For King & Country say unresolved personal issues become social issue: A result of ‘brokenness’

For King & Country press photo, 2022
For King & Country press photo, 2022 | Rogers and Cowan

Grammy Award-winning duo for King & Country released their new album What Are We Waiting For? this month, and singer Luke Smallbone said he hopes the collection of songs will call people to action on personal issues that often become social issues.

“One of the reasons why we named the album What Are We Waiting For is because I think that answer is different for every single person, the things that I may be waiting for, the things that you may be waiting for, are different. That's why I think it's important to ask,” Smallbone, who fronts the band with his brother, Joel, shared.

The inspiration for the album came from the wide range of pressures people experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and everything that followed. 

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“I think that over the last couple of years, we have very quickly realized that it's been a strange time,” the 35-year-old singer said.

“A lot of the things that I think the pandemic has brought up are [questions] like, 'I have got dormant dreams that have been laying in my heart and my mind, and life is fragile," he continued. "Why aren’t I chasing them?' I think that's one thing that people are asking. I think another thing that people are asking themselves is, 'I've held bitterness and resentment to whoever it might be. Why am I holding on to that?' When life is as fragile as seemingly it's been illustrated by the last couple years, these are questions that we all need to be asking ourselves.” 

Smallbone said he hopes listeners “don't just ask the question,” but that “we actually answer it, and we action it.” 

The Christian band recently released the video for the song “Broken Halos.” The tune carries a deep message that points listeners to their need for God.

"We look at the last couple years, it became very clear that if you're on this side of the street, I'm going to be on this side of the street, and there's just no middle ground for anything,” Smallbone said.

“I remember seeing posts on social media of people saying, 'Well, if you don't do this, and then you're this and then that, we've known each other for 15 years, I'm no longer your friend anymore.' I was like, 'What are we doing? Are we an elementary school here?'"

The issues became so “intense” that the musician said he saw friends on social media give ultimatums to those who didn’t agree with them.

"I think that's heartbreaking to me that everybody's got reasons for saying the things that they say. But at the end of the day, we say hurtful things when we've been hurt ourselves," he said.

"And I think the sooner that we can realize that we've all made mistakes, even though we may project on Instagram that we're one way, the photos that we're not capturing may indicate something different. You know what? That should lead us to a place of compassion, it should lead us, hopefully, to a place of empathy."

Smallbone said “Broken Halos" is a challenge to himself and to listeners.

“If somebody doesn't look like you, somebody doesn't act like you, if somebody doesn't think like you, that's not a reason for you to find reasons to disagree," he contended. "In some cases, it's like, 'Why can't we find some commonalities that don't have to be that we're all in agreement?' But when I look in somebody else's eyes, and I see pain in their eyes, I know what that pain feels like, because I've been hurt and everybody has been.”

The Australian native encouraged people to show each other “compassion.”

"In some cases, I think that's what Jesus would do. That's what we're trying to do,” he emphasized. “We're trying to live out what that looks like. Our hope is that 'Broken Halos' illustrates that story about that challenge.”

For King & Country wants their listeners to embrace the idea that everyone shares the same basic human experiences. Several songs on the new album are meant to inspire people to focus on what brings humanity closer rather than the differences that drive people apart.

What Are We Waiting For? centers around a trio of timely topics for an album forged as the nation struggled with political tensions, racial divisions and a pandemic.

The single “Relate” became the duo’s first track off the record to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart this year. The song highlights the ongoing search for compassion and empathy amid differences, a message both “Unity” and “Together” also promote.

The Smallbones, now residents of Nashville, Tennessee, say they don't mind the criticism that they are becoming too involved in social issues.

"Social issues are essentially personal issues just multiplied," the artist said.

“So if you're not talking about some social issues, then in some cases, you're actually not talking about personal issues. At the end of the day, 'Unity' or 'Relate' is a personal struggle. If you multiply it by the thousands, it becomes a social issue."

Christians should look at social issues as a result of “brokenness,” he said.

"So when I talk about unity, I need to be unified with people that I disagree with [first],” Smallbone declared. “It doesn't necessarily mean you don't call spade a spade on certain issues. I'm not saying that. But I am saying there are always places to be able to find some commonality, some common ground.”

The father of three explained that when a young child loses a toy, they don’t want a new toy. They cry because they are hurt. 

"At the end of the day, when that little child is hurt, I know what it feels like to look in the mirror and see hurt in my own eyes,” Smallbone added.

“So though it may be easy for me to say, 'Just get over it already.' That doesn't help solve any problems. But for me to look at that child and go, 'I'm so sorry, that you lost that lovey, I'm so sorry that you lost that toy. And you know what? Even though I can get you the exact same toy, that toy had your fingerprints on it, that toy became your toy and I'm brokenhearted for you.'”

"At that point, that relationship, though you haven't actually solved the problem, it has a way forward,” he assured. “And I hope that the social issues that we're talking about that's the point, we're trying to illustrate that just because something happened doesn't mean you have to solve all the problems, or you're going to fix everything, but the acknowledgment of 'x or y,' that's a place that can lead to healing.”

“Unsung Hero,” also featured on What Are We Waiting For? is dedicated to the Smallbones' parents, Helen and David Smallbone. The elder Smallbones journeyed from Australia to the United States and worked hard to help support their children’s musical ambitions. Three of their children, Luke and Joel of for King & Country and Rebecca St. James went on to become superstars in the Christian music industry.

“Unsung Hero” is more than a song, as the family is producing a movie of the same title. The movie will focus on the Smallbone family’s journey from Australia and will introduce the world to the family matriarch whose faith helped her family of nine stay strong and resilient through life’s struggles and adventures.

What Are We Waiting For? is now available everywhere music is streamed.

Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic

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