Country music singer Granger Smith is laying down his music career to follow Jesus.
The 43-year-old made the big announcement Tuesday on social media, where has more than 1.2 million followers, ahead of his final tour that begins Thursday in Oshkosh, Wisc. and ends in July.
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“When I read Mark 8 in the Bible and Jesus says, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’ That image of taking up the cross, the most gruesome form of execution, to take up that cross and follow and deny himself, that form of self-denial is just something that I’m not doing in country music,” Smith told his fans. “To get up on a stage and just need glorification, just need praise, and if I don’t get it then that means my career is not doing well, and so I work harder for that. I can’t reconcile those two things, y’all. I can’t.”
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The “Backroad Song” singer said he understands if his fans don’t get it.
“Maybe you’ll be upset about it, maybe you’ll think that I’m deceiving you or that I’m following some sky god or maybe you think that I’m not relevant at all to even matter — and that’s okay,” he said.
The country music star is working on getting a master’s degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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“I have felt a strong desire to pursue ministry, and this doesn’t mean I’m gonna start a church or a crusade or a revival, this means that me and my family are going to serve our local church,” Smith said.
“We’re going to pour into that church as members and have my pastors and elders pour into me and disciple me and teach me as I sit under their wise teaching,” he added. “And Lord-willing one day they can affirm me into the next steps of what that might look like to glorify God best from my platform.”
Smith also revealed his upcoming memoir, “Like a River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward After Loss and Heartache,” will be released on Aug. 1. The book will tell his emotional journey through the ups and downs after his 3-year-old son River’s death.
He called the book his “most important message” he’s worked on about what the Lord has done in his life.
Smith made a longer video on YouTube with his wife, Amber, explaining more about the decision after touring for 24 years.
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Caleb Parke is the SMG managing editor. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and connect with him at calebparke.com.