Ricky Carden, lead singer of the Down East Boys, is seeing life from a new perspective.
As pandemic-related restrictions begin to lift, Carden is grateful for the somewhat-renewed sense of normalcy and uptick in tour dates. But he’s also reflecting on the eye-opening life lessons he and his family have learned since the beginning of 2020.
“I’ve been singing for 30 years of my life now, and what the Lord taught me is that it can be gone in an instant,” he says. “Anything you have in life can be gone in an instant. We’re not guaranteed anything that we do, own, or possess. So when the pandemic hit, I realized really quickly that it’s in God’s hands.”
Being cooped up at home for weeks on end helped Carden see just how busy he had been with his music ministry.
“It took something of this caliber to actually slow me down to say, ‘Hey, there’s more to life than just pushing for a day or going to sing another song or working in the office. There’s more to it and you’re going to miss it,’” he says.
Carden points to three specific things that Christians should prioritize, no matter how busy their day-to-day life gets.
1. Your Relationship with God
When life gets busy, it’s easy to overlook the most important relationship in our lives—the one we have with Jesus.
A2007 study of 20,009 Christians from 139 countries revealed that one of the biggest obstacles to people’s spiritual growth was busyness. And more recently, in 2017, Barna found that busyness was the number one reason people didn’t read the Bible frequently.
While the Bible esteems hard work, it also teaches that our relationship with God is more important. Jesus told Martha in Luke 10 that Mary’s decision to spend time with Him was better than getting every task done.
“But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40-42, ESV).
No matter how busy life gets, it’s crucial that we prioritize our time reading God’s Word, worshipping, praying, and fellowshipping with His people.
2. Your Relationships with Loved Ones
When Carden finally slowed down during the pandemic, he was able to spend some much-needed time with his family, including his two daughters. For years, Carden’s work with the Down East Boys kept him away from home during the weekends when his daughters were free. But that all changed when the lockdowns started.
“Suddenly, we were enjoying dinner around the table,” he says. “We were watching movies at night, playing board games. We were actually doing something as a family that we couldn’t have done before because of my job. So I was able to spend with them the last year that my girls will be home before they head off to college. For me, that was a blessing.”
Carden also learned to prioritize his relationships with friends and extended family members. During the pandemic, Carden lost several friends and supporters due to COVID-19—and he regrets that he never got to say goodbye.
“I’ll treasure our friends a little more,” he says. “On the road, we’ll start to have that dinner after a concert that we thought we didn’t have time for.”
3. The Little Things in Life
God created this world to give Him glory, but He also designed it for us to enjoy. Carden says we can’t forget to experience the simple joys God has placed in our lives—no matter how busy we get.
“It’s a fast-paced world we live in, and we forget to step back and breathe and enjoy the things God’s already blessed us with, like a beautiful day outside at the beach. Or maybe it’s a day sitting on the side of a creek fishing—whatever it is that someone enjoys. Take that time because you can’t get it back,” Carden says.
He hopes people take that advice to heart and choose to come enjoy the 40 Days & Nights of Gospel Music festival at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. The huge event will run from August 2 to September 10 and will feature various Christian music artists and preachers from around the country.