By Shane Scott —
He stood backstage of the Arizona State Fair stadium, ready to walk on and perform the same number one track that got him here, 15 years ago.
“This is Halloween weekend, the crowd should be jumpin’,” he thought.
Although he looked composed, in his heart a battle ensued—was this the right path? Did the music industry love him as much as he loved it—or at least as much as he had thought? Stepping out to sing his opening song in a venue big enough to hold 3,000 people, Montell Jordan greeted a crowd of seven (one of which was his manager).
“[At that moment] I remembered when I was trying to get into the music industry and I made a vow to God, ‘whether it’s 70,000 or seven, I’m going to give it my best effort,’” Jordan explained. “So I did my full concert. God was showing me that my words mean more than I thought they did, and that His words were more important than I thought they were.”
Though the moment hurt, it was this same instance that allowed Jordan to let go of the world that was holding him back from his true calling. Albeit a rough night, that 2010 concert was a clear message.
“God revealed to me that I was in love with something that could never love me back. The music industry could never love me back,” Jordan said. “I realized I was in an abusive place with the music business and I wanted to get out—any relationship where one party is giving all the love and it isn’t being returned, that’s an abusive relationship.”
For Jordan, 2010 was the end of his music career. He canceled all his remaining concerts and broke the last of his contracts.
Today, you can still find Jordan on stage singing. Only the venue has changed—the topic too. Every bit of his talent is now dedicated to God, which he offers through his work as the lead worship minister of Victory World Church, a congregation in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, that he has been attending for several years.
Often the praise team would invite Jordan to join them on stage. Each time, he’d politely refuse, boggled down by the concept that they would even want a mainstream R&B singer on their pulpit Sunday morning.
The songs that Jordan was known for weren’t exactly the most holy. He’d fought that internal conflict for years.
“Ultimately I found, since I was a child, that I was always supposed to be in ministry, I just never answered the call,” Jordan said. “I had a lot of people speaking to me as a kid saying, ‘Oh, Montell, I know one day you’re going to be a pastor.’ I told them ‘you’re crazy, there’s nothing in me that wants to be in ministry.’”
Though he’d been a Christian since birth, Jordan wanted to succeed in music—a pursuit that often tried every fiber of his morals. He was a man that loved God, but he was trying to work in the music industry without compromising. For Jordan, compromise was impossible because he didn’t know the difference between compromise and flexibility.
“It is extremely difficult to have faith in a faithless industry,” Jordan noted. The music business is not a faith-filled business. It is not predicated on faith at all. In fact, it’s almost counter culture to a walk of faith.
“The music business was an opportunity for me to compromise my faith on multiple occasions: my faith, my values, in the things I would sing about, in the things that were readily available to me through fame and notoriety,” he said. “In other words, the perks that came with the job.”
Lust, the artist’s biggest vice, was often catered to. Jordan had an issue with his physical desires, and because of this, every place he went was met with an opportunity to act on it. Alcohol also had it’s place–-he wasn’t addicted, but it was everywhere he went—the perfect bottle found itself on the top shelf, staring back at him, and it was always ‘on the house.’ In other words, he was predisposed. The artist was confessing he loved Jesus, which he did, but his walk did not reflect what he was speaking, Jordan explained.
Despite all the temptations, Jordan could not deny God, who time and time again, proved to be an undeniable force in his life.
“There are numerous instances that easily I should be divorced, easily I should be dead. But I have to believe that God had a hold of me and he preserved me,” he said.
In 1996, Jordan opened for the Boys II Men tour in Vancouver, Canada. During the show, Jordan and his entourage decided to prank the Motown band by jumping on stage and silly stringing them mid-performance. Being that he always worked as their opener, it was the first time Jordan had actually seen the band perform.
After the group introduced Jordan, he exited and noticed red lights flashing in the distance. The singer glanced to the other side of the stage to see a few men with their fingers jammed in their ears.
“At that moment, I realized something was about to explode,” Jordan said.
In an instant, flares shot across the stage. Jordan covered his ears and backed up against the backstage wall, only to realize it wasn’t really a wall, but a black curtain that hung from the 7 foot stage. He went straight through it. Falling straight back with his hands over his ears, Jordan landed directly on the back of his head.
“It took a little time for people to get back to me where I was, so I had some time to myself with God, and I wondered if I was dying,” Jordan said.
Within moments of the fall, Boys II Men cut the music and ordered the stage lights to be turned on. Trembling and uncertain of what else to do, there in front 13,000 fans, Boys II Men led the crowd in a prayer for God to save Jordan’s life.
“By the time the paramedics got me and took me to the hospital, I didn’t have a concussion, nor broken bones; other than being sore, there was nothing to show I had fallen off a 7 foot stage on my head,” he said. “I would call that a modern day miracle. I believe that the 13,000 people praying for me in that arena saved my life; I always say Boys II Men saved my life.”
Moments like these, coupled with a lot of failures in the music business, experiencing life tragedy and facing difficulties, Jordan inevitably grew closer to his life of faith and further from life in the industry.
Jordan sees no coincidence in his life. In fact, he sees it all as divine orchestration.
“I’ve seen some things. I’ve been to Australia, I’ve been in fancy restaurants, I’ve been on private islands, I’ve been with government officials, but God said you think you’ve seen some things but what I’m going to show you will surpass all those things,”
he said. “God didn’t show me what was next, but he said I need to lay music down first.”
Though the artist didn’t know it, Dennis Rouse, senior pastor of Victory World Church had his eye on Jordan as their future worship pastor. Unaware of Jordan’s divorce from his former career, Rouse offered him the position only two months later.
Fast forward to today, Jordan is using his talent to praise God, singing before the congregation, leading sermons, and even recording albums dedicated to his new life of faith, with a collective of church musicians known as the Victory World Music.
Apart from serving his church, Jordan is often looking for a new person to help.
“My song, “This is how we do it” kind of gives me a calling card to go back to hip hop, to go back to music, to go back to sports (the NBA), because everyone knows me for that song,” he explained. “I can go places the rest of my ministry can’t.”
People know who Jordan is, and the life transition that he has made, many of which are fellow artists that he talks to on a regular basis. “They’re people who love God, but are not walking the right life because they’re still hooked on the music business, or Hollywood, or fame,” he said.
“I try to encourage them, to mentor them, to counsel their marriages, to give them hope that when they do finally answer the call God is giving them, that he will be faithful to them just as he was faithful to me.”
The singer even manages to counsel people he’s never met. Just over a month ago, he met a Facebook friend that he had never met in the three years since adding him to his network, simply because they both had tickets to the 76ers game. Jordan ended up inviting the man and his other friend who came along, to join him in his box seats, in which he spent 25 minutes offering the other man advice on his marriage.
Jordan co–wrote a soon to be released spousal counseling book along with his wife entitled This is How We Do It: Making Your Marriage a Masterpiece. It encourages men and their wives to keep going and avoid ‘throwing in the towel.’ The singer gave the man a free copy of his new book, who promised to read through with his wife and emails Jordan with weekly updates of their progress.
“I believe there is an attack on the institution of marriage,” the singer said. “My wife and I have a goal to see at least a million marriages saved. If we can save marriage, we can save family. If we can save family, we can save whole communities and churches.”
It is Mr. and Mrs. Jordan’s hope that their own experiences and hardships within the sacrament of marriage will strengthen, encourage and save the relationships of many others. But they’re not just writing together. Just weeks ago, they started a 40 day fast—which they’ve attributed to saving their lives.
Within the second week of their fast, while putting their children to bed, the couple smelled a strong odor of food. Since they had not been cooking, the smell was unexpected. Mrs. Jordan followed the scent all the way to their basement two floor below them. Jordan followed after and searched around what Mrs. Jordan believed to be coming from the fridge. When he finally decided to lift the appliance aside, he found a growing electrical flame burning—a flame that had began to quickly burn through the majority of food in their fridge.
“If we hadn’t been fasting, our senses wouldn’t have been heightened, the place would have lit on fire and we probably would have died in our sleep.”
Though Jordan firmly believes the Lord continues to bless him, he knows he must work harder.
“I felt like when I was in the music business, I led a lot of people in the wrong direction. I sang things that probably caused people to cheat on their spouses, to have sex out of marriage. I represented the music industry well and because of that, I probably led a lot of people on the pathway toward hell,” he explained. “My goal is now to lead more people to heaven than I possibly could have led to hell. Maybe some people who were on the road to hell will see my U-turn and change too.”