Steve and Sandi Padilla are well-known worship leaders, songwriters, and multi-instrumentalists from Sacramento, CA and they’ve been sharing their brand of music for over two decades. Having partnered with #1 Christian recording artist Lincoln Brewster (Integrity Music), their talent has inspired thousands of worshipers at events like the National Worship Leaders Conference, Creation Festival, Spirit West Coast, Break Forth Canada, Lifelight Festival, and CMS. Whether leading worship for church services or teaching at Christian music conferences, the Padilla’s dynamic, positive approach has left people both equipped and encouraged. Steve and Sandi have developed a unique ministry and sound and have now taken that calling on the road with a new CD and a new look on life.
However, that sense of newness came from a most unusual source – a messy garage. One day, Steve opened his garage and felt like he was peering into his own soul. Then a thought came over him, “If I could organize my garage, maybe I could organize my life! I felt God was telling me to get my life organized!” So, Steve Padilla began the process of cleaning out his garage. To the left was music merchandise piled to the ceiling. To the right was his personal music gear piled to the ceiling. And in the middle were Steve’s personal affects (documents, tools, clothes, memorabilia, etc.) piled to the ceiling. “Everything was a mess! I felt that this was, in some way, my life – a succession of disorganized messes”, he remembers.
After the exciting life of playing keyboards and touring several years around the country with a #1 Christian recording artist how could it have come to this? But apparently carrying baggage in and out of airports wasn’t the only “baggage” that Steve was carrying. “When I started, I knew I was doing what God wired me to do – but it’s not what He called me to do,” Steve says. All of my gifting and talents – playing music, leading worship, encouraging people, recording – I was using all of it to my fullest potential, but I had missed the path I was supposed to be on. Why? “I was doing all of this to make other people like me. My identity was wrapped up in pleasing others,” Steve answers. “Day after day I was putting myself in a position that I really shouldn’t have,” he relates. Without warning while out on tour Steve fell underneath the weight of not being able to make the people in his life happy. “The breaking point came when I got into an argument with a band mate. “I realized I had disappointed someone and it crushed me,” he says. He knew he could not keep going. That was just the beginning of how God began to transform Steve’s life and it placed him on the road to recovery from burnout and alcoholism.
Under all the stress and pressure that came with the multiple jobs he was doing, Steve found that alcohol helped him mask that everything was okay, plus it gave him energy to push his limits. Day in and day out alcohol numbed the pain of not measuring up to people’s expectations.
Steve recalls, “I had covered up my alcoholism and kept my drinking a secret from my work, my church, my friends, and even my family. In November 2010 I began the process of getting healthy. I needed to stop drinking for good and since March 24th, 2011 I have been completely sober and off alcohol.” Soon after, Steve left a lucrative career in one of the most influential churches in the country and a life of fame and luxury on the road.
What was next? Something new. Literally. Steve went inside the studio with his wife Sandi and they began to pen the words to the song that became their first single – Something New: Make me something new, I’m calling out for You – to hold me, take me, turn my heart around. “I was forced to start over and really look at what was important. My relationship with Christ and my family had to come first. Nothing else mattered,” he says. Steve admits that the busy life he was leading was the fulfillment of a life long dream. “I’m grateful for the opportunity, and for all I learned, but I’m even more thankful for where I am now”, he reflects.
Now as the Worship Arts Pastor at Sunrise Community Church in Fair Oaks, CA Steve mentors young worship leaders and helps them avoid the pitfalls he stepped into. “You have to have healthy boundaries and be able to know who you are in Christ,” says Padilla. “If your identity is centered on gaining other’s approval and applause, you’re going to crack. It’s not easy, but you must sift through your motives. The most important question is do you love Jesus and do you love people? The songs don’t matter. The stage doesn’t matter. The studio doesn’t matter. The cool gear doesn’t matter. You can be on a stage in front of a hundred thousand people, but if you can’t walk off that stage and pray with one of those people, it doesn’t matter. Real ministry is about Jesus and people. Nothing else matters.”
“Something New”- the debut CD by Steve and Sandi – a husband and wife ministry duo was released on September 25th, 2012 and has already been well received. In a recent review it was said, “This album is healing, euphoric, and heavenly.” As Steve and Sandi share their talents for leading worship and their story of recovery from addiction, others have been uplifted and encouraged. Whether leading in church services, prayer gatherings, Celebrate Recovery meetings, retreats or church concerts, their message of hope and healing is clear.
“None of us is perfect,” Steve says, “As I cleaned my garage that day, I realized that I didn’t need to get my life organized, I needed to clear out all the junk in my life to see the real problem inside my soul; the sin of my addiction. The process of forgiveness and restoration in my family has been amazing. Through it God has made my marriage, my relationship with my children and my family stronger and healthier than ever before.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 echoes the journey: “If anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.”
Steve has been a worship leader, clinician, speaker, teacher, and multi-instrumentalist for 15 years. He is credited with playing keyboards on four of Lincoln Brewster’s CDs including his latest “Joy to the World”. He has also played keyboards with artist Paul Baloche, Darlene Zschech, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redmond, Kari Jobe, Glenn Packiam, and Sarah Kelly.
Sandi has been a worship leader, teacher, vocalist, and speaker for numerous churches, conferences and retreats. She specializes in artist development and mentoring for young Christian artist. She is also a water color artist and has had her artwork showcased at galleries throughout Northern California.