One of contemporary Christian music’s most recognizable household names, Michael W. Smith, sat down with popular Christian comedian John Crist last week on Crist’s “Net Positive” podcast to discuss Smith’s career, faith, Billy Graham, and this generation’s desperate need for fathers.
Crist, who entered rehab after he was accused of sexual misconduct and harassment in 2019, said his conversation with Smith was like sitting down with a family member. The comedian said that Smith’s words were filled with a lot of wisdom and encouragement, and it felt as though he were listening to the words of his own father.
Smith credited his parents’ faith and devotion to Jesus for making such an impact in his life that he made a decision to follow Christ when he was 10 years old.
The Grammy Award-winning singer also shared about how he walked away from the Lord during his late teen years, playing music in bars and doing drugs until he was 21. “I thought could play with the fire and I got burned,” Smith said.
During his “prodigal son” phase, Smith recalled how much his parents loved him and never kicked him out of the house. He remembers his dad telling him that he needed to “pull it together,” but was always rooting for him to succeed.
“I think that’s the way God is, and people have a misconception of who God is because they think if you screw up, and all of a sudden you’ve got the rod and you’re in deep trouble,” Smith said.
In November 1979, Smith experienced a nervous breakdown that had him shaking and crying on the floor for 3 1/2 hours. “I say this, and I know it’s true,” Smith said. “Abba came and laid on the floor with me and I have not been the same since that night—I’m convinced it was because of the prayers from my mom and dad.”
Crist shared the text Smith sent him the day he got “canceled,” a day that the comedian described as the “darkest day of my life.” Smith and Crist had met before, but didn’t have each other’s cell numbers. Crist said that Smith sought out Crist’s number in order to tell him, “Just want to let you know that we love you. We care for you. And you’re not alone.”
The Christian music pioneer said that people have asked him how he has “survived success” throughout his career.
One specific area Smith has advice on is to how people, especially musicians, can keep their families together. “Because you got a lot of families that are falling apart,” he said. “These guys and bands are on the road for 200 to 250 days out of the year and they got three kids. That ain’t gonna work. Not gonna work.”