one of my heroes right now is kid president. i’m not even joking. i, like many of you, discovered kid president through his pep talk video. since that video i’ve watched pretty much every video he’s ever done and i can fully admit i’m obsessed.
when the pep talk video came out, i watched it four or five times in the same day. i probably watched it ten times within the first couple of days it was released. it completely wrecked me. i know it’s crazy to think that a video of a nine year old messed me up, but it really did. maybe it was because of where i was at the time, or maybe it was god stirring something up in me, but there were some one-liners that reached off of my computer screen and slapped me in the face. lines like:
boring is easy. everybody can be boring but you’re gooder than that.
what if there really were two paths? i want to be the one that leads to awesome.
don’t stop believing. unless your dream is stupid. then you should get a better dream.
get a better dream and keep going and going and going.
what will you create to make the world awesome?
when the pep talk was released, i was right in the middle of reading a book called “greater.” it was all about living a greater life and not living boring, sucky lives. it talked about how god wanted to invite us into this great story and we had to choose whether or not we would keep going with what was comfortable or if we were willing to do what’s hard in an effort to step into that greater life.
two unrelated things came together at the same time to really mess me up. i don’t say that in a light way either. they really did mess me up. for almost a month i had all of these questions in my head.
am i on the path that leads to awesome?
am i bored?
what’s my dream?
what’s the greater thing that god wants me to do?
is that greater thing in knoxville or is it somewhere else?
what am i supposed to be doing?
all of those questions stayed in my mind and impacted everything that i did. every relationship that i had. every circumstance that i was in. all of it started being processed through the grid of those questions.
when i first started this entire process, i began feeling something that i hadn’t felt in years. i realized i was reacting to things in a weird way and certain things were bothering me that hadn’t bothered me in a while. it took about a week or two, but i realized that the depression that i fought off for so many years was beginning to creep back into my head. i had been fighting it off without knowing what it was, but once i realized that it was my old arch nemesis, i knew i was on the verge of something.
i didn’t know if that something was great or terrible.
i still remember the night that i told nicole all of this. work had been crazy for both of us so we hadn’t had a chance to really sit and talk in a couple of weeks. we went to dinner one night and i laid it all out in front of her. i told her what i was thinking through, asked her opinions on them, and really had one of the best conversations we’ve had since we’ve been married.
as we talked about all of this, i told her that i had been sort of case studying my past depression and realized that it always hits me through one of a couple of circumstances:
i’m not doing what god has called me to do.
i’m doing things god has told me not to do.
i’m not using my gifts/talents/passions the way he has equipped me to.
as you can imagine, once i realized this, i changed the grid from the kid president questions to these three. was i doing what i knew god had told me to do? yes. i’m working in ministry at two rivers church as the production and communications guy. whether i liked doing that or not wasn’t the question anymore. the question became if it’s what god had called me to for this period of time and the answer to that was unquestionably yes.
am i doing things god has told me not to? well, not really, but i’ve been pretty tempted to. when depression comes on, you tend to run towards the things you used before in order to make yourself feel better. once i realized this, i immediately took every precaution i could. i deleted the facebook, twitter, and instagram apps from my phone. they were becoming idols and i was using them in ways that just weren’t healthy. i didn’t quit social media but i put up guardrails to make sure i didn’t slip into past ditches. i also disabled safari on my phone and got a browser that wouldn’t allow me to look at anything even remotely pornographic. for a dude that was addicted to porn for a few years, it was important to get rid of any form of temptation. i did whatever i could to make sure the answer to this question was a no.
am i using my gifts/talents/passion like i’ve been equipped to? what surprised me was that this answer was no. sure, i’d been using my graphic design and production gifts, but what i realized was that those were skills, not passions. i had to search inside to find out what those passions were. what i realized was that god has given me the skills needed to perform my current calling, but the passion that he has put inside me and gifted me with is to teach, to write, and to help others navigate through life.
i wasn’t doing any of that.
my immediate reaction was to complain to god that my current calling was getting in the way of those things. it was to ask god to send me somewhere else so that i could do the things he has put inside of me. he didn’t laugh at me for that. he didn’t get mad at me for asking. all he did was point me back to something one of our elders prayed over me six months ago:
jonathan, you are a writer. regardless of the amount of people that read what you write, those that do read it will be impacted by it.
the excuses had to go away. it was clear what was causing the depression. it was clear what the greater life god was calling me to right now was. it was to write. it was to tell stories that are way too long and hope that someone reads to the end. it was to get back to the basic passion that he put inside of me when i was fifteen years old.
that was my path to awesome.
that was my greater thing.
that was my way to stop being bored.
the greater thing that god is calling us to is sometimes bigger than we can imagine. at other times it’s so simple and basic that it doesn’t feel greater. it feels mundane. it feels unimportant. it feels boring. when we finally decide to step into the greater life god has for us, we want it to be wrapped in shining lights with a marching band leading the way and confetti everywhere. often times, and i’d even argue most of the time, the greater life starts with a really small step that no one but god notices. it starts with guardrails to keep you from walking off the road. it starts with one step in front of the other.
the path that leads to awesome doesn’t get there right away. it’s a journey. it could be long and winding. it could be dark and scary. all i know is that once you get on it, you won’t want to get off.
maybe one day i’ll be a pastor or in a leadership role at a church. for now though, i’m a support guy that has been called to support the pastors and leadership of my church.
maybe one day i’ll be a guy that teaches in front of hundreds or even thousands on a weekend and gets to tell them how much god loves them. for now though, i get the opportunity next week to talk to 130 middle schoolers about it.
maybe one day i’ll write a book that changes people’s lives and makes a bigger impact than i could ever imagine. for now though, i’ll keep writing on here and sharing these thoughts with you.
for me, that’s the greater life.
what’s the greater life for you? what’s god calling you into right now? look for the little thing. if you do enough little things, eventually you’ll find yourself a part of something big.
say your prayers and take your vitamins.
have a nice day.