Praise is what Bishop William Murphy III does.
But it hasn’t always come easy.
There were days when he didn’t want to wake up. Nights when he wondered if he’d ever see his children again. Moments when he figured he was worth more to his family dead than alive.
But he soon realized that God’s presence is the safest place to be, and praising Him is the quickest route to that destination. He found his way back after remembering that “if you worship Him in spirit and truth, He’ll never deny you.”
That sentiment led Bishop Murphy to write “Praise is What I Do,” which became an international anthem in 2001 and catapulted him to the forefront of gospel music. It turns out that one of his darkest moments created inspiration for the song.
“I got divorced,” he said shortly before his Father’s Day concert at First Baptist Church of Glenarden (Md.), (where he had to sit at times due to knee surgery following a recent car accident). “My wife left me and took my two sons. … I had pretty much convinced myself – or the devil had talked me into believing – that my ministry was over. Nobody wanted to hear me preach or sing anymore.
“I said to God, ‘Maybe I can go back to school and try to get a job or do something and I’ll figure out a way to survive and support my two sons,’” he said. “And one day in worship, trying to find my way back from a devastating season and just in God’s presence, I finally accepted the fact that praise is what I do and I couldn’t go get a 9-to-5. I tried and it didn’t work.
“Praise is what I do and that became my mantra. It became my heart’s cry.”
Bishop Murphy’s heart could’ve been stopped in the womb. Born to unmarried teenagers, a 15-year-old mother and a 17-year-old father who didn’t get along, he easily could have become another statistic. But his mother carried the pregnancy to term. His father – like his father before him – went on to become a pastor.
Thus God’s Word was planted in Bishop Murphy’s heart at an early age, which has led him to serve as a vessel and conduit for worship.
“This is what I do,” he said. “It’s why I’m still alive. It’s why my mother couldn’t have an abortion. It’s why the devil couldn’t kill me and I’m still here. I stand on the Word and it’s my whole purpose for living. So we just thank God for an opportunity to serve the body of Christ and to actually make a living doing something that we do for free.”
He was engaged at 20, married at 21 and divorced by 24. Today, Bishop Murphy has been married to Pastor Danielle Murphy for 15 years and juggles the demands of pastoring dReam Center Church in Atlanta, managing his music ministry and raising four children who range from a college sophomore to a sixth-grader.
He said his priorities are family, then himself and then dReam, because “if I don’t have time for me, then I’m no good for my church.”
Carrying on the tradition of his father, Bishop William H. Murphy Jr., and grandfather Dr. William H. Murphy Sr., Bishop Murphy is producing his own spiritual sons and daughters. They include Tasha Cobbs, who preceded him during the FBCG Father’s Day Concert; Ernest Vaughn, who wrote the title track on Bishop Murphy’s latest project, “God Chaser;” and Miah White, who wrote one of the CD’s most popular songs, “You Reign.”
Bishop Murphy is excited about mentoring those who follow in his footsteps and continuing the legacy of worship. He is committed to help them any way he can. He also is committed to staying connected to his offspring, which is the best advice he received from his father.
“He taught me to never give up trying (to) father my sons,” Bishop Murphy said. “He was 17 when I was born and he wasn’t in a relationship with my mother. So all of my life he had to pursue a relationship with me. It was extremely difficult at times, based on his relationship with my mother.
“Even as I’ve gone through the same, broken relationship with my first two sons, he taught me to never give up pursuing that relationship with them,” he said. “That’s probably the greatest lesson I learned from my dad.”
Bishop Murphy left us with a perfect message for Father’s Day – the importance of pursuing relationships with our children while simultaneously chasing after God.
– Click here for an overview of Bishop Murphy’s latest project, “God Chaser.”