Steve Siler is a Dove-award winning songwriter and the founder and creative director of Music for the Soul, a ministry that has touched millions of lives and helped people to engage with the truth on difficult issues — from suicide to pornography to eating disorders — creatively using the power of songs and stories as a bridge to hope and healing.
For more than a dozen years, Steve has led conference sessions and spoken at church events around the country. His new book, Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart, is part memoir and part instruction manual on the ability of music to heal.
Steve and his wife reside in Kentucky.
In the first chapter of Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart: Lessons from a Life in Song (Music for the Soul, May 2016) you reference “a long and fascinating detour.” What was that detour?
Well, to go point by point… It was writing a tribute song for a baseball announcer which led to working with several legendary celebrities on a song for a charity that fights blindness which then led to writing a theme song for a Chippendale’s male strip club which then led to having my first pop dance single on the radio. Does that sound like the pathway to working in ministry and writing for Christian music to you?!
All of these events led to a powerful epiphany that I talk about in the book. In retrospect it’s as if God was waiting… waiting… waiting… for the right time. “Ok, now Steve is ready to hear my message for his life.” The mission statement for my life’s work came out of that epiphany.
And how did the book come about?
I feel a great responsibility to be a good steward of the resources God has blessed us to create because I’ve seen the difference they can make in people’s lives. So I met with an agent for a consultation about ways to get more attention for the ministry. He looked at all of our CDs, DVDs, and discussion guides spread out in front of him and said, “This is all great.” Then he turned to me and said, “Where is your book?”
My friends had been asking me to write a book for years, telling me that the stories I shared with them would be interesting to others. Because the ministry requires so much of my attention I always felt I didn’t have the time to write a book. What I understood after that meeting was that writing the book would be helpful in raising more awareness about the ministry and would result in our resources reaching and helping more people. So, I made a schedule and spent six hours a day, five days per week writing until it was done.
What’s the primary takeaway you hope to leave with your readers?
The answer is in the question! I hope to leave the readers with hope!!
Life is difficult. We’re all broken at one time or another. There are a lot of stories of wounded-ness in the book. But ultimately they are stories about an active God who renews us, transforms us, and heals us.
Because I’m a songwriter these stories are told through a musical lens. But whatever one’s path or one’s work, I believe God is active in the story. I hope the stories in this book will help readers be able to see and recognize God’s hand and miracles in their own lives. Additionally, I hope readers come away understanding and appreciating more deeply God’s gift of music because I think there is a rich blessing in it for them if they do.
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God will often also use our work to teach us something. What did you learn in the process of putting together the project?
This may seem like something I should have already known. I learned about God’s faithfulness.
Running a small not-for-profit ministry, a multitude of challenges fly at me every day. Often it seems I just go from one impossible thing to another. It can definitely be a “can’t see the forest for the trees” kind of thing. Writing the book allowed me to see a progression in the story that has not always been visible in the living of it. And what I could see clearly was God’s faithfulness. I could see the connective tissue. I could see the bigger picture.
So, if I learned anything it is that I can trust God. God is at work over the long haul and has the larger view in hand — the view that affects everybody, not just me or Music for the Soul.
Stories and/or parables are an integral part of both the Old and New Testaments. Is there a Bible story, parable, or passage that has been particularly important to you and/or describes your personal journey of faith?
Your question makes me think of Moses. After all his work and effort, and even though he had some successes, when all was said and done he didn’t get to set foot in the Promised Land.
I see a parallel as I experience the ministry journey of Music for the Soul. I truly believe there will come a day when the power of music to heal will be taken for granted. We are starting to see more and more brain science on this and more and more people and organizations are beginning to use music in creative ways to impact mental and emotional health.
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And Music for the Soul has had some successes. But what we do — even after fifteen years of ministry — is still characterized as “unique.” I’m not sure I’ll be around to see the power of a song routinely understood by the entire medical community as an integral part of healing. I’m not sure I’ll be around to see the whole church embrace “horizontal worship” (a concept I discuss in my book) as an integral part of congregational music. But I do believe that day will come.
Please understand I am only one of many who have been working in this area and so that is where the Moses analogy kind of falls apart. But still, I have thought of him often on this journey and wondered what I will get to see in my lifetime. The signs are more encouraging now than they have ever been.
By the way, I realize there are Biblical scholars who argue Moses was denied entrance into the Promised Land because some of his actions disobeyed God. But as my answer to your first question already attests, I’ve disobeyed God too.
What’s your next project?
Our next music project is for women and men who are carrying shame, guilt, and regret over an abortion decision in their past. Counselors who specialize in this field have told me this is the story for approximately one-third of those who sit in the pew on Sunday morning. How many more don’t come to church at all because they feel they would not be welcome?
Some of the songs express the pain and despair in honest, heart-rending terms. But the overall message of the project is that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ, and that one can be set free and healed from this pain.
I’ve had the privilege of working with over a dozen Christians who counsel on this issue, all of who have lived through it as a personal experience. With their input our writing team has been able to craft some songs that I believe, as one therapist said, “are sure to be a part of the healing process for many.” I pray so.
I was blessed to see how beautifully you handled this sensitive topic in your wonderful book The Road to Mercy. It is no coincidence that God reconnected us now!
We’re also working on some songs to encourage families that have adopted a child as well as some songs to encourage pastors. There are always more songs to write!
Thank you, Steve! It was great to meet you recently — and it’s nice to have you back at Divine Detour this week.
It was great to meet you, Kathy! Thank you for this opportunity.
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For more information about Steve Siler, visit his website or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
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