10 Questions with Nick Simmons-Smith

"I like to look at the positive side of things and try to get people to view things that way too." by Major Jason Swain

Nick Simmons-Smith is the U.S. Southern Territorial Music and Creative Arts Education Secretary. A life-long Salvationist, Nick is originally from Chelmsford in the United Kingdom. Nick moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 2008 to work at Territorial Headquarters in the music department. Nick is a gifted composer and has written a multitude of compositions for various Salvation Army groups. He became the territorial music secretary in 2009. Nick lives in Georgia with his wife, Roberta, and their two sons, Jonah and Jamie. 

1. How did you meet The Salvation Army?

I was raised in the Salvation Army. My great-grandfather joined the Army when he was drinking in a pub. An Army band marched past backwards! He followed them back to the Corps and was gloriously saved. He became a Brigadier (an old Salvation Army rank). His son (my grandfather) was very influential on me (which is why I have Simmons in my name) and his daughter is my mom—who still attends the corps in Chelmsford. 

2. What brings you joy and happiness?

I really love my family. I have an amazing wife and two fantastic boys—Jonah (11) and Jamie (10). We have two guinea pigs and a dog (Sugar, Cinnamon and Pepper respectively.)  I also like my “alone time” spent watching an old movie with a cup of coffee on a rainy day.

3. What is one challenge that you see for The Salvation Army?

We have to find a way to get back to the old way of reaching those in need or those who are troubled. Our corps is no longer a barracks for an Army or field training for soldiers—it’s more of a mainstream Church center. We have to find our Salvationism by embracing new things and by getting on our knees a lot more. 

4. Who has made the biggest impact on you and your career?

So many people. My YP Band leader probably was my biggest encourager, David Hayward. James Anderson was my first boss in America and both gentlemen balanced spiritual and musical emphasis in their ministry.

5. What are you currently reading?

Nehemiah. I just finished Ezra—which reads a bit like a Pokémon story! I also have “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”by John le Carre on my bedside table.

6. How do you handle negativity?

I don’t receive any negativity online (that I know of…) as I don’t post anything online. I’m not good at conflict management, but I think if you face it head-on and look first to the things you could have done better, or ways that you can actually embrace the criticism, rather than deflect it or become defensive. I quite enjoy being wrong, in a strange way!

7. What drove you to choose the career that you did?

Music seemed to come quite easily to me. I love it when the light bulb goes off for a beginner band player, or we create a beautiful moment in band, songsters, praise team or creative arts. Music seems to have a special connection with the Creator. 

8. What are your greatest strengths?

I like to think that I am an encourager. I like to look at the positive side of things and try to get people to view things that way too.

9. What are some tips that you would give someone struggling with faith?

“Keep listening” is what my old Band Sergeant used to say. Pray like you are talking to a friend—and stick at it. When you look back at the tapestry of life, you will see how beautifully it has been knitted together.

10. What’s your favorite dessert?

I like to make and eat strawberry pavlova. That’s a meringue!