Posted on / by Jon

Who Am I?

So I got a pretty intriguing response to my last blog. Turns out it struck a chord with a lot of people. I seem to have put something into words that others were having trouble articulating and clarifying in their own head. As such, I have been informed that I need to write a follow up. Where do I stand about a month later? So that’s what you have stumbled into today.

So as a recap, the major point I was posing is that I am having to rediscover who I am apart from other outside forces that have imposed their will on my life over the last 7ish years. If you need a refresher, READ IT HERE.

Now let me start by saying 3 things.

1. Lots of this is really fresh and new as of the last few days of some clarity.
2. This is not a full answer by any stretch but it’s a start.
3. My comments are going to be somewhat raw and may sound like I am more upset than is actually true. Just receive the rawness and receive that I am not a victim and I am not responding as one.

Oh, one more thing. This is going to be really long. 🙂

So my current answer boils down to these questions. What makes me happy? What have I always been passionate about? What are the constants that have existed in my life? If I could answer those questions I would be on a pretty good track.Those are not easy answers to come by but I think I got pretty close to something for myself over the last couple days. So I am starting to take steps to figure out what I do about the answers I have.

So there are 2 answers that I came up with for all three of those questions. 2 things that have always been of high importance. My family and music. Between the 2 of those things you can pretty much cover your bases on conversations with me.

We will start with family.

My family means the world to me. My kids are amazing and despite what troubles Shal and I may have had or may have, I would do anything for her. (I don’t think she believes that.) My family (extended included) has forcibly taken a back seat over the last few years. Time with them lost out to “ministry”. Ministry that was and is slowly burning me out. Even though I have been a stay at home dad, every bit of extra time revolved around what I had to do at church.

No more. My wife and kids come first as they should have to begin with. I have taken for granted my wife’s supportiveness. This year has already had her in high priority to me. At the beginning of the year I planned out all our date nights through the end of March and will do the same for the next 3 months this week. We’ve made time just for us together and are starting to take steps so we are growing closer to Jesus together. That’s of high priority to me. Being able to be my son and daughters soccer coach when they get there is high priority. Starting to take my daughter on dates so she continues to know she is daddy’s girl is high priority.

Not throwing out the things that would make me a professional Christian, just putting things in their right priority. It is not my job. It is all volunteer and I need to very clearly start thinking of it that way.


If you know me at all, you know that this has been my passion and drive forever. Every other hobby, job, or project falls a far far second to being a musician. It brings me more joy to be a song writer and performer than most anything else. And even that got unknowingly suppressed.

Back in 2008 I started a band with some close friends of mine. The Swift Retreat was comprised of Chris Pendleton, Matt Garner, Britt Pendleton and Jon Tsang. We were having a great time. We played a really awesome show at the Dame (Pre tear down). We were just having fun. Somewhere into it, we all bagged it because we were getting too busy. We all were in the midst of starting to be leaders at church and in the end devoted all of our spare time to being there. We had no time for things we enjoyed.

Over the last several years, many of us as well as other musicians around me regularly talked about wanting to play but could never come to terms with pulling something together. This has been one of the sadder parts of my life over the last few years and one of the biggest frustrations. Now many of us are married and having kids and in theory, we are even busier than before. So being professional musicians seems even more out of range though our “ministry” circumstances have relaxed.

I refuse to accept that. And I refuse to any longer accept what I thought was my only option. While I love being and feel called to be a worship leader, it was on some level sad to me that that seemed to be my only musical connection or outlet. It was the only place I was “allowed” to enter in. And it was also the biggest place of insecurity and not feeling worthy or good enough because of the situation I was in. I’ve even had to question my call to Cincinnati. Somewhere in the process, I fell into the trap that I was only gonna be allowed to do what I thought I was called to at a different campus. Cause at our main campus I was pretty much sidelined and receiving mixed messages based on what I was being told and what was being done. So while not the main point of our move. It for sure has been revealed as a not great factor. But here I am.

But on the positive side, I’ve decided I am not relegated to just that. And once again, I am not on staff. I am a volunteer and the hours I give to that volunteer role are mine to offer. So what did I decide to do? I joined a post-hardcore band as the lead singer. And I am loving it and loving the guys that I joined. It has been some the most joy I have had in quite some time. We have already played a couple shows and I think we have a ton of potential. And guess what, it is okay if I miss a weekend at church to go on tour. It’s okay for me to be somewhere else. And in all honesty, I am being more of an impact for Christ here than I feel like I have been in quite some time.

Am I gonna get signed and start touring and disappear from everything else. I don’t know and I am not expecting it. But I am enjoying myself and its nice to not feel guilty for dreaming the what if of it.

Now there are other outlets for music and those are going to start being my focus of how I do things. For instance, with my freelance stuff. I hate drumming up business with businesses. Yes they have the money to do things, but I would rather start focusing on doing work for other musicians, even if I have to do it at a discounted rate from what I may charge another business. But I’d much rather invest into something I love.

Job hunting… I’ve just searched for things in this media field I have grown accustomed to. But there are other options. Tuesday, I have an interview with a large production company. I would be a project manager for them. Bringing together lots of my skills and interest. And should it ever come down to Jesus telling me I am fully called to be a full time Worship Leader/Pastor, it is okay if I apply for jobs at other churches. Follow my calling from Jesus.

Anyway, I don’t have all the answers on this stuff. I also realize that some of this may sound more antagonistic and angry than it really was intended to be. But I needed to just write today and not worry about whether I was going to stir something up, offend someone or hurt feelings. And I still hold to the fact that while yes, things were done to me or situations were manipulated in the past, I am a grown man. I made choices and they are mine to own, reflect on and accept. They are mine to deal with and go to Jesus with. I am not a victim. And living as a victim gets you absolutely no where.Stand up and move on.