Faith Worked Out: Beth Croft
Many of you will be familiar with the music and ministry of Beth Croft and of Soul Survivor, and so we are especially excited to be sharing with you this newest interview in our Faith Worked Out series. Beth was kind enough to speak to us about the importance of praising God through music, the times when she has found it hard to persevere in her faith, and the ways in which she tries to use her gifts for God's glory. We hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did! XO
Dream holiday destination: Switzerland - I love the 'Sound of Music'.
Song that you listen to on repeat:Ghost by Ella Henderson and Forever by Bethel.
£10 treat: Food - I'm pregnant at the moment so it's all about food!
Favourite Psalm: Psalm 91.
Coffee order: Decaf Cappuccino.
Can you tell us about what you do day to day, and how you have ended up doing what you do?
I work for Soul Survivor Ministries and Soul Survivor Church, heading up the worship there. So I spend a lot of time leading worship, pastoring the worship team and working with our volunteers who play with us.
I grew up going to Soul Survivor Church as a teenager. I have always been musical but when I was 18 the worship leader in my cell group was ill for a couple of weeks. I didn't really want to lead, as I had never done it before, but the group seemed to think I was the next best option! At that time, I only played the piano but you can't really put one of those in your handbag to take to cell group! My brother had a guitar and God prompted me to give it a go. I practised like crazy, (even the "spontaneous" parts!) and that was where it all started. I was then given the chance to do a worship internship during my degree, and after I graduated, I went to work for Soul Survivor.
If I'm honest, I didn't plan to do Christian ministry as my full time job. I expected to have a normal job, where I would be living out my faith in a secular setting. My faith really came alive at uni, and I loved being a light in what can sometimes be a dark and confusing place. Despite my earlier plans to be a school teacher, I felt God prompting me into full time ministry and I really couldn't imagine doing anything else now! God softens our hearts towards the things that he has as our purpose - even if we are not totally sure at the time.
What made you passionate about leading worship? How did you uncover the vision that God has for your life?
Music had always been an important part of my connection and relationship with God. As my faith became more important to me, when I came home from school before doing my homework, I'd sit at the piano for ages and worship God there, on my own. That was my prayer time and my outlet. That's where I learnt to lead worship - I was leading myself to worship God. Because I played every day, I grew in confidence in my skill too.
After that, it was really when I did my internship that I was thrown in the deep end. I went from hardly having led, to leading 4 times a week - at alpha, church services, prayer meetings, cell groups. It really was sink or swim and I had to learn to swim! Learning with Tim Hughes was an amazing privilege.
Why is it so important for us to praise God in music and song?
It comes down to it being an expression of the relationship we have with Jesus. If you fall in love with someone, that affects everything - how you spend your time, what you say to them, how you treat them - because that relationship becomes important. Worship is the same: worship as our whole lives, and also as singing praises to God. There are songs of worship all over the Bible, particularly in the psalms.
How do you go about writing a song? Where do you start?
Often I get the seed of an idea during a time of worship. I will have my phone on me and I have been known to run out of the room straight afterwards to record the idea, and then work on it later! Or sometimes it will be a phrase of scripture and I'll want to carve a song around that. It's often the result of the work God's doing in me, or in our church, and over time it gets drawn out and the seed of an idea develops into a song.
A few months ago, I wrote a song and the starting place for that was that I had been praying lots about some situations where I really didn't like seeing people totally caught up in situations, unable to let go of them. Some lyrics about letting go came to me, and I named the song 'Letting Go'. Then I took it to a friend called Nick Herbert, and he said that as it happened, he had been thinking about the theme of holding or clinging onto the cross.
You can see that the underlying idea was the same but Nick helped turn the lyrics around and make them more positive: we positively cling to the cross of Jesus and in doing so, we let go of things around us. Co-writing has been really helpful for me, and once you put those dates in the diary with other songwriters, it gives a good sense of urgency which I find actually aids creativity.
Can you give us an example of a time in your life when it was hard to live for Jesus and how you got through it? What encouraged you to persevere?
I was a late developer in terms of having an identity crisis! When I was 20-21 and started leading a lot more and was exposed to leadership, people saw a certain side of me on stage. I really felt the pressure to be spiritually perfect because I was leading others in worship. But I knew that there was another side to my life - one where I found it really hard to read my bible and pray each day. Although I was doing more on the surface for God than ever before, underneath I was wrestling through with God what it meant to just be Beth, without any public profile and being ok with my weaknesses, and my strengths too. I'm so grateful for that time looking back on it, and the way that God brought me through that and gave me His true identity as a result.
What would your advice be to those who want to serve Jesus passionately and wholeheartedly, but aren't sure how they can best do this?
Look at what God's put in front of you. We can sometimes think that God will put some massive, grand plan in front of us - like moving overseas and selling everything we have. But sometimes God puts us in a boring town, or in a school where no one shares our views, but he has plans to use us in that place for His purposes. So often, God wants to use us exactly where we are.
Ask God what He has put in your hands, what he has put in front of you and don't be afraid to start small. Whoever can be trusted with little, can be trusted with much (Luke 16).