Shia Labeouf, Nike, and Samsung have got it

You can do whatever you want. Nothing is holding you back. I don’t care what excuses you think you have. Do it. Listen to Shia LaBeouf and Nike. If you just sit there on the couch and only dream as far as the giant screen in front of you nothing is ever going to happen. Look outside and shoot for the moon. Aim for the stars beyond and never look back. When you look so far forward, so much further than anyone else, even your failures will be greater than their success.

I don’t know why this isn’t being preached everywhere. Why are so many students, kids, teens, college students, and people stuck in their jobs being told that they won’t ever achieve greatness or make a difference? Its like the people talking down to the dreamers just want power, or maybe they’re scared of what the dreamers could actually do. They see the potential and they want to squash it because they never used their potential and now they regret it, and we know how I feel about potential. 

Articles by major news outlets are saying that your son or daughter will never make it as a YouTuber. The company itself is making it more difficult to succeed. Instagram caters to those with high likes and engagement. Vero comes out in the hopes of actually only promoting quality content. Like it or not, social media changes the way we view others and is here to stay.

But what’s next?

What will someone dream tonight that will change the world tomorrow? Who will do it? It could be the child that just got suspended for never completing work and talking back to teachers. It could also be the straight A student who followed all the rules. Funny thing is that too often we lose track of those rule followers. They peak in academics and then lose traction after school because there aren’t any rules in adulthood. 

Do what you want. Do what others aren’t. Create for the world your vision on paper, screen, walls, leaves, storefronts, sky. It doesn’t matter the medium. Get your dream out there because no one is going to do it for you. 

I’m sick of middle ground thinking. Let’s start a revolution of high dreamers who won’t be stopped. Hop on the train of Samsung’s “Do what you can’t” campaign. The world has plenty of complacent sheep so don’t be one. No area will advance if we look at it with a fake smile and say it is just okay where it stands. Ideas only advance if people put their minds to it and do the work which builds the dream. 

Build your dream. I want to read books about you someday. I want to hear about you on the news. I want to use your product in my home. Fail along the way and see those failures as success because no one else is doing what you are. You are the only one who can change the world in the way you want.

Move Forward Without Leaving Everyone Behind

Do we make things for the masses or do we make things so good it only is understood by a few people?

This plagues me more often than it should.

In the music side and passion of mine I always want to have performances so astounding and compositions so intricate that they stand out as unique from anyone else. I don’t want music that is for the masses. The huge downfall of this though is that not everyone will be able to grasp it right away. In church music this might not be the best idea because we want everyone to understand the words of Christ. However for the musician there is so much more to music than a simple accompaniment. 

I want a hymn book for high level musicians, not a hymn book for the average player.

Video content is so far stretched from itself like music. There’s the fifth grader who just got his first phone and starts to make videos or the Spielbergs and Nolans. As I scroll through videos on Vimeo I watch content that I don’t understand at all, but probably is making waves in the industry. I watch a lot of vlogs which might be the greatest “for the masses” type genre of video. 

It is always important to push a craft forward. No matter what it is. Music, video, athletics, dance. They all need to move forward, and they will if people do the work. Elon Musk talks about how technology won’t just move forward on its own. Engineers and bright minds need to be put to task improving, updating, and creating new technologies. In the creative world new people come along all the time and dare to do crazier tricks, larger compositions, or mind bending films. Often, these people aren’t understood by others right away, but they do it because they care. If they care for making themselves better or the craft, it doesn’t matter, but putting in the work is always good.

Now what about everyone else.

Not everyone can be Steven Spielberg, John Williams, or Eric Whitacre. We need the people to explain what’s happening to the world. People like Musk who work on such complicated items, but also give talks to the world on what is happening, how it is done, and why. Martin Luther translated the Bible out of Latin and into the common German vernacular. Bach wrote hymns and music to be used by everyone. Leonard Bernstein, a prolific conductor and composer, hosted concerts for school children. Educating the masses, young and old, is necessary to bring meaning of the complicated and far off down to earth for everyone. If no one can understand your idea will it every take off? If no one appreciates a film is it still a worthwhile endeavor? Is going to Mars necessary if only a million out of 7 billion will ever get there? 

The answer always seems grey, not black or white. It is not a simple task to move arts, athletics, or technologies forward and keep everyone up to date.

But

You should still try.

You're not busy

Busy is not an award.

You don’t get extra credit in life for being busy.

It isn’t something that should be touted over people.

Just because you have lots of people to meet, things to do, and places to go does not make you better than someone who is pleasantly walking through life. 

It is good to be involved, work hard, and be diligent, but not at the expense of others or taking care of yourself. 

In my room I have a single piece of paper hanging on the wall that reads “work harder” in big, bold, and highlighted text. It is my reminder to do more work than I thought I could each day. However, this work comes behind caring for myself and those around me. I want to be healthy and actually live to see how far technology goes, if I’ll start a family of my own, and what happens to the world in the next several decades. Working myself into the ground won’t do any of that for me. 

There are such odd social implications to this “No, sorry I’m busy” stigma. Many people proclaim their busy-ness as a badge of honor. 

Look at me! I’m busy!

Woohoo.

Do your job(s) and get on with it. 

No one cares.

I have respect for those people that work hard (in a healthy way) and say nothing of it. My friend Danielle is one of those people. You would never know how hard she works to do school work, have a job, run campus wide events, and be an incredible friend and family member. She once led student run activities for a week (a full time job in itself), and continued on with classes even though she had mono. She doesn’t stop and she doesn’t tell people about her work. I admire that so much.

Maybe it is the business world that made busy-ness such an sought after trait. If you’re constantly running to meetings, going on business trips, and making decisions you must be important to a company. Right? Or is this just the work laid out in front of you that should just be picked up and done like anyone else in the company.

Let’s not compare each other’s levels of work and busy-ness to gain social ground. There is no point to it, and it only hurts people. Everyone has their own amount of work they can handle, and you don’t always know what other amounts of family or relationship issues are happening and amount of mental work they need to do everyday just to make it through each day.

Finally, never leverage busy-ness as an excuse. Saying “sorry I’m too busy” to someone is so disheartening. It doesn’t do good for anyone. Don’t equate what you have to get done with the precious time spent with others. Relationships and human connections are far more important than the work laid out. Respect is lost each time your amount of busy cuts into the lives of those around you.

Don’t use busy as an achievement or excuse.

Make time for yourself.

It’s okay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passion and Purpose • Ministry

We need teachers.

We need pastors.

China has begun to send missionaries to America. 

What happened?

How did we let the Gospel leave the grasps of American soil? A trust and faith in God was part of the founding of this country, but now other countries are flying over to remind us of what we lost.

So often we talk about missions. We have to go out and spread the gospel to every corner of the world, but we forget a key part. Our literal neighbor. When was the last time we just walked over to them in then next house, across the hall in the next apartment, or through a door in the next dorm?

We’re supposed to be upholding our end of “The Great Commission.” It’s obvious that we aren’t doing well at all though. There are pastor vacancies everywhere. The seminary graduating classes aren’t near the size they need to be in order to fill those vacancies and provide more ministers. 

Recently I learned about the difference between passion and purpose. Passion can fuel you and keep you going, but not always. Sometimes we do get stuck in a rut. That’s why purpose exists. When we always know our purpose we will keep going. That applies to everything. Not just education which I’m going to talk about.

People come and go to Martin Luther College with the intent of going into the ministry, but too often somewhere along their walk through in four, five, or more years they lose sight of why they came. Things in their life become stagnant. It doesn’t seem like there is more to grasp or achieve once they graduate. 

Even out in the field teachers in their first five years struggle. Some of them quit all together, for whatever reason. Married, had a child, burnt out, finally realized they didn’t want to teach, had some sort of dramatic reason. It doesn’t matter. We’re losing people. 

There’s a group of people in the middle. The ones that go through, teach, but aren’t satisfied. When asked how prepared they felt they were to be a teacher they respond reluctantly because they have realized they weren’t prepared at all. Sure they understood how to write a lesson plan (woohoo) or create a year long curriculum, but they are missing key educator tools. 

We’re missing passion. 

We’re missing purpose. 

We’ve been relying on future teacher candidates to come into MLC with passion and purpose for teaching and then never fostering that. It’s like we gather kindling and start a little fire, but we never pile on more logs or fuel and it quickly dies. 

This is why teachers in their first years are frustrated and quit. It is the same reason that other students transfer out of Martin Luther College to go to other schools for education. 

We rely on the gospel to to its job, but we forget that God works through humans.

We can’t just let people do their own soul searching. We have to foster passion and purpose constantly. Once our teachers and pastors have a continued and understood passion and purpose they’ll stick around longer. I’d wager that they will inspire more to be called workers also because their own personal fires will be burning brightly. 

If you already are a teacher or pastor I pray that you understand your own passion and purpose. 

If you are at Martin Luther College join together with your colleagues and classmates to renew or find your passion and purpose.

If you ever had a teacher touch your life in a remarkable and memorable way, think about being that person for someone else. 

You could change the world.

 

I Hate Potential

Potential is pointless.

So often I hear people say, “there’s a lot of potential in this kid,” or, “they have so much potential” or even still (and worst of all), “but they had so much potential.”

It’s great to recognize potential and foster the growth of students, children, new workers, athletes, musicians, or whoever has this magical potential, but there is no point in talking about someone’s potential if that potential never gets kicked into action. 

Potential without action is pointless.

I direct a marching band in summer. It used to be bigger. We’re growing, kinda. People at the beginning of the year said “there’s a lot of potential for the group this year.” As a director I agreed and thought it would be a good year, but then we really started digging into the season and working and I realized just how useless any of these potential comments are. I don’t want to be associated with a  group that is labeled as having potential. I want to be associated and work with a group that is striving to achieve their highest and best possible performance each and every moment in practice and on the field. That goes for any performance of music, athleticism, and academia. 

If at the end of a journey I am still described as having potential I have failed. What’s worse is if my students come in with so much potential and then they leave my classroom and get to the next one and the teacher says that they still have potential.

Potential needs to be burned up like rocket fuel. 

It needs to be set on fire in a controlled explosion of knowledge, practice, patience, performance, diligence, and perseverance. Rockets sixteen stories tall are completely filled with fuel which only lasts for about forty five seconds of engine burning. 

So stopping sitting on your sixteen stories of rocket potential and start burning it so you can force yourself off of the ground and to new heights. There is absolutely no point to sit on a fully loaded rocket for twelve years of education, or twenty years of sports practices, or forty years of a career. No point at all. This is lazy and irresponsible. It breed complacency and fosters mediocrity. Four things that I will not tolerate in my future classroom and that I will attempt to never let seep into the work I’m doing as a creative. 

There must be a way to change the social connotation of potential. Maybe it involves a worldwide physics lesson about potential energy by showing a giant ball falling and creating kinetic energy. I don’t know, but it has to change. 

The only way anything will change is through conscious decisions to leave the past behind and move forward in a new direction. Examine what hasn’t been working and do better. Strive for excellence. Don’t go on until everything is perfect. 

Perfect practice will destroy pointless potential.

Set potential on fire.

Burn for the skies.

Never be called someone who has potential ever again. 

 

We are meant to connect with people

We are meant to connect with people.

There is research out there that talks about every person is only able to maintain one hundred fifty different relationships. Beyond that we stretch ourselves too thin and lose contact with people or don’t know each other that well.

The better way to think about this is that you have the capability to touch the lives of one hundred fifty different people without even trying. All you have to do is know them. You can mean the world to all these people, change their lives, be there for them, smile with them, and share in their sorrows. 

Connecting on these levels creates this bond. Know one can see it, but you just know when it’s there. It’s the moment you’re talking to someone about their passion and their eyes light up. You smile because your friend is talking with such conviction about what they care about; the thing they believe in with their whole heart. 

The bond shows up when you reach out and message someone to which they reply “I was just about to message you too!” Or when you call a dear friend to catch up and all of a sudden you talked for six hours. 

Supposedly humans are actually able to share and receive brain waves. I’ll say it again. You are able to receive wireless, touchless, biological waves from other humans. I feel this the most at a red light when you can just feel someone looking at you from their car. You didn’t even know that person. So how much more powerful is the connection between someone you’ve known your whole life, or someone you instantly click with, or someone who you’ve had a heart to heart with. 

We all go through life creating this web of connections.

In the center of the web is you. Then branching out are the people you’ve known since you were born. Attached to them are your first friends, your first educators, and your first experiences in the world. The web keeps growing through life. Sure you might lose contact with some people close to the center to make the way for people towards the outside, but you can always go back and repair that connection. 

The key is to always at least be connected to someone. Solitude is powerful, yes. It is useful, yes. And for some people it isn’t an option, they crave it. But too much solitude puts a person too deep in their head. They lose touch of how to smile upon someone, how to make a new connection, and maintain others. 

This whole connectedness idea is only furthered by social media. It is so easy to make new friends and rekindle old relationships. You can reach out to someone across the globe and create a bond between that person without ever meeting them. Yes, there are negative side effects and incorrect uses of social media, but it is such a powerful and amazing tool to live with. It allows us humans to share each others experience. The whole connectedness principal explains why we want followings, why vlogging is a legitimate career, and why almost every social media has a messaging service.

Keep up your web. Create a bond. Look into someone’s eyes and smile. Listen. Find someone’s passion and ask them about it. Make connections to those around you. Sharing freely of your experiences and listening to others is powerful. Use it.

We Are All The Same

Sometimes I think we spend too much time separating people into extroverts and introverts.

We put a lot of energy into figuring out which one we are, trying to understand ourselves and those around us and then end up realizing that we’re completely different. But I’d argue we’re al the same. 

We’re all human, and now we’re starting to forget that. 

We extroverts look at the introverts and say “I have nothing in common with them” or “they are the complete opposite of me”. How could I possibly live my life like them. It doesn’t make sense.

To me, the introverts look at us extroverts and see careless, reckless, not as thoughtful people who struggle to dive deep into topics. Which hurts us, but gives an introvert a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and prominence. 

But I’ve just divided the entire human race into two opposing sides. How can there possibly be a good in that. 

Books like Quiet by Susan Cain exist. It is an introverts manifesto. Attempting to explain many every day facts of introverted life, but at the same time somehow feels as if it is inadvertently attacking the extrovert. Maybe this is just thin skinned of me and I am unable to maintaining someone else’s perspective, but why else would we have these two sides and an uncountable number of books about them?

I want to be able to put myself in everybody’s shoes. To experience life as they would. It is this understanding and empathy that I think makes us profoundly human. Even if the whole extrovert and introvert debate would say that not everyone wants to share their feelings or be known to the world, I do think we all want to feel validated by something or someone. It doesn’t matter what personality you identify as. You want love.

And this is why I think we put too much effort into separating ourselves to the two different camps. 

We all want love and need love. We all live, work, and experience with other people. We hear other people’s stories. We want to be a part of everyone’s lives and experience the world through multiple lenses, no matter who they are. 

We humans are curious, insightful, and always learning, (even if we hate going to school). We’re social beyond belief, but dividing us into introvert extrovert only says that half of us are “capable” or “wanting” of sociality. 

A person’s core just comes out in many ways. 

There’s a dumb reference here, from Shrek. “Ogre’s are like onions”, says Shrek, “they have layers.”

We all have layers protecting who we truly are, yet we want to peel back those layers, or open up a sliver of our defenses to share with others who we are and hope that they don’t run away. 

It doesn’t matter what you’re labeled as here. It matters that you’re human. You have a soul. You have beliefs, ideals, and morals.

Someone’s core might come out in their writing because they think better that way. Someone’s core might come out in a conversation at 3:23 AM that burdens the listener to hear. Another person’s core might come out in front of an entire audience, a filled auditorium or an online following. 

Now all we have to do is truly see and experience every human’s core and accept them for who they are. 

This doesn’t mean to go against our own beliefs. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t help them overcome a struggle. 

But it does mean to stand firm and see them. To not run away when they unwillingly peel away a layer or open up the door just a sliver. A bond as strong as the closest friendship is formed when one human opens up to another and each remains there accepting of the other. I’d call that love. Maybe Phileo love like in Philidelphia, the city of brotherly love, or that romantic love that we crave. Either way we all want a part of it. We are all the same.

Put down your defenses. Experiences one another. Stop separating yourselves into completely opposite spheres. 

 

We are all the same. 

We are all loved.

Teaching is Art

Teaching is art. 

Not because art is taught in the classroom. Not because students are all blank canvases. Not because teachers are high in the sky about their calling.

Because teaching is creative. It’s motivational. Education grips the minds of those who experience it and transforms them. 

Sit down in an art gallery with someone who inherently understands form, shape, line, color, contrast, hue, shade, and so much more about what goes into a single painting. They will rattle your ear off about each individual brush stroke the artist used to convey the feeling, emotion, timing, and elusiveness in that paining. 

Now ask a teacher about why they teach. Ask them about why on earth they spend four hours on a Friday night cutting out tiny little heart shaped pieces of paper for their ten little third graders.

Its the art of it. They care about each tiny little brush stroke of an experience that those kids have. Each glance. Each sentence. Each picture book read. Each lap run. All brush strokes on those students. 

Because those students are blank canvases.

But every canvas comes from somewhere. 

Each canvas is formed out of the finest materials, and is unique. 

Canvas is stretched, beaten, and formed until it is ready to become a work of art. 

It is then the teachers job to take those canvases and create the art. To go about education in a way that is inspiring to the student that doesn’t want to be inspired. To show color to the student that has only seen the blackness of a dark family life. To show structure to a child who’s life is spiraling out of control inside their mind.

Teachers are artists. 

Each and every one of them.

It doesn’t matter what they paint, draw, shape, form, sculpt, or create.

They are artists.

Artists make you feel things you never thought you could feel. Artists take you on the journey of those lost in battle, or high to the mountaintops, or to the darkest of lows. Artists give you a gift every time you glance upon their work. The gift of something you never even knew you needed. 

This odd thing happens over the first couple years of a child’s educaiton. They start out loving going to school, and then all of a sudden they don’t like that one boy, the one girl said something mean, the teacher is dumb, the hallway smells weird and now they’re faking sick just to avoid the very thing they used to love as a little kindergartener.

But out comes the artist who paints a new picture of what education is. Who shows students that they are capable of painting their own incredible images, and that each and everyone of those images is just fine where they are. Sure there is always room to grow, but students pushing themselves is all the teacher wants to see. 

Teachers give and give and give away their art, never asking for anything in return, except the hope that children will remember just a brief moment of what they felt as they experienced the art. 

And then someday the teacher receives a letter, a phone call, or a surprise visit. 

On the other line is someone who always seems to never care about what art hung in the gallery. Who never wanted to see in color. Black and white was just fine.

But now they recall every beautiful brushstroke. Every wonderful color the teacher showed them. 

Remembering the art is all a teacher can ask for. Remember what experiencing the art gallery felt like. And then go share that experience. Tell everyone about the beautiful art. Show it off to the world. Become an artist greater than a teacher could have ever imagined. 

They just want to see you grow. 

Teaching is art.