A Conversation with Rebecca St. James

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Growthtrac interviewed Rebecca St. James, recording artist and author of the book, Wait for Me. Her latest musical release is a live worship album entitled, Worship Live: Blessed Be Your Name.

Rebecca, it seems that just about every artist today is releasing a worship album. What prompted you to make one?

I actually began making praise and worship music when I was thirteen. The first album I recorded was completely dedicated to worship. Every album since has had elements of worship, because that’s so my heartbeat. Really, a lot of my writing is very vertical in nature.

Over the last ten years that I’ve been doing music I knew, in the back of my mind, that I wanted to dedicate a whole album, again, to worship. And so it’s just been a very natural thing.

I notice that you wrote several of the songs on the album. How was the experience of writing songs specifically for worship different than when you write a song for more of a performance-oriented album?

Worship songs come very naturally, I think. The songs that are on that album, I think, most of them happened pretty quickly. “Lamb of God” was one of the songs. The verses on that song literally came in about half an hour. Right before we were about to record it. I had the chorus for a little while, but the verses came very quickly. The song was completed in a very short time.

A lot of us mostly experience worship in the context of our churches. When you’re writing a worship song, do you ever try to keep in mind that you want to write something that the average person, in a pew somewhere, can sing?

When I’m writing a worship song, I’m trying to keep it pretty simple — the melody pretty simple, you know the words easily singable. Because I am trying to picture people of all ages singing that in a church setting. Actually a dream of mine, something that I hope is a result of my life, is that I might have a song that lives on beyond my own lifetime and is used in the church. It’s kind of a dream that I hope God does fulfill in my calling.

What role would you say that worship has played in your life on a personal level?

I think worship is something, in some ways, it’s broad because it’s not just “songs”. I think you can worship God through the way you live your life and the decisions that you make and the things that you say and the way you reach out to people. And you can worship God through a song as well.

I really want my life to be worship. That is a passion of mine — that God might smile on my life in delight.

You’ve been an outspoken advocate for abstinence until marriage and your book, “Wait for Me”, has inspired many people. What impact do you hope your efforts will have in that area?

I want that every young person or single person that hears my message of saving sex for marriage, whether it be through hearing me on stage talking about it or through my song or through my book, I hope that they’ll be encouraged to wait.

Whether they have waited and they need encouragement to continue strong or whether they need encouragement to ask for God’s forgiveness and wait from now on, whether they might be divorced and freshly single again and need that encouragement to stay pure for now.

I hope that it draws people to God’s way. There’s such freedom in God’s way. A lot of people think that the Bible’s a bunch of rules and stipulations and do’s and don’ts, but in fact it’s boundaries that are made for our good and for our freedom — freedom within those boundaries. They create joy and life and hope within us.

I just so encourage people to live God’s way. It’s a regret-free life. I’m a 26-year-old virgin. It’s possible.

Why do you think it’s so difficult for people today to practice abstinence before marriage?

I think one of the biggest factors is that there is so much pressure. Our culture is carried through so many messages, through a lot of music, TV and movies today that promote promiscuity.

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Even Christian young people, at church or youth groups, might hear about purity, but the rest of the week, if they’re watching junk, they’re getting opposite messages and they’re being sold this lie that you can do whatever you want with whomever at whatever point and just please yourself and if it feels good do it. But what they’re not seeing is the consequences and so much of our culture today is not talking about the consequences.

I’ve met with young people who have sobbed telling me how they wish they had waited. Young people who are raising babies alone at fifteen or sixteen. I’ve talked to people who had STDs, that now they are married, they’re dealing with repercussions of their immorality before they were married.

STDs, AIDS, pregnancy outside of marriage, the guilt that comes from giving yourself to someone when you’re not within the bounds of marriage — these are things that are not spoken about. So I encourage people to go God’s way, because it’s the best.

Obviously, you’re a person just like anybody else who’s going to have some certain challenges and temptations of singleness. Do you have any type of accountability with any of the people you travel with or people at home, maybe, that you check in with?

Yes, I actually have about as good accountability as you can get on the road, because my family travels with me. My Dad’s my manager, my Mom does accounting on the road. I have five brothers and three of them are on the road doing merchandise and my sister as well.

It’s amazing because they know me so well. It helps to have a touch of home that comes with me, but then also if they see anything kind of out of line, I know that they will challenge that. So that’s a real blessing.

Then I have a mentor who lives down in Florida who was in Christian music about 25 years ago and so she really speaks into my life. I have a wonderful support system and I’m very blessed in that way.

As you minister to young people in this area, there are obviously some who have already slipped in the area of sexual purity. What do you say to them?

Whenever I talk about purity from the stage, or in my song, or in the book, I talk about second chances, because a lot of young people haven’t waited. What I tell young people is, “You don’t have to live in your sin or be bound by it any more. You can be free. You just need to go to God and ask for His forgiveness and commit to Him, with His strength, to move and to be new and made new in Him and kind of have a ?second virginity’.”

I’d have strong accountability, set very strong boundaries and only date people that believe the same as they do. That’s something that I’m living, too. Those things are very important to me.

If there was one piece of advise that you would give young men and women struggling with sexual purity, what would that be?

Guard your mind. Actually a girl came up to me last night and said, “How do you keep your mind from impurity?” She was really struggling with this. I said, “Watch what goes in, because what goes into your mind is going to stay there and float around and influence your actions.”

If we’re putting garbage in, it’s only going to damage us. I really don’t watch movies that have immorality in it. I really don’t watch TV, hardly at all, because most of it just is so depressing and so immoral.

Watching what I listen to, musically, too. A lot of people kind of have the mentality of “I don’t listen to the lyrics, I just listen to the music and enjoy the music, but whether we know it or not, the lyrics are affecting us and they subtly downplay standards that we hold and will affect our own standards. So just being very careful about your intake and then replacing it with the word of God. I think that’s very empowering as well.

Is there anything, in closing, that you’d like to share from your heart with our viewers?

I’d just love to share with everybody a verse that’s really impacted my life, 1 Corinthians 15:58. It says, “So my dear brothers and sisters, stand strong. Do not let anything change you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of our Lord Jesus, because you know your work in the Lord is not wasted.” That’s encouraged me many a time, so I hope it encourages those listening.

Copyright © 2004 Growthtrac.

She won’t accept this statement herself, but Rebecca St. James is today’s most loved and respected international Christian music artist. With diversity and depth, the Sydney, Australia native has made the globe her mission field since debuting in 1994 at age 16. Almost 10 years into the journey now, it’s remarkable to remember what has transpired and to consider what still may come in the life of this 26 year-old.

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