Saying goodbye to one of my best friends, Matt Gilman
This is probably one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written. I’m sitting at IHOPKC listening to Matt Gilman lead his final worship set. Matt, his wife Alexia, and their two boys will be moving to Orlando, Florida to join staff at the Orlando House of Prayer. Though I’m excited for Matt as he begins this next part of his journey, I am sad because my friend and comrade of the last ten years is moving.
The first time I met Matt was in January 2004 when we both came to do the one thing internship. I remember walking into orientation and there was Matt – we were both 18, super immature, and had no idea what our lives ahead would look like. Matt immediately stuck out to me because of his amazing singing voice and I was so intimidated (yes, even jealous) at first. But God did a work in my heart and once I got over my pride, Matt quickly became one of my close friends.
I have so many memorable experiences with Matt. I remember when our whole internship went to lead a prayer tent during a huge music festival in Kentucky. Matt got picked to lead the main worship time (which meant about 50 people were there) and I was sitting in the back of the tent not overly thrilled that I didn’t get picked to lead, and as he was leading, the worship song got a little intense and his keyboard fell off of the stand into the mud. I then had to go up and lead the rest of the set from acoustic. We’ve joked about that moment so many times over the years! Another favorite would be leading worship together at The Call DC in August 2008 and then touring around Washington together.
Matt is one of my closest friends and someone that God has used so many times to challenge and push me deeper into the Lord. He’s the friend that you go to lunch with and get so caught up in sharing your heart or telling stories about the past that you don't realize that hours have passed by. One of the beautiful things that God does in all of our lives is bring us comrades and friends with whom we run closely. These friends help sustain our hearts and keep us on the straight and narrow along the journey. Matt has been one of those friends in my life.
Watching Matt lead worship is one of the ways I have been and continue to be provoked by him. Every time he sets foot on a platform to lead, no matter where it is or what size the crowd, he has one goal - to encounter the Lord. I have been challenged by that so many times as I’ve sat in his worship sets seeing him pursue the presence of God. Because I’m a worship leader, I know that he’s actually pressing into that; it’s not an emotion.
There is sadness today not because Matt is retiring or changing occupations; he’s simply changing locations for his job. But it’s amazing how much a location matters! Matt’s voice has filled this little room in Kansas City so many times with prophetic declarations, times of corporate worship, and intercession like I’ve never experienced before. Today was his last time leading here – and this room will never be the same. I don't know anyone who leads like Matt leads, and I am going to miss that!
Matt, thank you for being one of my closest friends over these last ten years. I know that though a location might change, our friendship will continue, and I look forward to the next ten years. Thank you for your years of service worship leading and sowing into this little house of prayer in Kansas City. You’ve helped form the foundations of this place with your voice, songs, and spirit of humility and excellence. Most of all, thank you for your faithfulness as a husband, a father, and a man who has deep fellowship with the Lord. As this chapter of your life is closing and another is opening, I pray God’s abundant blessings upon all that lies ahead for you. I love you man.
Matt leading in 2004 at the music festival prayer tent. (Yup! The place where the keyboard fell in the mud!)