From the dizzying heights of success with Delirious? to helping the poor and needy around the world, Martin Smith carries the same desire and focus wherever he travels.
How would you look back on your ministry so far?
Wow – that's a big question! I think with a sense of happiness and fulfilment; the end of Delirious wasn't the end, it's was the beginning in a sense. We're proud of what God has done with a bunch of ordinary guys from Littlehampton, and we're very very humbled by that.
When you look back to days of the Cutting Edge events, did the young Martin Smith imagine playing stadiums around the world?
I think there was a sense that something was going to happen bigger than that event, but of course, you don't at the time; and in a way you're glad you don't know. All you can do is to be faithful to what you've got, keep your head down, and God adds the rest.
What would you say the highs from your time with Delirious were?
Being together on the road. I think playing in India was a real highlight – that whole experience out there was just fantastic.
That's a big question! No – not really. I think we endeavoured all the time to do what we knew was right. We always wanted to put God first in everything we did. I don't think everything worked out as we planned it, but I think they are different things. No regrets really.
It seemed for a while that mainstream success beckoned. How do you look back on that time?
I think with a lot of fondness. We put our money where our mouth was: we spent a lot of money on videos and really giving it a good push. I think that, in the end, we just got the point of realising that it's a bit of a money pit; that it wasn't really what we were designed to do, and that we then just concentrated on being ourselves more. Some of it is luck, of being in the right place at the right time.
But ten years ago the climate was different in this country than it is now. You could imagine a sing like History Maker now gaining a bit of momentum because it has a message, that people are a more open and there is story to it. But back then people were really suspicious of Christian music and so we had to dig up some ground and pave the way.
Do you think you played a part in helping people to see things differently?
I'd love to think we played a part. The fact that we were authentic and are still around has been a big thing for people in that industry, and has gained us some respect I hope. We didn't just come and go – we stuck to what we believe in.
You managed to bridge the gap between worship and performance. Was a conscious decision?
I think it has been instinctive. It is who we are, it is who I am as a person. I love being in the presence of God, whether that is at a Radio 1 road-show or in church on a Sunday morning it doesn't really worry me too much. That has always been the aim, to get people there [in the presence of God]. We were fearless in some environments, especially on the Bon Jovi tour, with the songs we did, and you are always hoping for the glory of God to come and to touch people and change people. That's the mandate really.
It seems quite a vulnerable place to be, to be exposing your own act of worship on stage in front of thousands of people. How have you dealt with that vulnerability?
King David did it didn't he? He did it in his underpants - I've never quite gone that far. He did the vulnerability thing really well and he was the king of Israel. I think it is knowing who you are, being confident in that. You only find out who you are when get to know God a bit more. I feel comfortable in my skin to be the person I am on stage and off stage too.
Through Compassion Art and some Delirious projects – you mentioned India – you have placed social justice at the heart of what you have done. Here, in the West, do we have too much stuff?
Yes – definitely. I don't know where you put the slide rule, but there is just never ending consumerism and I am as guilty of that as everyone. It's a tension, and we need to know God and be guided by the Holy Spirit as to how we use our money. That's a daily thing.
What role does worship have in helping us to prioritise things?
When we worship God we find out who we are. You find yourself looking in a mirror on a regular basis, "Is this the person I am? I need to change this. I need a redesign. I need salvation. I need forgiveness." Worshipping God is amazing because you connect with someone extraordinary, someone eternal and you see yourself in that light.
How do we live in the modern world with CDs, books, websites etc?
I think that is a very individual decision to make. You have to stand before God and ask him, "How do I live my life with what I have," whether it is twenty quid a week or twenty grand. I don't think the amounts are the issue. You can say, "You've put this in my hand, God, what do you want me to do with it?" That should be a daily prayer with whatever you've got.
The new retrospective album The Cutting Edge Years is released by Kingsway and available to buy here.
April 16th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Ian Matthews