Church has been an integral part of my life since I was born, but I didn’t really understand who Jesus is until college. I grew up in a ministry family, with my dad being a worship pastor. While it was fun to be a kid everyone knew, it was also tough to live with high expectations. That’s why I decided early on that I would never lead worship at a church - I had seen how the sausage was made, and I didn’t want any part of it. In sixth grade, I set out toward the goal of working for Disney.
The denomination I grew up in preached the gospel, but required extremely moralistic living. Being the eldest of four kids, that came easy to me. I followed the rules, didn’t have sex, didn’t go to dances, came home by curfew, helped out at church whenever the doors were open, and never drank alcohol. Even though I had very deep sin in my life, I remember thinking how proud Jesus was going to be of me when I reached heaven; I imagined him saying, “Wow, Mike, I’ve never met a Christian as good as you!”
It was when I reached college that Jesus wrecked me. I attended an awesome Christian university, but it was not of my same denomination, and students there had a different-looking faith than mine. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t rectify the fact that I knew Jesus loved all these people, and yet some of them drank beer, or went dancing, or dared to question what I believed to be long-standing traditions of the church. It got so bad that I fell into a depression.
During this time, Jesus became real to me through his Word, and through the testimony of the students around me. He taught me that he loved all of his kids, and that his range of love and grace was much wider than the small box I had put him in. I realized that everyone is sinful, especially the perfect Christians like me. I left college with a renewed passion for Jesus and the forgiveness he offers all of us.
I soon ended up getting a job for Disney, but after an unfortunate run-in with Ariel, I realized I didn’t like how the Disney sausage was made either. I began leading worship at a church in Los Angeles, and the Lord revealed his calling on my life. I now know there is nothing else he’d rather have me do with my life. My desire is to help others realize that they don’t need to go searching for a blessing; when you give your everything to Jesus, you are fully blessed.