Hello My Name Is…
Whether it is with a small group of friends or in a large group setting, sharing our story with others can be an intimidating experience. But it is often through sharing our story that others are encouraged and motivated to get help if they are in a similar situation. Matthew West was inspired by fans who have shared their emotional stories with him that he decided to write a book titled, Hello My Name Is: Discover Your True Identity. In his book, West focuses on our true God-given identity versus false nametags/self-perceptions including lonely, failure, insecure, pretender, unwanted, and unqualified. West encourages readers that even if they don’t like who they are, where they have been, or damaging words have been spoken to them, they can discover the truth of whose they are and pursue God’s will in their life.
West is a four-time GRAMMY® nominee, and has received a Dove Award, an American Music Award, a Billboard Music Award and was named Billboard’s Hot Christian Songwriter of the Year. He has had collaborated with artists including Rascal Flatts, Scotty McCreery, Billy Ray Cyrus, Casting Crowns, and Michael W. Smith, to name a few. Risen interviewed Matthew West in 2016 and talked to him about collaborating with other artists and how he connects with his fans.
West has collaborated with Vince Gill, Rascal Flatts, Mandisa and Casting Crowns. He shared his favorite part about working with others:
“After I graduated from college I moved to Nashville basically to begin my career. However, my first opportunity was actually as a songwriter. It has been interesting to write for and collaborate with other artists for their music. I always thought I would just be writing my own music for my own records, but my first opportunity was the opposite-it was me behind the scenes writing music for other singers. That’s how my career started, but learning the art of collaboration. I had songs recorded by other artists while I still pursued making my own music. It’s a different experience creatively, but it’s become a really fulfilling journey for me where I get to make my own records and have a creative statement that is uniquely mine, but then I also get to be a part of other artists’ careers and ministries and I get to help them shape their voice in the world as well. It was sort of a surprise element of my career, but one where I began to realize that God has bigger plans that I might even be aware of so I should never really draw too distinct of lines deciding what my music is going to be or what kind of career I am going to have. I’ve enjoyed working with other artists and I think it’s made me better. I am in a weird season where one of my songs is on the charts and then a song I wrote for somebody else is on the charts – it’s kind of fun to see that happen.”
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.” Psalm 107:1-3
West shared with us how he connects with his fans including how they submit their stories through his website and how the stories inspire his music.
“It’s an idea I had several years ago to give others an opportunity and a safe place where they could share their stories. A place they could be honest and reminded their story is significant. I think a lot of people have been made to feel that their story doesn’t matter. So it’s been a unique journey to remind people that their story isn’t over and that their story could help somebody else. Reading people’s stories, and then watching those stories become songs has been a special part of my musical journey. I feel very much like a storyteller in the truest sense of the word. These days instead of telling my story through my music like I started out doing in college, I’m telling the story of other people’s lives. In doing so, I hope that we can all see a little bit of our own stories, and realize that even though we are all unique, we are not that different at all. We all have struggles, we all share that none of our stories are perfect, we are all in progress with stories that are currently being written, and we are all loved by the same God.”
Collaborate with others. It may be easier at times to work by ourselves. But great things can come out of working with others. Collaboration enables us to be able to bounce creative ideas off one another, give feedback, and even lend our skills to a project we might not have been able to be a part of had we worked alone. Pray and ask God to show you opportunities where you can use your gifts and talents to collaborate with others.
Share your story. God wants to use you, what you have been through and what you have learned to help others. If you haven’t done so before, pray and take time to write down how you came to Christ or an experience that was difficult where God helped you through it. Ask God to give you the words. Share it with a close friend or small group leader and ask them to give you feedback. Then pray about who God wants you to share it with. It could be a co-worker, group of students or friend.
Ask a friend to share their story. Often in life, it is easy to get just hang out with people. While it is fun to hang out, friendships grow deeper when we become vulnerable with one another. Take time this week to sit down with a friend, small group member or acquaintance at church to get to know them better. Ask them if you can grab coffee or a meal and share how you became Christians or what God is teaching you.
For more information about Matthew West’s book, click here: hellomynameisbook.com
To read our entire interview with Matthew West, click here.