Grammy Award-winning artist Lecrae was a guest speaker at VOUS Church on Sunday where he shared a message on finding joy out of the darkness of depression.
The Reach Records founder was invited to Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr.'s megachurch in Miami, Florida, to talk to the congregation on the topic of "Joy Through Sacrifice," which was made available via podcast on Monday.
Lecrae kicked off his message with the verse Hebrews 12:2, then opened in prayer before going into his full message.
"A lot of you know me as an artist. I have no idea why they let me preach but we're going to figure this out," he joked.
The rapper humorously shared personal life stories containing lessons about finding "joy on the other side of sacrifice." While digging into his past, Lecrae revealed that his innocence was first taken away from him at age 7, after he was molested by a family member.
After going astray as a young man, he eventually found faith in Jesus which set him on course to have a successful career in Christian and mainstream music. But despite his personal achievements, Lecrae said his dark battles weren't over. The husband and father said that after he began speaking out about racial issues and social justice, he started losing fans and their response to his opinions and activism sent him into a downward spiral.
Even before the officer-involved shootings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana, Lecrae said he had longed to be an advocate for racial reconciliation. Nevertheless, as he became more vocal about racial injustice, he realized that not everyone, including his Christian fans, agreed with his perspective or supported him voicing his opinions.
The chart-topping emcee lost hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, and he and his family even received death threats.
"I was about to learn a very powerful lesson," Lecrae said. "If you live for people's acceptance you will die from their rejection."
In his album All Thing Work Together, the Texas native shared that he was at a place where he felt so abused by his fellow Christians that he almost did away with his faith altogether. He went into a depression that even led to suicidal thoughts.
"I had to embrace that trauma and let it mold me into someone new," he maintained. ... "The shift is being willing to die to whatever we were before the pain to birth the person that we were becoming. The shift is when we're too attached to who we've been we're held back [from becoming] who God wants us to be."
In a previous interview on "Sway in the Morning," Lecrae elaborated on why he chose not to give in to thoughts of suicide he wrestled with during that season of his life.
"I was in a really dark place, my faith was messed up. ... At the end of the day I had to realize these are frail, fallen people, not God Himself that's doing all this crazy stuff," he said in the interview.
Lecrae ended his sermon at VOUS by warning the millennial-filled church to beware of relying on social media. He cautioned people against looking for likes and approval.
"We're in the social media world hoping for likes," he said. "If you woke up this morning and you loved yourself and God loved you, any additional like is a bonus. Likes don't change the world, relentlessness does."