The first line of “Good Good Father” is “I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think You’re like”. What made you write that line?
I am so glad that you asked me this question. That’s the reason I wrote this song. That one line. No one has ever asked me that before!
For “Good Good Father“, I was just becoming a father to my kids, and I always thought about how I should introduce God to my kids. You can choose to introduce God as a healer, a comforter or a guide.
And then there are a lot of narratives outside the church that people use, like there is no God, God’s distant, God is angry, God is ashamed of you. We’ve all heard so many of those stories. Some of them are healthy, while some are really harmful.
So I started reading Scripture more and more. When Jesus introduced a relationship with God to people, the word he used was “Father”.
Of all the stories being told about God, Jesus thought the most appropriate and important was fatherhood and having a relationship with someone who loves and cares for you unconditionally.
The word “father” or “mother” can be difficult for some people because it’s a relational word. Depending on your own experience with your mother and father, or your lack of experience, it really affects how we view God.
So for me and for many adults, a lot of the journey is how am I going to unlearn some of the harmful stories that I’ve heard and believed in my life about Him. So that opening line in “Good Good Father”, for me, was about my whole life searching for thousands of narratives and takes and opinions about what God is like and eventually, I decided to trust Jesus’ word for who He says He is — Father. And [that decision] is good and liberating.
How do you channel life experiences into your songs?
Writing, for me, has always been a way to be honest and figure out what I actually feel. I’ve written so many songs that are not good enough to share (laughs). But whether I share them or not is always second to the fact that these are written to help me see God more clearly in the moment I’m in. Experiential songwriting is bringing your current real life circumstance before God and singing about it. So on my record, there’s a song called “Into Faith I Go”. It’s a song about change.
Change makes me nervous. I’ve always been like that. So the first line of the song is not even creative, it’s descriptive. It says “I’ve never been good at change” (laughs). Change can look like moving to another city, transitioning to another job or having difficult conversations with someone.
Even though melodies can’t solve problems, they provide an outlet of expression towards trusting God more. So, for me, it’s been my way of forcing myself to be honest with God and not hide and pretend when things are difficult. It’s really liberating to say “wow this is hard, I’m losing sleep over this situation. God, can you help me find peace? Is there a place where you can redirect my attention that can help me through this?” And sometimes there’s a song written for this but sometimes a song needs to be written because it doesn’t exist yet. Whatever I’m going through at the time, I’ll write about it. I found that to be helpful personally.
[SONGWRITING IS] MY WAY OF FORCING MYSELF TO BE HONEST WITH GOD AND NOT HIDE AND PRETEND WHEN THINGS ARE DIFFICULT.
It’s such an encouragement to then share those songs with other people and offer them as a help to the world. That’s what I love. I love it when a song that has helped me has the opportunity to help others as well. That’s one of the best parts of songwriting to me.
What kind of worship leader do you want to be known as?
Every time I lead worship, one of the things that I want people to know is that I’m just like everybody else. We are all in the same boat together. Instead of walking away going, “Oh wow I heard some great or bad songs” or whatever they think about the song (laughs), there will be an awareness that we were worshipping God together. It wasn’t just Pat singing or us singing, but it was all of us singing together. I hope that people walk away with the feeling that, “Wow, we all need God the same”.
This interview was conducted in conjunction with Thir.st and City Radio.