by Tracy Darlington
Jami Smith : Making Worship Real
Jami Smith, recording artist and worship leader, travels the United States and the world leading others to the heart of God through worship.
Jami lives in Oklahoma where in 1999 she established Spring Rain Ministries, a non-profit ministry. She spends her time serving in her local community along with a full schedule of leading worship, speaking and writing.
Jami most recently released 2 new cds “Bravo God” and “Hope of All the Earth”, a Christmas CD. The songs “Salt and Light” and “Wash Over Me” from her 2002 album release “Wash Over Me” were chart toppers on Christian radio in the US. For more information about Jami, her ministry, and her music, you can visit her website
With a cute layered haircut and light capri pants, Jami Smith is munching on a ham and cheese sandwich, sunglasses hooked on her shirt. Yet only an hour before I heard this outgoing young woman with an Oklahoma drawl lead thousands into the presence of God, her lively worship music echoing over the hills of the Creation East music festival. It’s now, after Jami’s performance and lunch, that I caught up with her. Here’s what she had to say:
Tracy: How did you get started in music?
Jami: I began leading worship in college. My campus minister at Oklahoma Baptist University came to me one day during my sophomore year and asked me to be a part of the worship team on campus to plan the worship services for our school. I was reluctant, because our meetings were at 7:30 in the morning! After a lot of donuts and Coke, we began to plan how we could get students on our campus involved in discovering the joy of adoring the Lord through song and prayer.
Why is worship important to you?
Because it’s a time where we don’t talk about God, but we talk to God. Where we don’t just understand His love with our minds, but we experience and feel it with our hearts. It’s so vital that we do it together as the body of Christ.
Do you think teenagers have specific needs for worship?
Teenagers are great at worshiping! We just worship the wrong things sometimes. We’re good at worshiping each other, clothes, cars, our stuff, and popularity. Teenagers are probably the best at that, but we want to teach them how to worship the only true God that can meet their needs. We all have the need for acceptance, approval and love. You can find satisfaction through worshiping God.
Do you have any advice for folks having trouble dealing with life pressures?
There’s a great verse in the Bible where Jesus says, “If you love Me, you’ll keep My commandments.” For a long time I just was obedient for obedience sake. I did what I was supposed to do ‘cause it was expected of me. I saw that verse and a light bulb went off, and I went, “Wait a minute! It’s an overflow of my love for You.” It’s like if a guy showed up to take a girl out on a date and he brought her flowers and she said, “Oh my gosh, why did you get me flowers?” and he goes, “Well, I felt obligated. After all, we are going out on a date.” That’s a terrible answer! She’d slam the door. She’s not going out with him! But if he brought her flowers and she said, “Why’d you bring me flowers?” and he said, “Just because I wanted to see you smile” or “Because you’re special to me.” She’d feel great!
Obedience is like God is at the door. We’re coming with the flowers. God says, “Hey, why are you giving Me your life?” We say, “Because I love you. Because I want to make you smile.” Not, “I’m obligated because my youth pastor’s watching me.” Or “I’m in church and everyone is watching me, so I have to do the right thing.” It’s a good place to be.
Any advice for people who want to get into worship music?
Don’t idolize worship leaders and worship songs, or a particular style of worship. Don’t focus on “making it”, but in every decision in your life, ask yourself: Does it nurture a relationship with God or does it damage it? Focus on your relationship with God. Because if you’re going to be a good worship leader, you have to have gone deep with the Lord to actually be able to lead worship. It’s not about who has the coolest guitar, knows this many cords, or has the best songs, but are you in love with Jesus?
What has God been teaching you lately?
To be content with what He wants to do with my life, not what I may have planned. Every time I talk to God about my fears, anxieties, and frustrations. He comforts me by letting me know He’s in control, He has plans for me. They’re not my plans, but they’re His agenda. I wrote in one of my Bible studies, “God, I’m a control freak!” And He says, “Let me be the Control Freak,” ‘cause He’s Sovereign and in control.
What’s the main goal for your life?
I just want to please God, so what does that look like? I think it’s going to be that I’m in the Word and I’m grounded. But I’m grounded in the fact that I want to make Him famous. I don’t want to make myself famous. I hope people will get that.
Anything else you’d like to say to TitleTrakk.com readers?
My advice would be that salvation from your sins happens once through Christ, but salvation from yourself needs to happen every minute of every day. Let Jesus be Lord of your thoughts, of what you talk about, who you date. Does the guy you date love God? Or is he just cool, and you want to date him ‘cause he’s cute? It all came together for me in about ninth grade. I realized I needed to live a little differently than my friends do. If Jesus is gonna be Lord, I have to change some stuff about my life.
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.