Over the course of his decades-long career, singer-songwriter and author Andrew Peterson has acquired quite the following. His Twitter account has thousands of followers, there are plenty of people who buy and stream his albums, and last year he successfully Kickstarted the pilot for an animated adaptation of his fantasy novel series, The Wingfeather Saga.

Peterson is also the founder of The Rabbit Room, “an experiment in creative community” that, according to its website, aims to foster “Christ-centered community and spiritual formation” through its podcasts, online store, and news and updates, and by hosting gatherings of creatives such as the yearly Hutchmoot.

Despite his success, though, Peterson is open about the fact that he still struggles with the fear that when people really get to know him, they’ll be underwhelmed at best. That balance between his desire to tell the truth beautifully and the risk of vulnerability permeates much of his work, investing it with a blend of hard-won joy and honest conviction.

On this week’s episode of The Calling, Peterson sits down with host Richard Clark, opening up about what led him to become a professional musician, the unexpected challenges of the creative life, and how his church, community, and faith help him to keep a firm grip on hope.

Click the “play” button above to listen in.

On meeting Jesus in a Rich Mullins song: “It felt like God reached through the song itself inside of me and turned on a light switch. That was the beginning of me realizing, ‘Okay, there seems to be a person at the end of the ache that I’ve got. The loneliness is an arrow that’s pointing toward a person.’”

On what he hopes his music achieves: “I really want there to be a conversation—some kind of moment where the listener realizes he or she is less alone.”

On the challenges of performing: “I get to stand on the stage and present myself. I do try to be honest in my songwriting, but I’m also telling you what I want. I’m revealing what I want to reveal…. There’s this funny, weird tension between being afraid of being known and also being called to a job that exposes your deepest fears on a regular basis. But that’s what church is for.”

On Christ’s incarnation: “The fact that God chose to put on flesh and dwell among us, to embody our suffering, has for many years been one of the most profound things about Christianity to me. No other religion can boast that the god that they worship knows what it’s like to be lonely. I have not been able to shake that feeling—and Lord, please, let me never shake it.”

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The Calling is produced by Richard Clark and Morgan Lee and edited by Jonathan Clauson.

Theme music by Lee Rosevere, used under Creative Commons 4.0.