I started writing songs when I was twelve years old.

My songwriting pretty much consisted of putting my journal entries to music. Those early songs were usually about how I didn’t understand life or girls – so deep! Then as I moved into my teenage years and began leading worship, I started to try writing corporate worship songs to lead.

I remember the first worship song I wrote that I actually felt confident enough to lead during our youth group worship time. The chorus went something like, “I want to fly away, fly away with You, into the night…” What I thought would be the height of my worship-leading career was one big letdown. I’d imagined that doing one of my own songs for worship would produce this utopian feeling, but that was not the case at all. It was a pretty oppressive moment. I swore I’d never do my own songs in public again.

The bottom line was that the song was just not good! I had the desire to be a songwriter but was lacking the tools needed to do it well.

My brother, Jonathan, on the other hand, has always been an amazing songwriter. He has a way of writing melodies and lyrics that flow off the tongue in a clear catchy way. My sister, Danielle, is the storyteller of the family. She’s written a lot of short stories and a variety of other things over the years. Growing up with siblings who could write so well was a challenge to me because I felt like I couldn’t measure up.

Don't compare yourself to other songwriters. God has given you a unique voice and way to communicate to him. Be you. Click To Tweet

I wish I could tell you that when I moved to the International House of Prayer, songwriting suddenly got easier, but that wasn’t the case. It actually got harder.

Now, it wasn’t just writing songs that was my challenge; I also began dealing with intimidation and comparison because I was surrounded by so many amazing worship leaders who were way more talented than I was. My immaturity and insecurity caused me to see these seasoned worship leaders and songwriters not as resources to learn from, but as people to feel intimidated by as I got into comparison.

My breakthrough didn’t come at one service or in one moment; it was a process. Over time, I began to realize that just like all of the other worship leaders, God had given me a unique ability and way to communicate to Him. I found that the source of my insecurity turned into a source of strength as I began to learn from others instead of remaining intimidated and fearful.

I gradually began to develop my songwriting toolbelt. At first, building a simple house was enough for me; it was beautiful. But the more tools I added, the more beautiful the house, the quicker I could make it, and the wiser of a builder I became.

I now find abundant freedom and joy in songwriting and I promise you can as well!

Where are you in your songwriting journey?

Huge thanks to my friend Jordan Vanderplate for letting me use this photo of Ballachulish, Scotland. Check out more of his work here.

I’m Justin Rizzo. I enable worship leaders who feel isolated, overworked, and unfocused to experience peace, confidence and create thriving worship communities.

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Light of the World (Acoustic)


  1. Lydia penosky

    I wish I could say that I Know how to write a song which I started one a few years ago but I never finished it because I got stuck near the end. I can easily make songs up in the shower but I don’t have the actual talent to write them it seems like

    1. Justin Rizzo

      Will definitely be talking about some practicals of how to write and finish a song in the next few weeks, Lydia. Stay tuned! 🙂

  2. Aladeboyeje Olusegun

    Wow… Thanks for sharing your heart, Justin. I really gained something from it. More inspiration to you. Keep on living.

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