During Season 6 of “American Idol,” most people got to know Phil Stacey as the devoted husband, father and Naval Petty Officer who had a talent for singing country music. The “Idol” experience was made even better for this minister’s son by the common bond of Christian faith he shared with fellow contestants like Chris Sligh, Melinda Doolittle and eventual winner Jordin Sparks. Phil’s faith is now shining through on his highly-praised debut country album which has grown in popularity every week since its early May release date.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Phil on an episode of “Christopher Closeup” (full podcast available here). Here are some excerpts from that interview:
Tony Rossi: When some people hear the word vocation, they automatically think of life in a form of religious ministry…Do you see your music career as a vocation also, as a different way of serving God?
Phil Stacey: Sure…Whatever you’re called to do, there’s a purpose for everybody…My Mom is a nurse and she feels that it’s her ministry to go in and pray with patients who want to be prayed with, and to share experiences …where the doctor’s report wasn’t what (the patient) wanted to hear but God brought them through.
I don’t think I’d be where I am today if it wasn’t for the fact that…my wife and I, we surrendered our lives to the will of God years ago. We just said we want to go where God wants us to go. And there’s been times when we wanted to jump into something that…For example, I was here in Nashville in 2002 about to sign a record deal. And it was everything I ever wanted but I just couldn’t get a peace about it. I knew it wasn’t what God had for us at the time and that was when I ended up going into the military…For some reason I had a peace about it. And now on the opposite side, it just totally prepared me for what I’m doing today. If you surrender your life to God, you’re in great hands. You take turns where you have no idea where the Lord is taking you at the time (and) you’re like ‘Are you sure about this God?’ Because of our own personal mentality, we don’t see the big picture. And I’m saying this today knowing that tomorrow I could vanish and never be heard from again…But I believe I’m here because God put me here.
TR: How did (your Mom and Dad) give you a foundation of faith that’s really grown and held strong into adulthood?
Phil Stacey: “I think everyone of us as Christians has seen some form of hypocrisy in the church…I think one of the great things is that I had parents who weren’t hypocrites, who very much were demonstrators of the love of Christ. Even through times when we wanted to rebel and go off and do everything that we weren’t supposed to do, they constantly showed us love. And they prayed for us and they prayed with us. We had family devotions. They just set a great example for us. Another thing is that they didn’t try to brainwash us into believing what they believed just because they believed it. They were very encouraging of us to get into Scripture and ask questions…and really pray about it and discover what God had for us as individuals and not as preacher’s kids. There were times when (my brother, sister and I) distanced ourselves from the church per se in a time of discovery but God always pulled us back. God was always there in the picture, our prayer lives were never dropped...It was just a time of figuring out what exactly we believed.
TR: What made you decide to enlist in the military (after 9/11)?
Phil Stacey: “It was a Garth Brooks song called ‘The Change…’ The song is about – there is so much evil around me, but I’m not going to give into that, I’m not going to change. I’m going to be a force for good. I’m going to be what God initially made me to be. I remember that song touching me in a powerful way…It re-emerged as a single after September 11 and, immediately, I just started crying…After the song was over, I turned off the radio, looked at my wife and said ‘I think I need to be in the military.’ And she said, ‘Okay.’ I wanted to be part of the solution to a terrible situation.
TR: At The Christophers, we use the motto “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” When you encounter times of darkness in your life, how are you able to light a candle and move toward a brighter future?
Phil Stacey: In seeking God’s will for our lives, so many times we get so focused on the destination…that we don’t realize it’s actually about the journey. The journey has high points and it has low points; it has mountains and it has valleys. When you find yourself in the midst of a valley, you can rest assured in knowing that there is a river of life on the other side…No matter what this life throws at you, we’re promised the ultimate reward in heaven of just being in the presence of God forever. For me, anytime there’s just a dark situation around me, I know the Psalm…’The Lord is our refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble.’ I take comfort in knowing that the Lord is my shepherd.