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Songwriter poses ‘Ruin Me’ challenge

HIGHLAND VILLAGE, Texas (BP)–“It’s a hard song for many people to sing,” worship leader and songwriter Jeff Johnson acknowledges.

The song -– “Ruin Me” and its chorus, “Ruin my life, the plans that I’ve made” —- have prompted “quite a few conversations with people” thinking through what that might mean in their own lives, Johnson said.

“The whole premise behind the song is that when we’re living for our own desires, we need to focus our lives back on Christ,” said Johnson, who was inspired to write the song, drawn from Isaiah 6, after hearing a sermon about being “ruined” for God’s glory.

“Over the past year, my life has had many more lows than ups,” Johnson said, admitting that it seems “now as the song is getting recognition across the country [in the top 30 on Billboard’s Christian Adult Contemporary chart] … I am in this process of truly being ruined, being taken to a place where there is really nothing left of me. And I am learning how to walk in the truth of how God’s Word says to live.

“When we realize how good the Lord is and how much we need Him, it’s only at that point can you truly experience full worship and be that much more grateful for His mercy and the grace He gives,” Johnson said. “For people to corporately proclaim that and sing the powerful lines which cry out to God to ‘take everything that I’ve laid out, Lord take it all and just make it about You,’ that’s a powerful, powerful statement.

“I’ve had more people tell me that as they were struggling with decisions this song has helped push them in the right direction and helped them to be okay with the decisions. While we have certain passions and desires that are all good and keep us different and unique, it’s about recognizing that all those things can be used for God’s glory. It’s about being cognizant that life is not about us, it’s about focusing on our Creator.”

One of Johnson’s favorite moments while leading the song occurred during a camp last year.

“At one point as I was leading I backed off the microphone, and hearing a group of 800 students shout out the chorus of that song was overwhelming — both as a songwriter to see how God is using it and just to participate in that powerful prayer: ‘Devastate me, God, until nothing remains except the desire to live for You.'”

Wherever Johnson is leading worship, his goal remains the same: to lead people to a passionate pursuit of Jesus Christ.

“I love watching people respond to what God is doing in their lives through songs,” he said. “To stand on stage and watch a crowd of people, or even just one individual, respond to the greatness of God’s power is the greatest thing.”

Johnson said his desire as he leads worship and writes music is to facilitate an environment where students and adults alike can catch a glimpse of the God who heals, restores and sets free.

Over the past few years, Johnson has been blessed with numerous opportunities to lead worship at events across the country, including the Youth Ministry Lab in April at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas. In 2005, he was given a unique platform to share about his music ministry while auditioning for “American Idol.” When he isn’t on the road, he attends The Village Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Highland Village, Texas.

“My prayer is wherever God leads, I would be able to look back and say that He used my life to make His name known,” Johnson said. “I am thankful every day for where God has brought me and for the opportunities to lead worship. I pray that the music I make promotes the Kingdom, changes lives and leads people to a deeper love of our Creator and our Savior.”

Johnson and his band also believe in investing in the lives that God has entrusted them to lead, spending a great deal of time off the platform talking with people at events and hearing about what God is doing in their lives.

“When we were touring in February, a couple came up and shared that they were struggling as alcoholics,” Johnson recounted. “They were a part of Alcoholics Anonymous and it was a tough process for them, but they had been sober for 30 days. They said that one of our songs really ministered to them and was pushing them forward and helping them to stay sober.

“It’s stories like this that are encouraging, knowing that our songs are ministering to people in life-changing ways.

“Leading anyone to the throne room of the Lord is a privilege,” Johnson said. “I am always humbled and grateful for the opportunities to impact people’s lives and make a difference for eternity.”
Leann Callaway is a freelance writer in Irving, Texas.

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