Without an unwelcome summer sickness, a youthful Chris Tomlin may never have started strumming a guitar.

“I was sick over the summer holiday from school. So instead of playing baseball outside with all of my friends, I couldn’t go outside. So my dad said, ‘Hey you need to learn something!’ So he put a guitar in my hands, and started teaching me to play guitar. It was really simple – simple chords.”

It didn’t take long before his dad’s lessons started to take root.

“So I started playing in church as a little kid. I’d play songs on Sunday nights, and it was just a really sweet time. Those early days – I had no idea. There was no idea in my mind that this would bring me where I am at this moment!”

“But, even as a young kid, I felt something when people would sing. I loved it when the church would sing. When I would play songs, or try to write a song that people would sing along to. It just was amazing. I didn’t even know what a worship leader was, and what worship music was! I just look back and see how God was kind of putting that in me that way.”

Chris’ dad, with the quote of the century, declared during that season in his son’s life:

“This guitar thing is a hobby son. You need a real job!”

With laughter in his voice, Chris looks back on the advice he didn’t take.

“We had that conversation! I mean, obviously nobody in my family had ever done anything like that. And having a career, making a living in music, that’s just something not a lot of people do! I just still feel very blessed. I was going to college to be a physical therapist! I thought I had to get a real job, you know?! I’m glad it worked out.”


Chris Tomlin is the beloved singer, songwriter who the numbers say is the most sung songwriter in history.

On the Road with Chris Tomlin

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