Aaron Shust is a contemporary Christian music artist who won Songwriter of the Year along with Song of the Year at the 2007 Dove Awards for his hit “My Savior My God.”
Shust recently had a phone interview with The Christian Post, discussing the influences behind his music career, as well as some of the challenges he has faced in his life and how music and turning to God have helped him overcome those struggles.
Born in Chicago, Ill., Shust has been drawn to singing and spreading the message of God’s perfect plan ever since he was a young boy. Talking with CP, the singer/songwriter shared how his music is a way for him to reach out to people and convince them to place their trust in this plan. Shust also explained why his award-winning song “My Savior My God” from his "Anything Worth Saying" album means so much to him, and why it is a hallmark of what he believes and wants to share with the world.
CP: When did you start seeking God through your music?
Shust: I made a decision to ask Jesus into my heart when I was just four, though I remember thinking when I was nine that I did not fully realize what my decision meant and that I was just reiterating the words of others. When I was 13, I was watching a video of a live Michael W. Smith concert, and I remember thinking to myself “that’s what I want to do.” I had been singing in the church since I was three, I was taking piano lessons, music was my extra-curricular activity. I studied music in college, and then moved on into full-time ministry in Atlanta in 2000.
God basically puts the steps before us, and we should be careful to follow.
CP: What would you say directly to some of your fans who are facing hardships, especially now when the economy is terrible and they are looking at you and your music for inspiration?
Shust: What I see myself doing in my music, and as a worship leader, is I try to create songs that allow people to engage in the worship of who God is. God is sovereign, God is all powerful, God is all-loving, God is in control - and I hope that this image that I try to paint is accurate, and allows the listener to be reminded that our God is trustworthy. He has a higher plan for us, and even if at the time we can not understand what in the world is going on with our lives, we can trust in God.
We can look at the Old Testament as an example - people were complaining and running from God towards other pleasures, but God’s plan was perfect even if they did not understand it. I think it is a good reminder for us that His ways are so much higher than our ways, and He has a plan for each and every single one of us.
CP: Have you yourself ever experienced the feeling of losing faith at some point in your life?
Shust: I certainly have had brokenness and travail in varying degrees and different ways - especially when my boy was in the hospital and we were experiencing relationship stress. But it’s funny, because I recently took a test on spiritual gifts that my wife had for her Sunday school, and it turned out that my top gift was the gift of faith. We all have stress in our lives, but regardless of what it was - sickness, death, tension, I can say that by the grace of God I have not wavered in believing that He is good, that He is sovereign, and that He is love.
CP: Was there anything specific to your circumstance that you tried that brought you back to God?
Shust: I think that adversity brings us back, or brought me back to God. The biggest hurdle that I have to overcome is the guilt that I feel for not seeking Him so closely when I do not feel adversity - when I am under the sun, so to say. But God forgives us, and I think about how I melt when my young boys come to me to say “daddy I’m sorry,” for whatever, and I feel it is the same with God.
It is the realization that I am not in control of my life that brings me back down to my knees, and I have to tell God “I am sorry that I have not spent the time that I need to spend with you, but I need you now,” and I believe He welcomes us back like the father who welcomes the Prodigal son back home.
CP: Is there a verse in the Bible that you have come back to over many periods and that means something important to you?
Shust: Yes, it is found in Luke 6, and it says: “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” As I grow older, I realize that this means that God gave everyone a gift so that He is able to speak through us. He chooses flesh, just as Jesus said “I am sending my spirit, and I am going to work through you.” I look at the platform that I have, when people come to my concerts and hear what I am singing and saying, and even now in this interview, and I feel that I have the responsibility to give words of encouragement and words of light that point to God.
What I pour into my life, and what I spend my life doing, is what is going to come out of my mouth. If I fill my heart with what is above, and of earthly things, that is what is going to come out.
CP: There is a track on your Christmas album, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” where the chorus is sung in Latin. What gave you the inspiration to do that?
Shust: We were driving through Atlanta, Georgia just after Thanksgiving one day and I turned on the radio. I asked myself “what do I want to hear?” Now, I loved the Rat Pack, I loved the Bing Cosby era, I love the classics, but I also love the traditional, sacred-sounding Christmas songs, and orchestras and the boys choir. ... I think that the Latin text gives “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” an ancient sound. It always been one of my favorite songs, and musically we tried to give it that old folk sound but combine it with a new vibe as well. It’s a message that was true today and was true so many years ago as well.
CP: Are you planning remixes of your Christmas album, or any charity events for the holidays?
Shust: Not this year - now I am just happy to be back home with my family. I am writing a lot of material, however, that I am enjoying, and hopefully I might have a new Christmas album next time. I can only write Christmas songs during this time of year I am very seasonal in this way. I actually collaborated with an old Christmas carol by Martin Luther to come up with the third song “God Has Come To Earth.” Hopefully I will be able to re-record some of my old songs as well as add new ones to a future Christmas record.
CP: Which Christian musicians have inspired you as a Christian artist specifically?
Shust: In 2007, I did a tour with Michael W. Smith, and it was incredible getting to open for one of my heroes. I listen to a lot of dc Talk and Third Day, and I got to tour with Toby Mack in 2007 on his Christmas tour. Getting to meet all these heroes of mine who are now becoming colleagues was a really cool thing for me. Seeing and hearing how they interact, and listening to their stories of the past makes me feel like a kid in a candy store.
CP: What has the song “My Savior My God,” for which you won a Dove award, meant for you?
Shust: That song is a hallmark of what I believe and what is most dear to my heart. I used the words verbatim from an old hymn, and wrote the music around it. When I first read those words in that hymn book, they grabbed my heart immediately. I don’t understand all of the mysteries of God and His perfect plan, but I know that He is my savior, and He is always there and always going to be. I wanted to summarize what we were singing in the chorus, and make the verses meditative in a way. I wanted to be sure that this song, which I would be singing night after night for years, would be reflective of what I most deeply believe.
Check out Aaron Shust online.