"We want to see our lives as
ministry. It's easy to get clouded by a record deal...
We want to keep our heads clear. I don't want to see
my line of work as anymore spectular or anymore noteworthy
than anyone else's."
Michael Cook: Leaving an 'Imprint'
on the World
By Jennifer E. Jones
January 25, 2005
JENNIFER: Happy belated birthday, by the way.
I know it’s late but ...
MICHAEL: Oh, thanks. Thank you.
JENNIFER: How was it? Weren’t you on tour?
MICHAEL: I was in London with Jaci [Velasequez]
doing a show there. It was good. In London, it’s really
JENNIFER: Did you get a chance to see any of
MICHAEL: Not as much as I would have liked.
I did a show in Wisconsin the day before so I went straight to
London and then straight home. So it could have been better but
it’s definitely a city I’d like to spend more time
JENNIFER: How has the tour with Jaci been so
MICHAEL: It’s been great. It’s such
a wonderful opportunity to play for her audience. They respond
pretty well, so that’s been positive.
JENNIFER: Let's backtrack. How did you end up
being a worship leader?
MICHAEL: I got a part-time job doing worship
at a church on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings while I was
still in college. And then when I graduated I started doing it
full time at a church here in Noblesville, Indiana. I really enjoyed
doing that but then the opportunity came along to tour with Jaci.
That's what I felt my gifts were more towards -- songwriting,
storytelling and just sharing my life in that way. So I ended
up leaving but we still go to the church. I lead worship every
once in a while.
JENNIFER: Did you meet your wife there?
MICHAEL: No, we met in college. We've been married
two and half years now.
JENNIFER: How has that been starting a whole
new life as a musician and a husband?
MICHAEL: It's a new set of challenges. It's
not like she can quit her job and go on the road. She's the breadwinner.
So it's tough being gone a lot. We're thankful that we don't have
kids yet because that would make it even harder. She's really
JENNIFER: Let's talk about Imprint.
There are so many good songs on here. I'm listening to "Old
Man in New York". I've sat next to that guy on the subway
who's kinda crazy and is trying to tell me his life story. It's
interesting how this song is really about the homeless. How did
it change your perspective?
MICHAEL: It's easy to brush the homeless off
and say that they don't want to help themselves. But I think that's
a cop-out. The Gospel gives each of us the benefit of a doubt.
Yet so often in life we don't [do the same]. It changed my whole
perspective on the homeless. For example, people say, 'Don't give
them money because they will just buy alcohol.' But giving them
the benefit of the doubt says otherwise. I don't think we can
relate with the ministry of Jesus without taking into account
the major problem of homelessness and poverty.
JENNIFER: The album looks out on society but
it also looks within. Do you find the tough spots in life are
where the inspiration comes from?
MICHAEL: Yeah. It's funny because the best songs
come from the hardest experiences. I try to write out of my real
life and hope that people can relate with them and be challenged.
JENNIFER: What's the one moment in your life
that has sparked the most inspiration?
MICHAEL: When I got saved. I grew up in the
church but I really made a decision for myself when I was in college.
I went to see a Rich
Mullins concert when he was still alive. He is the single
reason why I started writing songs. He just wrote real songs about
his life. He put it out there, and he wasn't so concerned with
how they'd be received. He wrote some challenging stuff.
JENNIFER: How did you take it when you heard
MICHAEL: It was rough. I was visiting a church
in Michigan, and I played one of his songs. I hadn't even heard
yet. Somebody came up to me afterwards and said how moved they
were by it and how sad they were by his death. Whoa! It was really
JENNIFER: You just came back from Ukraine with
Mission To Ukraine.
MICHAEL: Yes, this past summer. That was an
JENNIFER: How did it change your outlook?
MICHAEL: In America we often say that we're
so blessed. But when I came back, I thought, we are blessed but
sometimes these material things can be distractions. We have all
these conveniences here and all the money to buy them. We get
so distracted from what the real purpose of our lives are. Over
there, they don't have all these things so they end up talking
to each other. It made me think. I've got people I've known for
three or four years, and I don't even know their life story. I
go to Ukraine, and I got to know some of these people in a week.
It's just because of our culture. It doesn't promote that kind
of reaction. If we have to do something, it's play video games
or go to a movie.
JENNIFER: With this album coming out, what do
you want people to grasp when they pick up Imprint?
MICHAEL: The overall theme is my desire to be
this person that God wants me to be, and my inability to get there
on my own. We can't understand God's grace until we understand
our ugliness. More than anything, God loves us just the way we
are no matter what we do or have done.
For more information on Michael Cook, go to his Web
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