Eight years ago, Third Day, winners of 22 Dove Awards and 3 Grammys, extended Nigel James the invitation of a lifetime: the offer to tour with them as the group’s road pastor. Since that time, Nigel has been the group’s spiritual mentor and companion. In his new book, Lessons from the Road, he gives readers the chance to know the real Third Day—a bunch of regular guys who happen to be brilliant Christian rock musicians.
Nigel is a native of Cardiff, Wales and the founder of IGNITE, a UK-based youth discipleship initiative, and he is also a frequent speaker on American college campuses. Prior to his tenure with Third Day, he travelled as a speaker with the Newsboys. Having toured with the likes of Michael W. Smith, Max Lucado, and, of course, Third Day, he knows all too well the challenges of life on the road.
Tell us a little about your book.
Simply put, it’s an opportunity for the readers to join Third Day in the dressing room and on the tour bus, and to sit in on our devotional life together.
There are people who don't think the words "Christian" and "rock" go together. How do you handle controversy? What tips do you have for others who may face similar criticism?
If the words ‘Christian’ and ‘rock’ don’t go together then I’m amazed God uses Christian rock music so powerfully! My contention would be that the words ‘Christian music’ and ‘industry’ don’t always sit easily together, but even then God still touches people’s lives through the music. I completely believe that the Lord uses CCM for evangelism and discipleship, perhaps sometimes despite the flawed people involved. There will always be criticism of Christian rock, my simple advice after a number of years of trying to answer that criticism is to not evne enter the debate. Let the music and the power of it’s ministry speak for itself.
Do you struggle with the inner critic or the voice that calls you a fraud? How do you silence or muffle it?
Absolutely! That voice questions my position as a writer, a pastor, a leader, a father, a husband. But thankfully, my identity in Christ is stronger and louder than that inner critic, so I choose to believe Jesus.
Has any event or person changed the way you write? How or why?
Not specifically, but I tend to write analytically and sometimes without enough fire or passion, so I enjoy reading other authors and learning from them. Current favorites- Max Lucado, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, John Eldredge, and Erwin McManus.
What would you do, who would you be if you weren't touring with Christian rock bands?
Pastoring a church, leading a mission organization, or earning a living as a sports journalist.
What surprising blessing has come out of being on the road/ working with musicians?
Traveling to almost all of the US states, meeting lots of great people (some of them famous), plenty of free CD’s and Tee-shirts!
What does it cost you, personally, to live a life that some only fantasize about?
I think it’s hardest on my family because I’m away so much. The traveling life is getting harder as I get older- physically, mentally and spiritually. This year I’ve been on the road and missed my wife’s birthday, my daughter’s birthday, my mum’s birthday, my dad’s birthday, and the birth of my first grandchild. Now that’s an extreme set of circumstances but gives you an idea of the sacrifice involved.
What advice would you give the "beginning" Nigel James as he embarks on his writing journey?
Being a preacher, I’ve always preached most of my books before I’ve actually written them. It’s a good way of operating. The real key is that you have to completely believe in the subject you are writing about and enjoy unpacking it.
Parting words...words of wisdom...random thoughts....the answer to the question you wish I had asked.
I’ve learned that in order to give out you have to take in. So personal study, leisure reading, Biblical devotions, are all vital. I’m studying for a Master’s degree in Theology at the moment, and I’m looking at it as giving me more ballast and stability under the water line. Too many of us look great above the water, but there’s no foundation below.