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Michael W. Smith: Two Decades as God's Instrument

By Marti Paradee and David Sisson
The 700 Club Lisa Ryan visited Michael and his wife, Debbie, at their home in Franklin, Tennessee.

LISA RYAN: Tell me about the first time that you saw Debbie.

MICHAEL W. SMITH: I was at a record company, actually, in Nashville, Tennessee, and was going to have a meeting and she walked by where I was sitting in the lobby. My head turned, and it just really rocked my world, honestly, because I wasn’t ready for it.

DEBBIE SMITH: Well, I wasn’t either. (Laughter)

MICHAEL W. SMITH: I began to pray. I prayed two different things: that she would walk back by and that she wouldn’t because I knew my life would change forever. It was just weird. It was so surreal.

DEBBIE SMITH: He even called his mom.

MICHAEL W. SMITH: Yeah, I called my mom and just.

LISA RYAN: Oh, that’s serious.

MICHAEL W. SMITH: I called mom right after I saw her for the second time and was talking a hundred miles an hour, going, 'Mom, you’re just not going to believe. I just saw this girl. I’m going to marry her, mom, and spend the rest of my life with her. This is the girl I’m going to marry!

LISA RYAN: And you haven’t even met her yet.

MICHAEL W. SMITH: No. It was so funny because my mom said, 'What’s her name, son?' I said, 'Mom, I don’t know. I don’t know her name.'

I think the fleece for us was that we did fall in love. We were engaged three-and-a-half weeks after the first date.

LISA RYAN: Three-and-a-half weeks?!

DEBBIE SMITH: I don’t recommend that, either.

MICHAEL W. SMITH: I don’t recommend that either, And married four months later. We don’t recommend that either. It was pretty quick.

LISA RYAN: And you’ve been married…

MICHAEL W. SMITH: Twenty-two years.

LISA RYAN: Well, it seemed to work for you guys.

Michael W. Smith and Debbie SmithMICHAEL W. SMITH: Yeah. There’s this real desire on our part to be the man and woman of God that He wants us to be, and to do that you have to be a servant. That’s what we’re called to do, and so as you grow up and hopefully get wiser, you just find out that serving brings more joy in your life than anything. That’s the thing I would tell first of all to couples. First of all, you need to just absolutely pray with all your might that God will give you a heart for Him more than anything -- for Him. (Points up to heaven) You start falling in love with God and this thing will work.

LISA RYAN (reporting): Debbie wrote the lyrics for the now famous song "Friends" from his first record, The Michael W. Smith Project.

DEBBIE SMITH: We had a friend who would come to our home and lead a Bible study with people from our church, young couples and singles, and he found out that he was going to move. So, it was the last Sunday he was coming to do the Bible study that evening. In the afternoon, we’d been studying I think it was Ephesians. I just told Michael, 'Wouldn’t it be neat to write him a song to say goodbye?' So I just sat down and looked over that Scripture and just wrote it down quickly, in 15 minutes. I handed it to Michael. He looked at it and said, 'OK,' and sits at the piano and starts writing the music. Literally, it was written in about 30 minutes, which rarely happens, for me definitely. Little did we know that this song would really speak to a lot of people about a lot of situations.

LISA RYAN (reporting): Michael and Debbie have five children: Ryan, Whitney, Tyler, Emily, and Anna.

LISA RYAN: You’re coming out with the Second Decade project. You’ve also done a song with your son Ryan called "Signs." Tell me about that.

MICHAEL W. SMITH: Yeah, it’s awesome. I mean, for me as a dad to be able to do something with your son, that’s a bit surreal, too. It just seemed like, golly, he was just 8 the other day and now he’s 20 and he’s a young man. We go through those days where, oh gosh, we failed. We haven’t raised them right. Then you see them serving somebody. Or then you see your son in a prayer closet with the door shut and you go wow! That’s amazing. So, good stuff.

Michael W. Smith with President BushLISA RYAN (reporting): Along the way, Michael W. Smith has made friends with some very well known and important people, including President George W. Bush. President Bush asked Michael to write a song dealing with the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The song is titled "There She Stands."

MICHAEL W. SMITH: It was great to go back and play the song for President Bush. First time, I believe it was when we were in Kennebunkport.

LISA RYAN: How did he respond?

MICHAEL W. SMITH: He got teared up. He always tears up (laughter). That’s where we’re a lot alike. We’re emotional. And it was so funny because when I played it for him, I said, 'You remember that conversation we had?' I said, 'I think this is the result of it.' So I played it, and, obviously, everybody got teared up: Daddy Bush and Mrs. Bush. I’ll go out on a limb and say this: I think my best work is still to come. That’s a really good feeling being the age that I am. (Laughter)

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