Some of you are currently thinking, “Who in the world is TobyMac?” Others may have reluctantly taken your children or teens to see him in concert in the past few years. And still others are currently singing “Heavenbound” or “Jesus Freak” in your head because you’ve been a fan for decades. I fall into the latter category. But more on that in a bit.
When it comes to birthday and Christmas presents, some of my favorite gifts to give and receive aren’t things but experiences. For several years my mom and I bought each other season tickets to the Muny amphitheater here in St. Louis. A few years ago, I took my sister-in-law and two oldest nieces to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. (That gift was for birthdays and Christmas, by the way. HP World doesn’t come cheap!) I could go on and on, but you’d get bored.
Last fall, when my teenage niece’s birthday gift fell through after an online ordering fiasco, I decided it was time for another experience. I asked Mackenzie* if there was a concert she wanted to go to.
She almost immediately responded: TobyMac’s Hits Deep Tour.
If you’re not familiar with TobyMac, he’s a Christian recording artist. In his early days with group DC Talk, he was a rapper. Over the past two decades he has focused more on hip-hop and pop music, but he’s pretty versatile as an artist.
I’ve been a fan since my first DC Talk in concert in the winter of 1990-91. Several members of my church youth group and I saw them in a theater in Hannibal, Missouri. This group included my sister-in-law (who was a decade away from marrying my brother) and her sister. I honestly can’t recall if my brother went or not. And if I were to ask him, he wouldn’t remember either. He remembers almost nothing from our childhood. But I digress.
When I first bought the tickets for the Hits Deep Tour, I wasn’t overly excited to go to a concert featuring five acts, two of which I wasn’t familiar with. And I didn’t think I knew a whole lot of TobyMac’s stuff from his time as a solo artist, though I ended up being wrong about that. But I was excited about taking Mackenzie to see someone her mother, other aunt, and I had seen in concert several times when we were teenagers.
As I thought more about it, though, I realized that TobyMac is a pretty amazing dude. Not only is he a great artist, but he also goes well above and beyond what’s expected in order to promote, support, and mentor other artists.
The amount of collaborations he has recorded is ridiculous. If you search “feat. TobyMac” on iTunes, you get 100 results, and that’s just the “most relevant” ones. There are likely many more. And he has been headlining his Hits Deep Tour for many years, where he tours with four to seven other artists, several of which are always up-and-coming acts.
A few years ago, I attended a concert in which the opening act had just recorded a song with TobyMac. They pretended like he was going to come out and sing it with them. The crowd went wild, and we were all disappointed to find out they were kidding. But you know what? If he actually showed up to sing at every concert with people he has recorded with, he’d be doing multiple concerts a day.
What a legacy he has. And he’s only 53! (A fact that shocked Mackenzie and her younger sister Lizzie*. I got an identical “What?!” from each of them when I mentioned it.)
So last week Mackenzie and I went to the concert, and it was a blast. I was surprised that I knew some of the songs by the other artists whose names I hadn’t recognized (but I now do, thanks to TobyMac).
And then TobyMac and the Diverse City Band came out. The energy was absolutely electrifying. The man knows how to put on a show. And it was so much fun to see 7,500 fans—from young kids to middle-aged dads—singing along and dancing in the stands. I definitely wasn’t able to stand still. I probably embarrassed my niece at times, but hey, isn’t that what aunts are for?
In the middle of it all, TobyMac told the story behind his song “Steal My Show.” I had heard the song on the radio countless times and could sing along to much of it, but I hadn’t ever really thought about the lyrics.
He’s literally telling God to steal his show every night.
He wants his concerts to always be about God and what He wants to say and do instead of TobyMac and what he wants. He’s asking God to do something bigger than he could ever do on his own.
(If you’re not familiar with “Steal My Show,” watch the video below. He also talks a bit about why he wrote the song and why he sings it.)
That’s when I texted a friend: “I want to be like TobyMac when I grow up.” She probably laughed or rolled her eyes at me, but I was serious, and I still am.
I want to encourage, inspire, and support others in their journeys as influencers of children and as people who aspire to live well and serve others. That’s why I started this website and blog.
I want to use the talents, experiences, and platform God has given me to support other writers and leaders through encouragement, connections, and collaborations.
But above all that, I want God to steal my show.
I know from experience that’s not always an easy thing to do. It can be hard to loosen my grip on my dreams, ambitions, plans, and ideas and let God do what only He can do. It might even mean letting go of the things I just said I want to do, if that’s what it takes. But I know it’s always worth it when I give up control to Him.
Oh, and I’ve set my alarm to play “Steal My Show” every morning. It never hurts to have a daily reminder that it’s not all about me.
*Not their real names
What do you think about the idea of saying to God: “Steal my show”? Have you done it? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments.