Todd Tilghman, winner of NBC’s hit series “The Voice,” has stopped pastoring after winning the national singing competition and now describes himself as more of a "boots-on-the-ground" minister.
Tilghman, a Mississippi pastor at the time, made headlines last year during the COVID-19 pandemic as he rose to victory during the competition. He told The Christian Post in a recent interview that he believes his time on the show was “ordained” by God. And now he's adding author to his list of accomplishments with the upcoming book, Every Little Win: How Celebrating Small Victories Can Lead to Big Joy, which will be available on June 22.
Tilghman and his wife, Brooke, decided to co-author a book after she was told that their story would resonate with others. The couple, who've been married for 22 years, have been together since they were kids.
"We all really do have a unique story," Tilghman told CP. "We just don't see it as really unique."
Written with Tricia Goyer, Tilghman and his wife said they spent several days talking to Goyer on Bluetooth, telling her stories about their life and marriage, and that is how the book was born.
The book delves into topics “from adopting two children from South Korea, to fighting for their newborn son's life, to pastoring a small congregation through adversity, to joining Team Blake on 'The Voice,'” according to its description.
The couple aims to help others focus on joy during life's challenges.
"Hopefully, people will read it and be like, this is all of our experience. Now, yours is different than mine, maybe or maybe not,” he said.
“We almost divorced," Tilghman added. "She literally had divorce papers coming. One of our kids was really ill. She's dealt with really major mental health issues with depression and anxiety, so we covered that in the book. We've adopted two girls from [South] Korea ... I was on a TV show. My oldest son, believe it or not, was on a whole other reality TV show. My oldest son had some viral success, but the subject matter was questionable to a lot of the religious community, and that was a battle that we had to face. We talked about that in the book.”
The minister and singer revealed that he and his wife wanted to be relatable to people and let everyone know that “maybe you didn't go on 'The Voice' and win, but that doesn't mean that you're not living a victorious life if you'll look at the little wins that you have.”
Following his big win on “The Voice,” Tilghman decided to stop pastoring at his church, Cornerstone Church in Meridian, Mississippi. He said the show was "an avenue in my life" at a time when he needed something different.
“In so many different ways that show and what that show has done in my life has been like a miracle, really,” he said.
Some of his performances reminded him of the importance of his family and all they've been through.
"By that time, it was full-on COVID so we were remote. We did film our performances live, but it was live to tape. And they were able to put some little photos of my family [in the show] and stuff and ... in a good way, it just broke my heart,” Tilghman revealed.
He described the competition as a “huge blessing” in his life at a time when he had felt that he was looking for a shift.
"A lot of people don't know, but in 2017, maybe even 2016, I felt that a shift was coming. I just didn't know what it was. As boots on the ground followers of Jesus-type people, our ministry has really amped up a lot,” Tilghman said of where his ministry is now, adding, “But my traditional pastoral ministry ended ... a couple of months back.”
Although he no longer pastors in a conventional way, Tilghman said the ministry doesn't stop.
"If I were to say some of these things while I was still in pastoral ministry, I feel like people would think that it might be a little self-serving. … But now, on the other side of the curtain, I'm not in full-time pastoral ministry, so it's not going to serve me really in any way to tell people that I really don't think people understand the weight of what it is to pastor a church,” he said.
Tilghman has been singing in the church since he was 8 years old, and now recording songs for his first album he candidly shared some of the pressures he faced while he was serving in full-time pastoral ministry. Among the practical expenses he listed were church bills and repairs.
"Then [there's] the criticism that you get from people. But then on the other side of it, there's this heavy weight when you're bringing the Word to people every week,” Tilghman continued. “You want to be doing the right thing, and then more times than I would even care to admit, you stand over the casket of like a 20-year-old person and you don't know what to say.”
During his last Sunday as an official lead pastor, he confessed to his congregation that oftentimes he didn't have the right words to say, but if ever they needed him, he was there.
"It's such a hard job because people think this guy's got the answers and you really don't,” the father of eight maintained.
"I hope people don't get the idea that I'm anti-church. I'm pro-church. I love the church. But I do think it's important that we don't find out our identity in church,” Tilghman added. “I don't care that we find it in being part of the church, which we are, we're the Church. So if we can find our identity in being part of God's Church in the world, ... that's OK. But I just don't want us to find our identity [solely in the local church].”
Tilghman said that with COVID-19, he told his wife that he hoped the Church would “reset” and “return to what we're supposed to because it's not just coming together every Sunday.”
"We're not supposed to be identified by our joining together on Sunday, even though that's part of it. I hope it was a shot in the arm for all of us,” he added.
A major lesson he wants people to take away from his book, Every Win, is the importance of objectivity.
"It's important to try to be objective sometimes. Just because this is what you see, [it] doesn't mean this is all of it,” he explained. “One thing I hope the Church can learn from, not from me, from the Scripture and from the history of the Church — do pray, by all means do — but don't try to pray your way out of pain that you're supposed to walk through. The Scripture says the ones who suffer with Him, reign with Him. We're supposed to walk with pain sometimes.
"So even if you're in pain, and someone has hurt you, it's not to say that they're right and you're wrong. As much as it is to say, take a step back and see if you can see a bigger picture, and that's really a win,” Tilghman added.
The singer also wanted to share a message for anyone who might think he's walking away from his faith.
"I've had a lot of people say to me that they're really disappointed that I left the church. ... I didn't leave the church,” he told CP. “I am very much in the Church still, and whatever part I'm supposed to be in the Church. I have no intentions whatsoever of walking away from my faith,” he stressed.
Tilghman testified that “God and God alone” is who gets the glory for the things that have happened in his life.
“I believe the Word of God," he declared. "I [also] believe so much, not all, but so much of the teaching that I've heard. My faith is mostly intact because of experiences I've had, not just what I heard or what I read, but what I live.”
He ended the interview by letting everyone know they are “loved.”
For more details about Every Little Win, click here.