What is the biggest challenge of being a recording artist/worship leader? What is the biggest blessing?
How do you overcome criticism, both outward (intended or not) & inward (inner voice replaying outward voices)?
What would be one thing you would tell your teenage self?
These question flow well out of the last one.. The biggest challenge and the biggest blessing is learning how to trust God with the people and with yourself. It’s a process of “putting things where they belong”. Our pastor Louie has said before, “lead FROM a place of love and acceptance not FOR love and acceptance.” We can’t seek to get our needs met through leading people in worship or people patting us on the back for our songs. It’s easy to get caught up in this as an artist, songwriter or worship leader. We lead from WHO who are, as loved sons and daughters of God, and trust God with the rest. We can’t judge the people’s response on “how we did” if we are truly leading from “who we are”. Who we are in Christ is unchanging…it’s set in stone and it’s unmovable. The blessing is when you start to see that you are a vessel, hidden in Christ, with works created in advance for you to do. (Eph 2:10) If it’s “created in advance” how freeing is it to know that you didn’t come up with it? : ) You can’t boast in something you didn’t come up with… We have to put the voices where they belong, in the perfect hiding place…Jesus. We are hidden in Christ. (Col. 3:3) Often after I know full-well that God moved powerfully through me, I like to go lay in my bed, either at the hotel or my home, and put the covers all the way over my head. This is symbolic to me that I’m hidden in Jesus. That what He just did through me was prepared in advance for me. Anything He might have done through me for His glory is HIS and I release it. Often if I didn’t think it was good enough or I receive criticism…I do the same thing. Take it to the hiding place already carved out for me and by obedient faith, release it to Him. We have to do this with our praise and our criticism. They both have the same hiding place. Jesus. The One we were created BY and FOR and whom we can do all things FROM.
How have you encouraged your children to express themselves in worship?
This is such a great question… I’m often so grateful for how I was raised. It wasn’t perfect by any means and my parents made mistakes like the rest of humanity but somehow I was able to understand worship at a very young age. What’s interesting is that I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church where there was very little outward expression of worship. However, much emphasis was placed on the heart and letting that be the place where worship begins. Because I grew up to be very free in my outward expression, I can know as a parent that my children outwardly expressing their worship cannot be and shouldn’t be the starting point. Shepherding their hearts is the starting point…the rest will follow. (Proverbs 4:23) I think it’s important, as parents, to talk about the exchange that worship is. Worship is posturing our hearts towards God to glorify Him in all we say and do. Being a “worshiper” is what we were created to BE. When we are what we were created to BE there’s a fulfillment there that’s indescribable…
My husband Nathan often uses the analogy with our children of “keeping the light flipped on in our hearts”. That is an expression of worship in and of itself. Often to do this we must see our sin for what it is, confess our sin to God and that “flips the light on” in our hearts. When our children are battling with sin, we often ask them, “do you want to start over?” The answer is always a resounding “YES!” Coming clean is always a relief and a release! The more and more they understand what Jesus has ALREADY done for them, the more they will begin to stand in awe of who He is and sing like never before… If there’s anything I’ve learned as a worship leader, it is dangerous to try to judge the room by the outward expression of the people. Only God sees the heart. (Mat. 15:8-9) Often the times I’ve looked around and thought “these people aren’t getting it” will be the the time that God reveals to me that actually the exact opposite was true. All in all, worship is about coming and believing in faith that God is who He says He is and our response to that requires our lives. (Hebrews 11:6) I pray that by faith my children will rise up and bless the Lord with all that is within them, whatever that might look like!
Really miss Watermark… never really heard a good explanation of the breakup…
No matter how many times you explain something, the end of a season in your life is sometimes just hard to articulate! Thank you for asking… We always smile at this question because there was never a “breakup”. Quite the opposite, thankfully. My husband Nathan and I were “Watermark”, just the two of us. We did several records with a record label called “Rocketown Records” started by Michael W. Smith. We made 5 records as Watermark and then our recording contract was up for renewal. Instead of renewing our record deal for 5 more records, or whatever that would entail, we felt strongly that the Lord was calling us to a new season of life. I wanted to come off the road for awhile and be at home with our small children. Nathan wanted to produce records more. So we did just that…obeying what we felt like God was asking us to do and trusting Him with the results of our obedience. Looking back on that time, it was probably some of the most shaping years of my life. During that time I learned to be “present” in the moment… I learned to cook the food that was in our refrigerator and clean my house. I learned to love and discipline my children and that I wanted to have another baby, which we did during that time as well. We continued to lead for Passion Conferences during those years and in 2008 we got the opportunity as a family to move to Atlanta, GA and help be a part of the planting of Passion City Church. As a songwriter and worship leader, I still had a longing in my heart for God to use me and continued to trust Him that He would make that a reality again if that’s what He wanted for me. Eventually, He opened the door. It was a natural fit for me to sign with sixstepsrecords since it is the record label started by Passion Conferences. At that point it was fitting for me to also just use my name since I also speak now and mainly sing and lead for women’s ministries and conferences. Also, as I have grown as a worship leader, it has continued to have an impact on me as songwriter. I’m down the middle on loving the “singer/songwriter” moments and loving “corporate worship” moments. I feel like my records are a mixture of the two. I don’t write my songs with the masses in mind. I write with the faces of young women and men all around me, at church, in my neighborhood, in my children’s school… I glean from their stories, their struggles and of course, my own. It’s a new season, but we laugh all the time that all the elements of “Watermark” are still very much together and alive, it’s still Nathan and I writing, producing and carrying these songs together, we just call it “Christy Nockels” now… : )
What is your favorite Bible verse?
Psalm 37: 4-6 – “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn and the justice (or vindication) of your cause like the noonday sun.”
We had these little wall plaques in our house when I was growing up with our names on them, the meaning of our names and then a scripture along with it. Mine said “Christy, Follower of Christ, and then a paraphrased version of these verses. As a child, I learned to handwrite the scripture and wrote it over and over, apparently it meant allot to me that there was a meaning and a scripture that went along with being called “Christy”. One time, just sitting in church with my mom, I wrote these scriptures out for her to see (again) and she had the wisdom to turn over the paper and write me back saying…”yes, if Christy gives her heart to Jesus, He will show her the way to go”. That was all it took. The Holy Spirit gripped my heart in that moment and I suddenly not only knew my need for a Savior but I didn’t want to wait another minute without turning my heart towards Him… In some of the most trying seasons of my life the Lord has so kindly brought me back to these passages. I remember reading it once years ago and the word “give” in verse 4 jumped off the page at me. I had read that in my younger years to basically mean, “if I do this for God, He will do this for me”. But in that moment, the Holy Spirit showed me that by GIVE He means “instill” or “show” as much as He means “reward”. He instills our desires…shows us what they are in every season…and in every season they might look different! And He fulfills them as we give Him our whole hearts…often the fulfillment looks totally different than anything we imagined but the joy is unexplainable. It goes on to say in verse 5 – “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, and the justice (or vindication) of your cause like the noonday sun.” I think about this verse almost everyday as I seek to have balance in my life. Only the Lord can lift up our “cause”. We look to so many other things in this life to lift us up…our career, our position, our spouse, our children, our gifts and even our very own “cause”… but only He can lift it up. We can exhaust ourselves honestly trying to vindicate ourselves and elevate what He’s put in us. If He put it in us, then it’s His to promote and lift up. It’s that simple. It doesn’t mean we sit around and just wait for Him to make things happen for us. We work with diligence.
As a young mom of 3 (almost…one on the way), and serving in full time missions on an Indian Reservation. How do you find balance in your life with ministry, a strong relationship with your husband, and raising your children, homeschooling, etc.? In what ways do you include your kids in your ministry?
what are some things you do daily or weekly to create balance?
What are your tips for being a great mother and wife? What are your biggest day to day challenges?
My Dad told me once…”living a balanced life is actually the hardest thing to do”. It’s much easier to live in extremes…extremely scheduled, busy and task oriented or completely laid back to the point of “anything goes” and getting nothing done. Somewhere in between is where we need to be, but it takes both discipline AND releasing control somehow. God gives us the grace we need each day to live in that balance. Often though we unintentionally step outside of His grace by trying to do it ALL. Years ago, the Lord showed me this beautiful picture of surrender. Let’s say that each day our lives look like a target sign. The grace He’s given us for today, our portion, is the “bullseye”. (Psalm 16:5) Inside that “bullseye” is Jesus and your circle of influence. Through Jesus, you love your husband, your children and run your home…all within the grace He’s given you to do it in. Everything outside of that is His territory…the “outer rings” of the target are His glory, His ways and how He makes the influence of our smaller circle have an impact on the world at large. Many times we want to do it all and even control how God is getting things done in our lives. Sometimes we even wake up in the “outer rings” of the target and start our day there. We are exhausting ourselves outside of the “portion” He has given us for today. The beautiful thing is that we can stop striving to “do it all”. You’ll find that when you focus on the “bullseye”, He will do God-size things in the “outer rings” that you never imagined He could do through you. He will make your smaller circle of influence make a greater impact than you ever imagined. He will make your righteousness shine. He will lift up your “cause”. (Psalm 37:6) I think the enemy loves to lie to women and moms that our influence inside the walls of our homes is small, meaningless, and chaotic. Sometimes he will even busy us doing more and more until we spread ourselves entirely too thin and our influence is diminished everywhere. What a lie… God’s Word is true and His promises stand…His process and ways always work. Ask the Holy Spirit every day (or several times a day like me!) to help you live in the “bullseye” and literally tell Him out loud that you will trust Him with the rest. I promise you that you will see Him lift you up when you are intentional to glorify Him with your “portion”.
On a practical note, I have lots of help! I have a few beautiful girls from our church that help me homeschool and nanny our children. They consider it their ministry to love on our children and I consider it a privilege for my children to have other Godly women in their lives. In fact, some of my dearest friends to this day are girls who used to nanny for us who have gone on to get married and have children of their own. It’s a beautiful way to let younger girls come into your home and see how it all works! To include my children in ministry, I just talk to them about it all the time. I explain why I do what I do…the power of communication and conversation goes such a long way. I tell them to pray for me and to help me around the house when I have a deadline for songs so that they feel a part of me getting things done. Our words as parents are powerful. I know it sounds strange by I tell my children all the time that I am willing to not travel if they are in need of me to be home. The sweet thing is, it is always a resounding “no Mommy, don’t ever quit doing what you do”. Somehow they know the order is right in the heart of it all (I haven’t always been there) and they bless it. They are the best gage of something being out of order! : )
What is your favorite song to sing live?
A song called “Wonderful” from my record “Into The Glorious”. I wrote it in the car on the way to the grocery store. It will forever be a reminder to me that I am invited “into the glorious” at all times, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. That week was a particularly heavy week as I was preparing to leave for a tour and my youngest daughter was sick…all in all…I felt hopeless, tired and drained. I was thinking, “what on earth do I possibly have to offer anyone?” At that moment I chose to make my trip to the grocery store my “sanctuary” and the answer was suddenly clear again…Jesus. I began to just worship Him in my car and praise Him for how wonderful, beautiful and magnificent He is. Suddenly, the silence was broken and a song of praise emerged from me that changed everything. Every time I sing it it reminds me how so often the “enemy of our souls” is out to steal our “song”. All it takes is breaking that silence with faith and singing out over the chaos and suddenly we are in His very presence.