In Life - Debriefed, Random Neural Firings, Thank yous

A funny thing happened while I was busy working: Forty years went by. Four decades. The same number of years Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert, for crying out loud. How did that happen? Oh, yeah – now I remember. Time doesn’t stop. For anybody…

Just last week, I was reminded of the relentless passage of time when I returned to my college alma mater to accept the Award for Exemplary Leadership in Christian Music from the Baylor University Center for Christian Music Studies. (Believe it or not, they got all that on a plaque along with my name.) There’s nothing like being on your old college campus to be reminded just how not young you are. Interacting with the students, I couldn’t help but imagine them thinking, “How is this guy still kicking? He’s older than my dad!”

Accepting the award, I attempted to pass along a little wisdom to the students. I told them the crazy thing was this: I never set out to go into Christian music at all. In truth, I was hoping to work in the world of pop music. But life has a strange way of taking you places you never considered going. As my writing developed, I found myself penning songs for the Church because the Church was important to me.  And I wrote about Jesus because Jesus was important to me. Opportunities followed my efforts, and one day I turned around and I had a career in Christian music. And that was a good thing.

What’s more, several of my Baylor classmates worked in Christian music right alongside me all those years. Some continue to do so still today. “So be nice to your classmates,” I told the Baylor kids. “They might one day be your employer.”

Most of us have grand plans when we are young. Sometimes those plans work out. Sometimes they don’t. Mine didn’t. And like I said, that’s a good thing.

My thanks go out to Dr. Randall Bradley, his fellow faculty members, and all make the Alleluia conference happen. It was my honor and pleasure to be there.


Showing 13 comments
  • Bruce Cokeroft

    Hey, Rob! This blog really spoke to my heart. Thanks so much for sharing your experience of going back to your college roots! I’m sure the students and faculty (and you) all gleaned positive things from the experience!

    • rsterling

      Well, if the students will simply learn from my mistakes they will be way ahead of the game!

  • Russell Mauldin

    Good stuff, pal! I’m proud of you. I’ve never received what I deserved from God…thankful every day for that.

    • rsterling

      Thanks, Russell. And I’m with you on that: Any time I start feeling jealous about what somebody else has, I need only remind myself how God has spared me from what I truly deserve.

  • David Gaines

    Very poignant words of wisdom Robert Sterling. Maintaining relationships throughout life is so very crucial. You never know, as you pointed out, who you might work with, or work with again! Case in point, I am now serving with a guy I served on a church staff with 20 years ago. While the situation at the first church was ‘wonky’ for both of us, we parted ways on good terms and that has huge repercussions now.

    Navigating life with relationships you’ve maintained through the years makes life much more full, and I have found gives you a sense of belonging and satisfaction later in life. To know that those you went to school with are still those you can pick up the phone and call for any reason is a wonderful thought. I’m afraid that so much of the intra-personal relationships of life is being lost on the current generation. There are too many young people who view relationships as “throw away”, in my opinion. I’m glad you were able to speak into the lives of the young people at Baylor and I hope they listened to a wise man like yourself.

    • rsterling

      Thanks for the input, David. of course, when I was in college I had no idea that guys like Dennis Worley, Don Cason, and Chris Machen would not only be lifelong friends, but business associates as well. And like a lot of guys, we maintain our relationships with minimal contact but maximum trust. I consider myself fortunate to have friends like those, whom I could call in the middle of the nigh with a crisis knowing they would rise to help me.

      It was good to meet some of the Baylor students and chat with them personally. They are sharp kids (and soon very young!).

  • wayne causey

    Your music has been and is on the lips of worshippers across the world. I’d call that 40 years of well done. Keep it up, brother!

    • rsterling

      Thanks, Wayne! As of now, I have no intention of stopping. I figure I’ll retire after lunch on the day of my funeral.

  • Robin McGee

    I, like so many others, am grateful for the “misdirection.”

    It has been a pure pleasure to know you, and a rich privilege to teach your inspired music to choirs during those same 40 years (and the fact that we shared a couple of copyrights along the way was unexpected and unbelievably special to me.)

    God is good!

    • rsterling

      Robin – That is so very kind of you to say. Thanks. It’s funny how God puts people in our paths. You and crossed paths several times, didn’t we? And the first time, neither of us noticed. 🙂

  • Gene Wilkes

    I have always loved your love for the Lord and the music he put in your heart for his church–even though I have not heard or sung much of it–but I am a fan because I know what you write is theologically strong and that it not only inspires but teaches and guides the singer and listener to authentic worship. You deserve any accolades our alma mater or whomever gives you. Faithfulness will always outlast fads. Thanks for living the former and not chasing the later.

    • rsterling

      Gene – Thanks for the encouraging support. I’ve always valued your opinion and insights – so this means a lot.

  • Ken Litton

    So true! That’s how it happens. Keep going, Robert!

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