Alumnus singer/songwriter, worship leader and blogger Tim Timmons (‘98) says he’sknown about Jesus his whole life, but isn’t sure that he ever truly knew Him until now. Timmons was diagnosed with an incurable cancer about 13 years ago, but sees himself, above all else, a missionary to Christians. He travel around the world,using his music to gather the church and seeking God’s kingdom first. The applied communications major and father of four, was a hallmate and soccer teammate of George Williamson, the director of worship ministries at PLNU. He married Hilary Larson Timmons, and has toured 48 states. A Christmas Together tour is his current venture, coming to Maranatha Chapel in San Diego on Dec. 10. The Point caught up with Timmons to hear about everything from his favorite pastime from PLNU to what’s next in his career.
The Point: How did you get from PLNU to where you are now?
Tim Timmons: That is a crazy question. When I left Point Loma, I did so many things that I never thought I’d ever do. I never thought I’d work in a church, then I ended-up working at a couple churches (Saddleback and Mariners Church in Orange County for 15 years). I never thought I’d get into Christian music, and it’s what Jesus invited me into. A lot of what I said I’d never do, I’m doing and I’m so grateful.
What is one memory you have from PLNU that you always go back to?
TT: I’m a huge Point Loma fan. I love it there. I think this is probably cliché, but [the one memory I go back to is] meeting my wife and becoming best friends with her for three years. Then dating her after those three years because she is the best thing on the planet. She’s my great memory; she’s amazing.
How did you decide on music as your career? Was there ever a time when you weren’t going to do that?
TT: I always knew music was what I wanted to do. Jesus has brought me through an interesting life, but I love leading worship, but I didn’t think that is what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I was gifted at it, but I kind of wanted to go out and play music in the mainstream arena. I ended up working at a church for four years with my wife and we lead worship for a high school ministry. Then we decided after four years that we were going to leave and pursue my music career. It was two weeks before I wasn’t going to have a job, insurance or anything like that that, I was given five years to live and I was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. So Mariners Church allowed us to stay on staff to work with insurance and everything.
Through all of that, Jesus changed my heart. I guess it just seemed like the church was a bunch of people hearing the same thing; who cares if they heard more about Jesus? They all knew Jesus. There was kind of a change in my heart. If I could actually invite the people as a church — there is nothing about a church building in the New Testament, we can gather as a “church” [body]– and re-present Jesus through music and worship, I think that is even more powerful than me going into the mainstream music scene and me getting one fan at a time. But if I can encourage 1,000 people in a room who actually know Jesus and start re-presenting Him, each of them know 10 people I don’t know. It becomes more than addition, it becomes multiplication.
Was there a specific moment that you knew your music had an impact? When did you know that it had reach?
TT: That answer would’ve been a lot different two years ago. I signed a record deal with Providence, Sony’s Christian arm, about two years ago. If that would’ve happened earlier in my life, I would’ve thought I was arriving. But it is really sixth or seventh on my excitement list these days. I just see how Jesus changed the entire world with 12 people. All my life I have always been about numbers and caring about the size of the gathering. How silly? How “American Dream” is that? I’m just trying to figure out how to go where Jesus wants me to go and if there are 12 people there, then awesome. If there are 100,000 people there, then awesome. I get letters and emails every day from people that say that I have invited them into this religion somehow through my music. It’s so beautiful and such an honor.
I think my favorite part about my “success” thus far is that I gave up about five years ago. It’s a pretty good story–I was journaling, like a good Christian boy should do, and I just sensed, I wrote this down in my journal:“You’re in the preface of your second book in the trilogy of your life.” I thought that was so stupid, like who makes that up and calls that Jesus? I kept thinking about it all week, then I told my wife about it, then the next week I got emails from people all over the country saying, “Tim, you don’t know me, but you’re starting a new season. Follow Jesus, He’ll walk with you.” Everybody said the same thing. It was very bizarre.
Since that point, I think Jesus has invited me to let go of doing anything to build our kingdoms. I wrote the last song on my “Cast My Cares” record called “Only One Standing.” And the chorus goes: I surrender all/ Would You tear down all these walls/ Would You let my kingdom fall/ For Yours alone will be/ The only one standing. At that point, I started writing a little “x” on my wrist just to remind me to let my kingdom fall. It is not about my kingdom today. If, Jesus, You want me to do something great for Your kingdom today and You open those doors and I get to be a part of that, then awesome. If not? Awesome. It was two years of living that out and figuring out what that looks like. All of a sudden, all of this stuff explodes. I haven’t done a dang thing for it. I write songs and I try to figure out how to simply follow Jesus. I don’t try to be this Christian rock star, which is something that I don’t care about. He just keeps opening doors. It is much more fun to keep letting Him open doors than for me to try and open them.
You’ve said that you wouldn’t trade cancer for anything. What has cancer, and your journey with it, taught you about yourself?
TT: Cancer is stupid. I’m not a fan in any way, shape or form. I think cancer is ridiculous and dumb. But I will say that God is good. In the midst of any trial, any sorrow we have the ability to either lean in to Him or stick up our fist at Him. One of my blog posts is titled “The Gift of Cancer.” I think that the gift of cancer, or any kind of sorrow, is the gift of perspective. Whatever you’re going through today — and if you’re not going through something painful right now, my dad always says, ‘Wait a week, it’s coming’– we have the opportunity to lean in and ask Jesus for perspective. Whose kingdom are we seeking first? Is it the kingdom of Tim? Or the kingdom of God? I keep finding more and more joy this way. It’s exciting because my whole life I have created the fruit of my labor. I would say, ‘You shouldn’t fear or worry, you’re a Christian. Buck up!’ God says, that is not your job. You don’t have to make self-discipline. It is the fruit of the Spirit, so it is His job to do that and He does it in me. What’s so fun is that He keeps making that in me and I haven’t done Jack-crap for it. It’s so much fun.
What’s next from here/for the new year? Any goals?
TT: In life, my goal is to seek first the kingdom of God above my own. As a dad and husband, my goal is to love my wife so well and that my kids will see that, and that will be the greatest gift to them. Musically, I am recording my Sony record number two in January and February in Nashville. It should be released next September. That’s exciting. I have a couple tours in discussion, some TV stuff that’s lining up–everything is really opening up and going crazy. But, you know, the best part about all of this is that I haven’t done anything. I have not opened one door, figuratively, in over four years. I haven’t asked for a gig or a record deal; I haven’t asked for anything. I haven’t pushed. It’s so much more fun just following Jesus and letting Him do what’s best for His kingdom.