We caught up with artist-songwriter, Warren Barfield.
Warren, tell me about your latest project, Worth Fighting For. Where did the music come from?
My songs come out of what’s happening in my personal life. It’s a lot like journaling every day and then you look back and say, “Okay, this is what God was trying to teach me.”
When I look back, I felt like God was saying “Get your priorities in order”, make sure the things that are really important are the things that I’ve made important in my life. God was saying “Okay, these are the things that are of value. These are the things that are worth fighting for in your life.” The record is about that — all those different things.
As I go through a season of life, as I grow, my songs come out of that growth. I try to use the platform I’ve been given to very openly share that with others and try to encourage them to come along on the journey.
God was teaching me to chase the things that really matter — and that was the change for me. Sitting down and making a list, Okay, this is what’s important. When I die, these are things that will have counted. And my position, my success, trophies I won — will not matter. It’s my relationships. What kind of friend was I? What kind of believer was I? What kind of husband was I?
The music really spoke to me; particularly Love is Not a Fight. Does that sound true to you? Is there a different feel to this album?
Absolutely. From my first record into my second, a lot of things that I thought were secure in my life proved not to be. You get to a stage in your life where you feel like you’ve made the right choices. And then something happens and the rug gets pulled out from underneath you and you’re stumbling for your footing. You’re thinking, Nothing’s real anymore. Nothing’s true. I don’t know what my hope is in. Going into this record God reached down, put me back on my feet, and said, “You can’t stand on those things. Those things will not last. Those things are temporary.” And he put a post-it note on all the things in my life that are temporary. “Don’t focus all your energy on this ”cause this will not last.”
This record sounds so different because it’s hopeful in that sense. When you get your mindset changed to invest in other people’s lives, in other people’s relationships, then all of a sudden your goal becomes an eternal goal and that’s worth living for. That’s worth waking up for every day and saying, Okay, this is worth my day.
It’s cool that you chose specific values to communicate to your listeners.
I’m reading a book, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg. The record is really about this book, but I didn’t even know about the book when I wrote the record. It’s one of those things where I feel God is speaking something to me and then he comes along later and he says, “Yes, that was me speaking that to you.”
The book is a Monopoly analogy. We play this game and we lose and we keep playing. We keep playing because one day we’re going to win and we finally win the game! Look at all the property I’ve obtained and the houses that I have and it’s wonderful!
Guess what? Now you have to close it all up and put it back in the box. You can’t take any of it with you. We can live our life just collecting stuff. Look at what I have. Look at the houses that I have, the cars I drive. And when we die we all go in a box [LAUGHS] and we get buried in the ground and none of that stuff can go with us.
So what comes with us is our relationships, what we’ve invested in other people’s lives, what we’ve done to really make a difference. That to me is the hope in this record and the hope in this season of my life, to challenge my listeners to wake up every day and not chase things.
In John’s case, his big thing was beating his grandmother.
[laughs] Yeah, he just wanted to beat her. She always beat him and he finally beats her one day and he just feels like, Oh, yes, I’ve finally accomplished it. And his grandma goes, Okay, put it back in the box now. And it’s just the realization that, Whoa, this doesn’t last. It cannot last.
There is a passage that talks about if we don’t have a vision, we will perish. The Message has a wonderful translation of it where it says , Without a clear vision of God, without an understanding of him, we would just stumble through life. But if we can get a vision of his plan then we have purpose. Then we have reason to live and reason to go.
I have to have an understanding of what God is about and chase those things instead of chasing what this world teaches me is important.
Where did the Love Is Not a Fight song come from? Tell us that story.
It came from an argument with my wife, a fight. My wife and I have been married for six and a half years and we’re great friends. We don’t have any children yet so we spend all our time together and just hang out.
We went through a season about a year ago where a lot of our friends were getting separated and divorced. While this was happening my wife and I were shocked. We weren’t expecting it. It was coming out of nowhere.
And we felt really secure in our relationship, Oh, this could never happen to us. And then one night we got in this big argument over something really stupid — it didn’t matter — but it opened up the gate and all these little things started flooding out.
During the fight the words were actually said, “Man, it would be much easier if we just didn’t have to put up with each other and we could just walk out of this thing.” Thanks to God’s grace we didn’t walk and the next day things were better. It was really humbling to know that we weren’t immune to losing each other, losing this relationship that we valued so much.
The lesson to me was, if I don’t wake up every day and fight for this person and make a conscious effort at loving her, I will lose her. You know I can’t just take it for granted.
So I wrote her the song to express my commitment. I sang it to her on our six-year anniversary out on the back porch of her mom and dad’s house. It was just for us.
Then I started playing it for some other people at some concerts and got flooded by stories of how the song was affecting other people’s lives and challenging them.
So how did that go over, writing a love song for your wife?
This is the first (serious) love song I’ve ever written for her. Her response wasn’t a lovey-dovey, Oh, that’s so sweet. Thank you, Warren, response. When the song was done she said, “Yeah, I will fight for you, too.”
And that tune will be in the Fireproof film, coming out this summer…
Yes. We got the opportunity to go to Albany, Georgia while they filmed and hung out on the set. I got to call “action” a couple of times. It was pretty fun.
My wife and I met with Steven and Alex, the writers, and talked about ministry and our goals. I felt God was calling me to do this in this season of my life. It was a great match.
We’re a part of something that God is doing across the country and across the world where He is challenging people to be active and conscious about their relationships.
When is the last time you and your wife had fun?
This morning. We laugh at each other and have a great time. I was kidding her this morning and I said something really goofy and she didn’t giggle when I thought she should have. I said, “Oh, there was a time when you would have died laughing at that, baby.” [LAUGHS] And she starts cracking up. We just have a great time together. We really do. We’re great friends.
How do you build spiritual intimacy in your lives? We talk about physical intimacy — but there is a spiritual intimacy piece.
What’s awesome about my wife is I feel completely comfortable discussing my faith with her. Today on the way back from church, we’re not just listening to the radio; we’re discussing what we just learned.
I am blessed to have this person that I can share my faith with and express my doubts to — she receives that and she is open and vulnerable back.
There is a great Scripture in the Bible that I love. It says , “Confess your sins one to another that you may be healed.” I love that I have that with my wife that I can confess my spiritual longings or whatever is on my mind — and she receives that; she doesn’t convict me, but she expresses hers back. Through that we’re both healed. We grow together.
If we were to look in your truck, what music would we find in there? What are you listening to?
You’ll always find some James Taylor. I’m a huge James Taylor fan and have been since I was a kid. So he’s got a new acoustic record out called One Man Band and I have that in my truck. There is a new artist Matt Maher he’s a new worship guy on Provident. I put that in yesterday. That’s really good.
As vain as this may sound, you will find the Warren Barfield prerelease Worth Fighting For in my truck as well. I’m still analyzing that whole thing. [laughs]
Too late for changes…
It’s way too late for changes but, hey, the live show is still there. I can make the changes on the run.
I want to invest in people. I don’t want to be worried about my 401(k) more than I’m worried about this woman that lays down next to me every night and the children that stumble around at our feet. There are so many things that matter more than the bigger house and impressing our neighbors.
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