Todd Smith is a singer-songwriter and founding member of Selah, one of Christian music’s most beloved groups. Their nearly two-decade career boasts total sales surpassing 4 million album and single units combined; eight Gospel Music Association Dove Awards; and eight #1 singles.
Selah’s hits include such signature songs as “You Raise Me Up,” “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” and “Press On.” Smith is married to best-selling author and speaker Angie Smith and they are the parents of five daughters: 13-year-old twins Ellie and Abby; Kate (10); Audrey (with Jesus); and Charlotte (6).
As Smith releases his most current single, a proclamation titled “Calling All Fathers,” CCM Magazine wanted to take the opportunity to talk with him more about fatherhood, getting personal about his own admissions of parental flaws, and what the Smith family will be up to this Father’s Day.
CCM Magazine: You’re honest that your own shortcomings as a dad helped inspire the song. In what ways are you now being more intentional to heed the words of your song?
Todd Smith: Great question. I’m still trying to figure that out, but here are some practical things I’m working on:
Be a man of my word. If I make a promise, whether it’s big or small, I try to keep it.
Speak life. I want to intentionally tell my kids how much I love them and how proud I am of them. I have always done this, but I need to do it more.
Be in the moment. Sometimes, honestly, I just want to focus on things that are about me or important to me. I have to stop and tell myself, “Be in the moment, pay attention!”
Know them! I’m not a horrible checked-out husband and dad. I love and adore my wife and kids, but I need to work more on knowing their hearts more deeply.
Make them feel safe. One of the greatest ways for me to connect with my family is to make them feel safe. It creates an atmosphere for them to thrive and their trust in me grows.
Pay attention to their interests. I have had a harder time connecting with my daughter Ellie. I think it’s partly her age, but also my lack of interest in things that are important to her. I’ve noticed a change as I’ve shown more interest and asked questions about things she loves. I’m trying to make what she likes important to me.
Smile more. I simply try to smile and laugh more and not take myself so seriously.
Apologize. One of the most powerful things I can say to my daughters besides “I love you” is, “I’m sorry, I was wrong. Please forgive me.” My kids need to know I’m a sinner in need of grace. Hopefully, that helps teach them to take responsibility for their own actions as well.
CCM: How does being a God-guided father make a man a better leader in society?
TS: Sometimes when I read the Gospels and listen to Jesus’ teachings I think, “I don’t even know who this man is.” I’m saved, I believe He is God, but I am not emulating what He taught. I’m not living the way He said I should. When you start seeking the face of God you will naturally take on His attributes. Your character and heart turn from being inwardly focused to paying attention and desiring relationship with Him. It also makes us aware of one of the main reasons God created us—to love and serve others, and help equip them to be everything they have been called to be.
CCM: The message of the song is powerful, and as an artist, you also know the power of music. How do you think music helps elevate a lyric like this? Does it make the message more accessible?
TS: We have a huge responsibility as songwriters and artists to write Truth. Most people can’t remember what their pastor preached about two weeks ago, but a three-minute song can remain on their heart for a lifetime. Music always makes the message more accessible. I have sung messages about Jesus in public places where I would never have been allowed to preach. I have sung things to strangers I would never be comfortable saying to them without a relationship first.
1 Corinthians 4:15 (EXB) says, Even though you have 10,000 teachers, you do not have many fathers. That’s one the central messages of “Calling All Fathers.” If we men will stand up, committed to believing in the Word of God, confessing our sin, humbling ourselves and walking with authority in Jesus, what a witness that will be in our community—and world—and what an impact it will have on our families.
CCM: Father’s Day is just around the corner. How do you plan to celebrate the day with your family?
TS: Have all the ladies I love focus on me! We will hang at the pool. We won’t do a big meal, because I’m doing Nutrisystem with Selah. So far I’ve lost 30 pounds!
CCM: How has your own father impacted you as a dad?
TS: I have never doubted that my dad, Jim, loves me. He has always been proud of me. He loves Jesus and he has been faithful to my mom for 52 years. He is a risk-taker and a dreamer, and I get that from him. Recently, he asked me what things he could have done better as a father—what he needed to apologize for. I’m 43 years old and have never wanted to disappoint my dad or hurt his feelings, so I had never expressed any of these things until now. We talked for a couple of hours. He was gracious and humble and didn’t make excuses. He just took responsibility and apologized. That broke a huge barrier between us. I have so much respect for him and love him with all my heart! When my dad stands before God and has to give an account for showing his children how much he loved Jesus, God will say, “Well done.”