People want to love the projection of you. Then you mess it up by putting yourself into the equation. That’s why a lot of artists don’t speak out on politics, they don’t speak out on their feelings on a lot of things because they go, “Once I start putting that out there, it’s just more to disagree with.” I really respect Lecrae being in the situation he’s in when he’s like, “Black lives do matter. I am black. I should talk about this because I grew up on welfare. You know what, a lot of people are going to misunderstand why I’m saying something, but…” I was just listening to his record on the way here. His message is basically, “I’m not going to be a religious puppet anymore. You’re going to have to find somebody else to hang up.”
A lot of us are really willing to be a religious puppet if it means selling more records. The thing is, I would rather be rejected for who I actually am than be loved for the projection of myself that I’m giving to people. Now, I might be more successful, but I’ll also be so lonely. Even if I’m rejected for who I am, I’m actually less lonely because I know who I am. Then the people who do connect with me, often they can connect at an even deeper level and the friendship is even stronger.
CCM: Do your band mates also subscribe to those notions?
MD: We always question, “Are we doing a good job of being a safe place where people can actually be themselves?” It’s been really cool over the years to occasionally have other artists tell us, “Hey man, I’ve never been on a tour like this.” They don’t mean the biggest tour ever. We weren’t doing something overtly religious that sets us a part. It was just, “I just feel like you guys all really care about each other and you really create an atmosphere where we can just be ourselves. The crew seems to be just as important to you as the other bands.” To me, that is one of the highest praises I can get.
I know a lot of bands that are doing a lot of great stuff, but even internally, their employees feel like garbage. They don’t feel cared for. They don’t feel seen. I just believe that God would never call me to operate in an unhealthy way because I’m afraid He won’t take care of me in the future. That was the big crux when we decided this might be the last year of Tenth Avenue North. It was this commitment that I don’t believe God would ever call me to sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry, the altar of career, or on the altar of ego. Once I make that decision to go, “Hey, God, you can have the band back,” then I’m actually able to not worry.
I’ll say this, as well: I wrote a blog years ago called, “My Porn Clock” [READ], which was for a lot of guys whom I knew on the road that went down the road of pornography.
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