If you thought you knew gospel artist Kirk Franklin through his music and interviews about his porn addiction and childhood abandonment, think again. The seven-time Grammy award winner opens up further in his new autobiography, due to hit shelves on May 18.
This time, however, he provides a blueprint to help others triumph over life’s challenges through his powerful and awe-inspiring life story in ‘Kirk Franklin: The Blueprint, A Plan for Living above Life’s Storms.’ Developing a blueprint includes embracing “non-sexies” or good works that do not involve obvious payoffs, examining your relationships with others and establishing a good support team.
“I didn’t have any blueprint when I was coming up, any kind of instruction manual on how to be a man,” he writes. “All you have to do is look at any city corner to know that my education was flawed. And so was my behavior. Many of us had either no blueprint or a bad one — maybe you had to be a daddy to a drunk daddy or mama to a mama who was raising you all alone.”
Franklin’s blueprint looked like this: His father abandoned him at an early age, and his mother flat out told him she did not want him. She eventually left him in the hands of an impoverished and un-nurturing aunt.
As a result, he learned to fend for himself on the gritty streets of Fort Worth, Texas. By age 11, he believed that sex equaled love and became a teenage father. He smoked, drank, use drugs and developed an addiction to pornography that would last through adulthood. He was on the fast route to self-destruction until he developed a father-son relationship with God and his pastor, Tony Evans, who helped him begin to etch out a blueprint for his life.
“There are so many vivid examples from my own flawed upbringing,” he writes. “I never saw a man who was faithful to his wife. Think about that one — not one! I was told by my own mother that she did not want me, that she had wanted to abort me. That messed me up real bad!”
The twain between Franklin’s award-winning music and his life story is remarkable. In one case, he sings about his past in a hit single ‘Let it Go,’ from the best-selling album, ‘Hero.’ The song seems so much like the precursor to ‘The Blueprint” that this writer mistakenly thought the name of the single was ‘The Blueprint.’
“My mama gave me up when I was 4 years old,” he raps at the beginning of ‘Let it Go.’ “She didn’t destroy my body, but she killed my soul. Now, it’s cold because I’m sleepin’ in my back seat. I understand the spirit’s with m,e but my flesh is weak. Let me speak. I never had a chance to dream. Ten-years-old and finding love in dirty magazines. Miss December, remember I bought you twice? Now I’m 30-plus and I’m still paying the price.”
But Franklin was able to stop overcome his obstacles by getting rid of textbook religion and developing a close relation to God, he said. Today, he and his wife, Tammy, have been happily married for 14 years and are the proud parents of four children. And since the release of his self-titled debut album in 1993, he has been an innovator, mixing hip-hop and gospel. ‘Kirk Franklin and the Family’ changed musical history when it became the first gospel album to sell more than a million units.
“We can’t live by a bunch of rules,” he said. “We were created to have an intimate relationship with God. Most of us treat God like a spare tire. We go to him when we are sick, when we are pregnant, when we are about to lose our job or when we are scared. He wants a father-son or father-daughter relationship with us. He doesn’t want us to stop by when we have a problem. We need to develop a one-on-one relation with life’s architect, God.”
In ‘The Blueprint,’ Franklin provides ample steps for developing a relationship with God, which can lead to developing a road map for your life. Here are five:
1 .Embrace the non-sexies: What are the things in your life that do not win applause, do not earn bonuses and do not always return what you give? Those are the things you need to be committed to.
2. Examine the fruit: Some of you may ask, ‘How do I know if I’m working with the right blueprint, the one that will relieve me from the despair?’ We have to pay attention to what our souls are trying to tell us as we attempt to walk the right path. If the fruit doesn’t look right or smell right, keep steppin.
3. Not even Kobe can do it alone: It is possible that these changes you begin to make within yourself won’t be warmly embraced or understood by the people who are close to you. In this case, you have to let everybody know how they’re going to benefit from a better you. You have to reinforce what everybody’s going to get from it.
4. This is your life–not a step program: ‘This program is a life-long journey, not a step program. I think the most destructive thing we have done to people is we have given them steps. But the kind of meaningful change I’m seeking for you does not come in steps.
5. God brings order to confusion: Why do bad things happen to good people? I don’t know. But when I look through the lens of God’s love letters and promises, I see the pieces of life’s puzzles come together. If I can trust Him with all the hell and horrible things in my life-things that made sense in the end-you can, too.