You’d think the chance to audition for one of the biggest Christian bands in the world would be super exciting. But when 17-year-old Jen Ledger got the chance to play with Skillet, she just felt terrified.
‘I honestly couldn’t think of anything worse,’ she told Alex when they caught up recently. ‘It was so intimidating to me.’
Ledger had left her home in the UK to attend Living Light School of Worship in Wisconsin, following in the footsteps of her older brothers. ‘It’s a really awesome, intense year, but it’s where I actually understood the Gospel for the first time in my life and got serious about wanting to live for Jesus.’
But being a girl in a guys’ world got to her. She was surrounded by musicians, all keen to show off, and dogged by the certainty she was no good as a drummer, she’d switched to playing bass. ‘I was sure I couldn’t play. I would get sick playing at Church for 200 people on a Sunday morning.’
Skillet members attended Ledger’s Church, and she’d made friends with the guitarist’s sister. When former drummer Lori Peters left the band, they remembered her and asked her to try out. And somehow, she nailed her audition, playing better than she ever had before.
Then the panic set in. ‘I’m just here because I feel like God told me to be here,’ she told them. ‘But I don’t really like the drums, and I don’t think I’m very good at them, and truthfully I never practice, and I actually quit them. I don’t think I’ll ever play again.’
‘The band got back to me a couple of days later, and said we really appreciated your honesty. And they liked my heart for Jesus. And they said they wanted to go with me as their drummer. To me it was so clear that God had lined it up that I just stepped into being in Skillet.’
The things I thought made me unusable have been the very things God has used to connect to people
Ledger had just turned 18. She’d struggled to play to 200 people, and her first show with Skillet was at Winter Jam, to an audience of more than 16 thousand. On the day of the show, she didn’t know what a soundcheck was, and struggled to play with the click track keeping the band in time. ‘I could tell that they were nervous then obviously. So they all prayed for me before we went on stage.’
And when she sat down at the drums, everything fell into place. ‘A peace came over me,’ she said. ‘I just knew God was with me. I knew He had put me there. And it’s been the same peace that’s just carried on with me for 12 years straight.’
In that time, she’s shared stages with some of the best drummers in the world, played on multiple platinum selling albums, and if you’ve been listening to 180 lately, you’ll have heard some of her solo tracks. Last year, she played Winter Jam again, but this time as frontwoman of her own band.
She sees her story as an example of how God can turn weakness in to strength. She felt under-confident because her drumming wasn’t technically complex. But her straight-ahead playing and the passion she brings to it set her apart. ‘The things I thought made me unusable have been the very things God has used to connect to people.’
‘We just can’t understand how He’s going to work sometimes. If you feel like He’s calling you to step out in things that feel too big, too scary, too impossible for you, maybe they are impossible for you. And He just wants to show you that He’ll be the strength. He’ll be everything you need.’
‘What you think is weakness, what you think is not enough, is plenty in His hands. It’s like the loaves and the fish. Just bring what you have, and let Him multiply.’
Listen to Ledger’s EP now below or on Vision180 radio.