Benson, published 1993 in Rejoice!

“I don’t know if I’m afraid of success; I might be… I tend to think success is overrated, that it’s something everybody goes after until they get it, then nobody knows what to do with it. Your life speaks louder than your music... I can make records for the rest of my life and talk about love, but it won’t mean anything until I love somebody.”—interview with Lou Carlozo, published 1996 in the Chicago Tribune

Rich Mullins Quotes about What Really Matters

“I think the world matures, instead of moves; I don’t think there is such a thing as progress. I think it’s going to be the same muddled mess until the very end. There will be moments of glory and moments of despair. I think we’re in the death throes of the enlightenment... The Information Age is the gasp of a dying era, and we’ll be better off when it’s gone - if you can be better off...” — interview with Jim Long, published 1997 in CCM Magazine

“I think we cry at funerals—even at funerals of people we don’t like—because we realize what a miracle life is. You realize, ‘This will never happen again.’ There will never be this exact combination of genres, there will never again by the things that have created this person to be what he is. God has spoken uniquely here, and it’s gone. It’s over. And think there’s some regret, because we all realize, boy, we didn’t pay enough attention.” — archived TV interview, rebroadcast at 1997 Light Music Tribute

“I have failed enough that I’ve learned that it’s not the end of the world to make mistakes… every morning the sun comes up anyway. I think when you stop being afraid of failing, you become a lot more free.” — 1992 TV interview with Sheila Walsh (republished in In the Middle of the Mess)

5 Inspiring Books about Rich Mullins

If you’re interested in learning more about Rich Mullins’ ideas and life, here are some great books to start with.

1. The World As I Remember It by Rich Mullins. A collection of columns that Mullins wrote for Release magazine about his experiences and spiritual life.

2. An Arrow Pointing to Heaven by James Bryan Smith. This “devotional biography” tells the story of Mullins’ life, organized conceptually to look at Mullins’ most passionate beliefs and themes.

3. Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith. An homage to C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, this novel features a fictionalized Smith having a spiritual experience where he meets deceased people who influenced his life. One of them is a musician named Wayne (Mullins’ middle name), who talks with the Smith character about grieving when someone goes before their loved ones are ready.

4. Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth edited by Andy Greer and Randy Cox. A collection of reflections on Mullins’ life by old friends, combined with unpublished lyrics and snippets from his writings.

5. Meeting Rich by Caleb J. Kruse. During the last three weeks of his life, Mullins stayed with the Kruse family in Elgin, Illinois. Caleb J. Kruse reflects on what it was like being a teenager and meeting one of the most acclaimed Christian musicians ever.

(This section is excerpted from “What You Should Know about Rich Mullins” by G. Connor Salter)

Further Reading:

Remembering the Influential Life of Rich Mullins

Remembering Rich Mullins

Film Based on Rich Mullins' Life Explores "Homeless" Christian Hearts

We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are

Reading, Writing, and Music: A Conversation with Andrew Peterson

Photo Credit: Graphic by G. Connor Salter. Background by Unsplash/Kiwihug

Connor SalterG. Connor Salter is a writer and editor, with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing from Taylor University. In 2020, he won First Prize for Best Feature Story in a regional contest by the Colorado Press Association Network. He has contributed over 1,200 articles to various publications, including interviews for Christian Communicator and book reviews for The Evangelical Church Library Association. Find out more about his work here.