Over the past 20 years, Skillet has sold millions of records and released seven albums. They have won a Billboard Music Award, several GMA Dove Awards and are Grammy-nominated. But before all of their success, John Cooper had the tough decision whether to follow his heart and the calling he felt by God to be in a band or listen to what his parents wanted for him. He ultimately chose the desire God placed in his heart. We interviewed Cooper in 2011 and talked to him about how he stays true to his Christian message and how he pursued becoming a musician even when his parents didn’t initially support his dream.
Cooper opens up about being a Christian in mainstream music and how he stays true to the message he really wants to get across.
“I find it kind of like anything else in life. For instance, when [you go] to college, you’re making a decision to go to college and you know there is going to be new temptations and new stuff out there trying to lead you astray or vie for your affection. You’ve got to make decisions for who you want to be and then hopefully you put in safeguards to help those decisions for who you want to be and then hopefully you put in safeguards to help those decisions last. I find [the same] with any kind of business, or relationship even, what I mean is that practically for me, I need to have people in my life that I trust to speak into my life – my pastor and my wife, and whoever that’s going to be that we’re open about things and I know that I’m human and I can mess up and I need those people to be there for me and to keep me, not just to keep me accountable, but to be with me, to fight with me and to pray with me. A lot of bands if I see they’ve really gone off track from where they started from, it’s normally because they don’t have people in their lives like that. It’s very easy to get sucked into this world; the music world is almost like its own separate world from normal life, especially mainstream music.”
“Honor the Lord, you heavenly being; honor the Lord for his glory and strength. Honor the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea. The God of glory thunders. The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.” Psalm 29:1-3
Cooper explains the tension he had in the pursuit of becoming a musician and how his parents were against it.
“Yeah, they were really against it. I became a Christian when I was five. My mom was a Jesus-freak, passionate about Jesus, taught me about Jesus and I had a huge respect for my mom and she is the reason I am walking with God. But there were definitely things in my upbringing that I had a hard time with and the reason is because they didn’t make any sense from the Bible to me and that is probably the reason I hate religiousness and I’ve really fought against that my whole life. You know in fifth grade I wanted to wear black jeans and I wasn’t allowed to wear black because it was the devil’s color, and I wanted to have a mullet, I wanted a mullet so bad, like MacGyver, but not allowed to do that because that’s what non-Christians do, Christians don’t do that. So all that stuff really bothered me and I had a real hard time with this whole music thing, I could not wrap my head around whey God would create music but there would be a genre of music that was inherently evil or poisoned by the devil. I just couldn’t buy it. I thought they’re trying to control me and I don’t like that I want to do what God says and I want to obey my parents, but this just doesn’t make sense.”
Seek out friends who will hold you accountable. It is easy to surround ourselves with people that are fun or tell us things that we want to hear. It is also easy to end a friendship when a friend confronts us with something that we need to change or challenges us. It is important to have one or two close friends that you can share things that you might be struggling with, pray together and then hold each other accountable to change those attitudes or actions. A great place to start if you don’t have those types of friends is a small group at church or getting involved in a ministry.
Stay true to the message. Whether your friends or the culture changes, it is important to stay true to the faith foundation. Take time this week to spend time daily reading the Bible or a devotional and praying. Ask God to reveal to you His truth. If a teacher, co-worker or friend is challenging what you believe, rather than get upset, listen to what they are saying. It might even be beneficial to ask to discuss the matter at a later time. Then you can have time to research the subject and pray about how to approach the matter.
Worship. Take time this week to worship God and honor him in all that you do. Read and reflect on the words of Psalm 29. Write down what impacts you the most.
To read our entire interview with John Cooper of Skillet, click here.