129: Fellowship Ft. Siona Savini: The Power Of Perspective, Emphasis, Platforms, Leadership, And Change
The simple act of sharing what you have can be a huge platform that can trickle down to a bigger effort with a bigger impact. For Head Resident Director at Master’s College, Siona Savini, he ensures that any platform can be used in the best way possible regardless of race and even age group. In today’s interview with Thane Marcus Ringler, Siona shares his observations on different generations, the importance and value of truly listening to others, and the power of perspective and emphasis. They also talk about faith and how it has shifted over the years, leadership and what it entails, and embracing change.
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Fellowship Ft. Siona Savini: The Power Of Perspective, Emphasis, Platforms, Leadership, And Change
Siona Savini, welcome to the Up and Comers Show.
Thanks. I appreciate it.
I’ve been thinking about having you on ever since we started the show. I’m glad it finally worked out before we go our separate ways soon. We have quite a history. We’ve probably done ten years of life together so far. Some of those were a little bit tumultuous.
You’re a lot different than you were years ago.
I first met you in the Hotchkiss dormitory at the Master’s University, which was formerly Master’s College. What was your first impression when we met? You were the RD, Resident Director, of the dorm, so you were already friends with some of the golf guys. I don’t even remember the first meeting. Was it when the RAs and the freshmen were up in the dorm in an arm-wrestling competition or something like that?
I don’t remember. Maybe vaguely generally thinking, “These golfers.” They were the popped-collars back in the day. I don’t recall other than there were quite a few of you that were on the team.
I remember being somewhat intimidated by you because you’re Samoan. What do people need to know about Samoa?
There are two Samoas. One is an American territory and the other is independent. They have the same culture, people, language, customs and food, but different governments. It’s been like that for about 100 years now.
What are you most proud of in being Samoan?
This sounds corny and cheesy but it’s true. Samoans have a lot of heart. They go all in with everything, from laughing to eating, loving people, and respect. You don’t want to get yourself caught in an alley with a Samoan, even the passion and anger. We’re extreme people. Generally, the culture of people are welcoming and hospitable. I love Samoa and Samoans.
I can affirm that. It’s very real. I’ve experienced that. I have several questions from an anonymous guest. One of them is a great question. Over the years, what has become more important to you and what has become less important to you?Thinking of opportunities and platforms as tools or resources that others might not have access to is huge. Click To Tweet
For me, it’s the need to be heard and the need to listen. It’s Important to be heard. I would like to say that valuing what people have to say, what joys they have or even struggles. It’s important to hear people. I’ve been a part of a job in a ministry that’s required so much talking from me, as well as having to listen and bear other people’s joys and burdens. Many years ago, I didn’t feel listening was even a thing. It was just, “Who are you? What do you have to say?” I’m not thinking of that as a tool to bear with people. I think that’s huge. That’s not a self-deprecating thing for me at all. I want to think I value people’s opinion more now. There are many other things too. I still hate watermelon.
In one of our episodes, I shared three lenses that can help shape the New Year. One of them is the difference between hearing and listening. Often, we can hear things but listening means you are paying attention and you’re engaged with it. It’s active. As an example, if I’m working or reading or writing in a cafe, the second that I move from hearing the background noise to listening to a conversation, I get zero work done because it’s engaged. Now, I’m paying attention.
The same is true in conversations with people. Unless we have microphones in front of us, we’re not going to get a lot done if we’re not going to be as engaged with what people are saying because there’s so much noise. Society has become overwhelming to where we feel like we are constantly distracted by whatever it is that’s going on in our mind. We don’t listen to people and they’re not heard, which is a core need that we all have like being seen, heard and understood. It’s the cheapest gift we can give to every single person we come across, just hearing and listening.
It has so much value. It’s a wonderful gift to give people. I haven’t always been good at it at all. I understand too. Within the last years, it’s been good to learn that there are certain capacities that are different in every human being like learning to understand what people can and can’t handle.
How would you describe those years you spent as an RD? What was that job description like? What was that experience like? Give us an overview so people can relate.
It’s a full-time job as a Resident Director. There’s anywhere between 80 to 96 college students and you live in the apartment that’s in the dorm. You’re able to live life with students day in and day out while they’re attending classes, figuring out who they are, and learning more about their faith. This is in a Christian context. It didn’t always seem so Christians. One aspect is that I’ve got to make sure the building doesn’t burn down and people get out if it does burn down. On a more relational side, there was some counseling.
There’s some interaction with them as tenants and me as somewhat of a landlord. There are rules to abide by and guidelines from the school that they agreed to live by. That’s generally what it was. It’s 24/7, nine months out of the year. It wasn’t an easy job. It required a lot day in and day out. There are aspects to it where you want to be a good neighbor and in some senses, a good brother. From season to season, you become more or less. That was taxing. You’re like a camp counselor in a dorm. There are great aspects and great opportunities to that. There’s another side to it that was a little too much.
How long were you in that position?
You’ve got to see almost a full generation of individuals. You went from that position into a position where you’re teaching younger students. What were the ages?
Seventh through twelfth graders.
You’ve had experience with quite a few generations. What would you say those experiences were like? What insights or observations do you have about those different generations in your experience from your different roles within it? Do you have anything that stands out in the sense of general observation or things that have been interesting to you?
They’re two different contexts. One was not academic with the RD position. It was like living in a neighborhood. You had your neighbors come back to their home and find out if you want to have dinner or whatever. You chat here and there. Whereas in the classroom setting context, it was nice that they could go home. Realistically, it was a platform. The dorm was a platform as well. Every student in between 7th and 12th grade year, they too need to be heard and listened to. I think about my students in that classroom context and it was awesome getting to know them. They have great insight.
Seventh to twelfth graders think deeply about things. A lot of it is having the opportunity to be able to use your platform to dive in. They have joys and burdens that, for whatever reason, aren’t being listened to. I’m not saying that they didn’t have faithful parents or a community that didn’t listen to them at all. There were specific opportunities that I had to be able to get to know the students and care for them not just academically, but otherwise.
I love the idea of jobs and roles as a platform. A lot of times, we think about platforms as something that’s maybe haughty or prideful. On the other side, the goal is a platform. I don’t think either of those is not a bad thing or a good thing. It can be a helpful perspective of saying, “Your job as an accountant is a platform. Your job in X, Y or Z is a platform.” Everything can be a platform. Your trip to the grocery store is a platform if you want to look at it like that. That helps us realize that it matters. It brings meaning to it. Asking, “How can I view this as a platform?” could be a helpful tool.
When you have access to things, opportunities and relationships as a believer, you can’t help but think of that accessibility to platforms that are beyond enjoying it for yourself. You can enjoy those things, but what about others? What about the joy in sharing or using platforms for the sake of others? In a Christian context, that can sound cliché and cheesy. If I have a plate of food and you’re hungry and you’re right there, why not share it with you? Even taking pure joy and delight in the food and saying, “Have some. This is so good.” Thinking of our opportunities and platforms as tools or resources that others might not have access to is huge, living in this world.
That connects well to something that I’m curious to hear from you, which are cultural differences. A lot of my goal, aim and work is to people that do have access and survivability. They’re surviving like that’s taken care of. Surviving and needs taken care of is a platform. Now that you’re surviving, you have a base and a platform, what are you going to do with that? It’s not there for you to consume and be full of yourself in. How can you use that for others? There’s a lot of people that don’t have that. Growing up, you were in a much different environment and culture. I’d love to know the differences in culture from where you grew up to where you’ve lived many years and some of the tensions within that for you.
God is taking good care of my family. Relationally, what I didn’t have access to was a father. Before we make quick assumptions about, “Here’s another sappy story about a single-parent home,” and it could be that, but there’s another side to that as well. I had a hard-working mom. One of her aims was to provide access for us like food, clothing, and shelter. You can’t assume those things in life. We tend to because we have easy access to food, clothing, and shelter in our culture in this country. There are people even in this country, for whatever reason, don’t have or haven’t tapped into the accessibility of opportunities and platforms.
I grew up around that. I was fortunate to have siblings who worked hard for me to have more access and opportunities than they did, spiritually, relationally, financially and even academically. It is possible to provide more access for people who don’t have it or choose not to take it. One of the questions that I’ve been thinking about is, “What do I do with people that don’t want it?” Are they worth and valuable enough to stick around? Maybe you’re the platform for them relationally. Maybe they need someone who will listen to them and not have the issues like financial, neighborhood or education. Maybe those things don’t need to be fixed. Maybe they need a good neighbor or a good friend.
That’s more powerful than fixing because fixing gives you the power, not them. If you try to fix something, then you are the reason it was fixed, not the thing that was fixed. That’s almost more demeaning than empowering. You can be a platform yourself and not allow someone to stand on top of you. That’s a powerful thing to think about. How can I be a platform for someone else, especially for those that don’t have anywhere to stand? Sometimes, people don’t even have any foundation to stand on. How can you provide a foundation for them to stand on by loving them and being there for them? That’s way harder because we don’t get the intrinsic benefit of saying, “I did this for this person.”
Honestly, there are many crossroads to that. There are many dynamics and nuances that are hard to consider when you come across them. For example, you have a neighbor in a neighborhood where there aren’t as many accessibilities to platforms. What I’ve been conditioned to think is, “Get a job. Go out there.” I don’t know the years of someone looking for a job and not being able to get hired or they get hired in these side jobs. There are many success stories that I don’t want to sideline at all. Those stories are awesome. There are few stories that you come across with people that aren’t working.
What do you do when a father, grandfather, mother or single mother is trying to look for a job? It’s like, “My neighbor and her family don’t have food. What do I do as a good neighbor? What I do as a good Christian?” Of course, she knows she needs a job. There are many layers there that could be the case but what do you do in that moment? Hopefully, an option to a solution at that moment is to make them a meal. Invite them over or take it to them and eat with them. You could also give it to them, go back home and pray for another opportunity to provide access. You might be the access. There are layers to that thinking that’s challenging as Americans.What is goodness to one neighbor could be completely different to the next. Click To Tweet
I love the quote, “For every complex problem, there’s a simple solution and it’s always wrong.” These are complex things. There’s some mentoring we did in East LA with formerly incarcerated youth. It was challenging because the stories of these individuals where you’re growing up in a deck is stacked against you. How do you overcome when the deck is stacked against you or the house is playing against you? If you are a person without a home, how do you get a job when every job application needs an address? That’s a real problem and there are solutions. There are both sides of the coin but it’s helpful to not be naive and think that these are easy fixes or self-imposed.
We’re all born into something we don’t control. Some are born on third base like I was. Some are born on second and some are born first. Some were born on the bench. It’s helpful to humble ourselves and say, “I don’t know. What I do know is I can be a good neighbor.” I can care for someone. Maybe it’s one person. Maybe it’s giving someone something on the side. In LA, there’s always a chance to give something to someone on the side of the road. That has a small impact but it has an impact. A much bigger impact is having one person that you see regularly, that’s in that position that you consistently come alongside. That’s a much more challenging thing because it doesn’t have that quick value of, “I just helped that person.” It’s like, “I don’t know if I’m helping this person but I’m going to walk with them.” That’s hard.
To that statement, that’s the life that we live in. Life is hard. Life is difficult when death is around the corner and you don’t know it or there’s some disease that hits one of your family members or yourself or their financial issues. There are issues with your neighbor or at work. In LA, when you have to drive on the 405 Freeway every day, and I don’t speak from experience, that’s a real thing and it’s hard. The LA traffic is ridiculous. I don’t bear that every day. What can you do when you know a neighbor is coming home? Maybe you’re that neighbor or that person. Learning where people are or finding out what their context is at least gives you data and information about, “How can I meet them where they are?” If that’s important to you and if that’s not important to you, then I don’t know.
We started this group called Neighbor LA. Part of the heart and intention is that we all know what a good neighbor is. It’s a pretty easy concept to understand and it’s attainable by everyone. You can be a good neighbor. How often do I go into Trader Joe’s for groceries with the intention of being a good neighbor? It’s not that often. Usually, when I don’t is the time when someone wants to be a neighbor to me. I’m like, “I don’t feel like it right now.” It’s just humbling. If every person made a commitment each morning to be a good neighbor throughout the day, it would be fascinating to see what differences in society there would be and how much more supported we’d be by each other.
As a believer, it’s important to communicate the eternal motivation. Everyone can have their reason for being a good neighbor. There are a lot of people who aren’t from the Evangelical Christian circle that are better neighbors than we are. To communicate to the Christian audience, we already have a motivation that’s the best motivation. Why aren’t we better neighbors than we are? A huge part of it is theological. We understand that we’re not getting neighbors naturally because of ourselves. How does a society function with neighbors that are Christian and non-Christian? You appeal to what’s good for the whole, for the neighborhood, for society. You function in a way that can offer goodness to mankind. That’s the conflict. What is goodness to one neighbor could be completely different to the next.
I love how Jesus addressed and lived that. The most fascinating and poignant story of being a good neighbor is the Good Samaritan. He was a good neighbor and all the religious people and the people of power or authority in that time in that parable that Jesus told were the ones that weren’t good neighbors. His point was that just because you’re religious or a part of a community of faith, does not mean you’re naturally a good neighbor. In fact, you’re usually not. Piety and hypocrisy go hand in hand with religion. It’s natural for us as humans. We have to fight extra hard even in those spaces to be good neighbors.
Jesus ultimately lived the example. He flipped all the cultural norms on their heads and said, “I’m going to show you the way by the life I live.” He illustrates beautifully what that looks like. It’s laying down your life for another. If you read through the New Testament, especially the Gospels and say, “What type of life did Jesus live? What was His example?” This is the clearest picture we have of what God has for us.
Back to the Good Samaritan story, it’s interesting that Jesus was speaking to a generally Hebrew-Jewish audience. He’s pointing out that the “hero” in that parable isn’t a Jew or a religious person. It’s a Samaritan, who Jews culturally would despise, hate and look down on. In some sense initially, because they were the other nation and they weren’t God’s nation. Much like the Jews, we too will take something that God gives us and completely corrupt it and turn it for ourselves. That’s what happened that led to years and generations of hatred from the Jews to the Samaritan. Jesus comes along. This good teacher, this Messiah of the Jewish heritage both culturally and by faith says, “All of our people didn’t stop.” There was a priest. The guy has got to go to the temple.
That goes to the point that faith doesn’t make sense. Faith isn’t responsible. It isn’t logical. Faith isn’t saying, “I have to be there so I can’t stop.” Faith is saying, “I have to stop even if I need to be there.” That’s what Jesus constantly showed too. The people of most faith were not the Jewish people. They were the people that were the poorest, most destitute, the ones that desperately needed help and knew that He could provide that faith, regardless. The people that lacked faith were the disciples following Him and the Jewish people that didn’t even believe in it.
We’d be right there.
I do not want to sound like I’m speaking from a platform above anyone. I’m with everyone in this.
I know that we would both affirm that.
It’s easy to talk about but hard to do. That’s where Jesus lived it. He wasn’t going to say anything that he wasn’t doing. It’s a good challenge for all of us. In the realm of faith, one of the things I was curious about is how has your understanding of faith shifted throughout the years? What do you believe now that you didn’t believe before? How has that shifted in you?
One of the things I’ve been challenged by are these two areas of perspective and emphasis. In life, in relationships, even as I read the Bible, what perspective have I been blessed with and been trained by? What other perspective, even in reading the Bible, do I not know that’s there? How have I been boxed in a particular perspective and have believed that and communicate it that that’s the only perspective? On this issue of faith, I’ve always known that it’s a gift. I’ve been trained in the scriptures that it is. Theologically, I wholeheartedly accepted that it was.
To know it and to believe it, maybe there are some nuances there that are different now than they were. I know that sounds vague but it’s a gift. I didn’t purchase it. I couldn’t afford it spiritually or otherwise. It was given to me at the cost of another. Finding out and learning who that other is has been amazing. For a long time, I’ve tried to work to try to keep that. I’m not saying there isn’t any work at all in the life of a Christian. I think the emphasis is different. The perspective of it as a gift given to me is also being taken care of by the giver.
What do I do with it? That’s the natural question. What do I do with this faith? What do I do with this gift? I share it. I treasure it. I don’t always treasure it, so what do I do? I know this giver and He says, “I’ll help you.” What? You give me a gift. You do all the work to keep it for me. I find out who you are and I want to know who you are and there are times that I don’t. You tell me that you’ll help me even with that? That changes motivation. It changes perspective. It puts things in an emphasis where I’ve emphasized other things. There’s good work for us as Christians. I’ve made the good work as the platform to make sure that I keep this gift of faith from God. The other emphasis is that I have it and I get to share it with others. I get to tell other people about it.
It speaks to some of what I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last couple of years. While there’s a gift, there’s also a continual gift. The Trinity is that Jesus is the gift, but the Spirit is a continual gift. Why do we work so hard to keep something that is constantly being given to us? That goes to even one of the lenses I shared, which were fear and love. That also ties into scarcity and abundance. The scarcity mindset is saying, “I need to keep this. I have to protect this. I have to keep this from being stolen, abused or whatever it may be.” That’s a scarcity mindset. It’s saying, “This is all I have.”
In some senses, that’s true. In other senses, the one who gave it to you is in control of everything so why do you have to worry about it? The idea of the Kingdom being here now, being the Kingdom of God is present and at hand. Jesus came to usher that in. There’s a kingdom come, but there’s a kingdom now. I’m going to live in that kingdom now. That’s where I’m called to. That’s a place of abundance and love. I work a lot less hard to keep it and more to live in it, which means I’m actively promoting it because I’m within it. It’s been a different perspective than I had before.
There’s one verse in Colossians 2:6 that says, “Therefore, as you have received Christ, walk in Him.” How did you receive Christ? You believed that He came into this world to save sinners. Now that our eyes have been open about who we are, failures, sin, joys and capabilities, that is all in Christ. How do we receive that? How do we walk in that? We believe in what we received in Christ, which is the gospel. That walking by faith has completely been I’m alive in Christ now so I live. I do stuff. I breathe, walk, talk to people, share the gospel, don’t share the gospel, and go to sleep. All of that is because I’m alive. I eat because I’m hungry. How are you hungry? Because I’m alive. It’s important to understand that that’s why there are many parallels to the way that Jesus taught about this kingdom that’s here in everyday living like a parable about the coin, a treasure, a lost sheep. There are many illustrations that He gave as a gift to people to strengthen their faith perhaps.
There’s much to go on. Even understanding the Bible as a narrative and understanding as Jesus teaching in narrative and story. We are impacted ten times deeper by a story because we relate. If someone tells you information like a lecture, it has a 1% impact. A story has 50% impact. Why are movies so popular? Why are TV shows so powerful? Because they are narratives that we associate ourselves with. Through the story of Jesus and the stories that he taught, we see what living in the Kingdom looks like. We get to try and follow and create that story within ourselves with His help. It’s not our own for sure.
I love those two points you brought up. Perspective and emphasis are probably two of the things that we should always ask whenever we hear anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s within faith, news, or personal conversations. What perspective is this person coming from and what are they emphasizing? In our current cultural context with news and politics, everyone is looking at something from a specific perspective and placing a specific emphasis that drastically changes the message. For better or worse, not right or wrong, it’s the reality. A helpful question is what is the perspective and was the emphasis? We can apply that in many places.
We’ve got a few more I want to touch on with you. One of them is leadership. I think leadership is a funny topic. It always feels good talking about it because you feel like, “I’m a leader.” At the same time, we always have a long way to go. There’s never a place of arrival. It isn’t what people think it is. It isn’t some lofty place. Usually, it’s not glamorous. It’s not sexy or fun. It’s more excruciating than joyful in any context. As you see it from the different leadership positions you’ve held and as you’ve grown through those experiences, how would you describe or define what effective leadership entails and what that even means?There are times when a platform is difficult and maybe not as good when we constantly are pressured. Click To Tweet
I don’t know. I guess it depends on what perspective you’re coming from, either as a leader or someone who is following a leader. What are you expecting from your leader? How do you evaluate whether or not that was effective for you? As a leader, what objectives or goals are there? I’m thinking in terms of formal settings. There’s been many conversations, seminars, and teaching classes about leadership that I still have a lot of time ahead of me to sift through all that. There’s been so much on this topic. You could say character qualities like humility and boldness or even things to personality traits like humor. I like funny people. If a leader is funny to me, then maybe I’ll stay in it long enough to entertain what method he’s leading us in to accomplish a particular objective. It’s hard to know and narrow down to a few things.
A more specific version of it would be what have you had to learn often by failure or through experience that helps shape how you view leadership for yourself just to make it personal?
I interned for Keller Williams for summer a few years back. One of the takeaways from that time was an emphasis on failure and not being afraid to fail. In a culture like America and then the subculture of Christian context in the church and within families or friendships, people are afraid to fail. With this message of hope that we have, we’re not good at helping each other understand that or being patient enough when people do fail. I fail in being patient with people who fail. Even aspiring leaders in a particular context, whether it’s business, in the church or at home, we have this almost unreasonable expectation for someone in leadership to not fail. I don’t think that’s good in building up leaders.
I don’t know where I stand with whether or not someone is born a leader or if there are attributes and strategies that people can learn to be a better leader. I do know that people are afraid to lead because they’re afraid to fail. Generally, as people, we’re not good at being gracious with people who fail. I’m the youngest in my family so I’ve watched my siblings fail. I learned a lot from that. Looking back, I know why I stayed to myself for a long time. I was shyer growing up because I thought, “I’m not going to fail. I’m not going to do that. I’ll look like an idiot.” I had a great season in high school and college. I had a lot of fun, but I wasn’t going to put my hat out there in terms of leadership. The first leadership position I held was a captain of a volleyball team. I was like, “What? Me?” It was fun to lead your peers in that way, especially doing something that you love with people that you love.
In college, I went to a smaller school. I was in a different culture, learning a lot of great things with a lot of great people. I wasn’t going to be in leadership. Why? Because they’re better at it. “That guy’s an idiot. He failed,” that sort of thing. We may never say it, but that’s the culture that I grew up in and lived out until God forced me in some positions that I had no idea what I was doing and failed a lot. Many years removed from that, it’s good to fail. It’s good to see weakness. It’s not fun all the time. When your perspective changes, your emphasis changes as well. I’m sure everyone can agree with this, but there are still areas that I don’t want to fail in. I retreat and that’s a process of learning and growing.
What you said is interesting, “When your perspective changes, your emphasis changes.” I would say vice versa too. When your emphasis changes, your perspective changes. I was talking with my fiancé about editing a blog that I wrote. We were talking about grammar and where a comma goes. Because she’s been helpful on some of my grammar, but one of them is a rule that can apply in different ways. What I realized in that small example is that where you place a comma changes the emphasis of the sentence, which also changes the perspective.
Going back to the failure piece, even on small things like going to the gym and doing a lift. If I’m doing a lift like the bench and the pressing and the overhead, I don’t enjoy failing at a lift. I don’t enjoy going to a failure. I’d rather go until I’m hurting but I don’t want to fail, but I would benefit so much more if I went to failure. Even in the small things, I don’t like to fail, let alone the big things that “matter.” We all have a natural aversion to failure that we have to overcome. I don’t think you’re ever born that way. Some people naturally based on the environment they’re born into, can be quicker to overcome that, but we all have to go through the process of overcoming it.
You think in light of a perspective of performance, no one wants to fail at a performance. I’ve been playing piano for decades now and there are many mistakes that I noticed. I know I hit the wrong note. You come off the stage and someone’s like, “That was amazing.” “What?” That’s fine that you appreciated and enjoyed that. You have to get over it at some point, but there have been moments when people are like, “That was amazing.” I’m like, “That was the worst I’ve ever played in my entire life.”
This perspective of performance. Going back to the illustration of platform, that is a good thing. Maybe on the flip side of that, there are times when a platform is difficult and maybe not as good when we constantly are pressured, even if it’s self-inflicted pressure to feel like you’re always performing. Inflicting that onto others and wanting them to perform a certain way. In friendships, I expect you to perform as a good friend, “Go ahead. No, you failed, next.” Why do we do that?
It also talks about what you said about being gracious with those who fail. It always starts with us being gracious to ourselves when we fail. Allowing ourselves to be gracious when we do fail. Because if you don’t ever allow yourself that, you’re never going to allow yourself to fail, which then you’ll never allow anyone else to fail and it’s a downward spiral.
It’s interesting in a world where we have to define terms. I wouldn’t say I’m talking about being gracious in terms of tolerance like, “No, that’s a wrong note you hit.” I shouldn’t harp on someone. It’s interesting in many ways that we do that. It’s not just tolerating a mistake, a sin or whatever. It’s acknowledging it and being gracious. The power comes in when you do acknowledge that, “That was wrong but we’re good.”
There is power in that and it always starts with us. We have to be able to do that for ourselves before we can do that for others. That’s a missing piece that we overlook a lot. If we aren’t able to be gracious with ourselves, we’re never going to be gracious with other people. That was something that I had to go through a lot. I was so hard on myself that I would spill over and be equally hard to others. I wouldn’t set myself up for success and then you get in a place where you can succeed if you like.
You’re 100% right that it’s not tolerating, but it’s acknowledging that that’s a part of the process. It’s like, “That’s a part of growth.” Part of growth is you fall down and then you get back up. You got stronger because you got back up. I think that’s totally how God has designed the world. That’s why when you get stronger, you’re breaking down your muscle, and then it gets stronger by building itself back up. It’s a part of life. It’s the process of life in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of freedom when we say failure isn’t fatal, it isn’t final and it is a part of the process of growth.
The last thing that we want to touch on is what we’re both experiencing, which is change. It’s true that if you’re not changing, you’re not growing. In some senses, we have to constantly be embracing change because life is not stagnant. Life is constantly ebbing, flowing and moving. Change always takes effort, but it’s always going to be a part of life. You can’t eliminate it. There’s no homeostasis that we can always find an equilibrium. You’re in the middle of moving to a new city, new environment, new position job and all things that you’ve never experienced at this scale. What has that process been like as you’ve been working through how to embrace change or experience change within a pretty large scale?
I don’t know what it’s like for other people. This is a long process for me. It’s been good to evaluate and assess my reasons for wanting to make this move or wanting to make this change. I’m sure there are many nuances that I have no idea that are going to hit me as the next season of change also happens. Maybe there are two parts to it. There’s the beginning and the leaving process, and then there’s the moving, settling and the establishing process side of it. That’s going to take a while.
I’ve been internally ready for that in my mind. I planned to move to Northern California for another opportunity for the last few years. That came to a head when this other opportunity in Texas came up. There was a lot of thinking, planning, assessing, and evaluating. There’s been asking and answering questions, talking to people, seeking advice and counsel, and praying. There’s been some testing in that, “Do I want to leave? Do I want to go there? God, what do you have for me there? What do you want there?” I’ve had to strip away a lot of things and narrow it down to, “What can I do there that I want to do anywhere? Who do I want to be there that I want to be anywhere?” It helped a lot with preferences. Laying aside certain preferences and keeping certain preferences. Moving to a different state and culture. There’s a lot of thinking, assessing and narrowing it down. This is going to be a good move. It’s going to be hard in a lot of ways, but it’s going to be good as well.
Was there any recurring fear during the process?
Maybe it was timing for me this round with this particular situation. I knew earlier that this was probably going to be something that I wanted. It wasn’t until later that I found out that the opportunity there also wanted me. Within that was trying to figure out, “Do I leave right away or do I leave in a few months because I’ve had a year commitment to my last two jobs?” I didn’t want to fail in making the wrong decision. If I choose to go now, I might be disappointing people. Maybe the fear was disappointing people. I naturally don’t struggle with that. I don’t struggle with what people think about me but that came up. “I’m going to disappoint my family. I’m going to disappoint my pastor or my community.” Their responses have been the complete opposite. There were a few weeks where I was afraid of failure and disappointing people. That’s not always the case. You’re going to disappoint people, but that doesn’t mean you’re failing.
Decisions and failure are similar. There’s a fear behind both of them because they both feel final and they’re not. A decision doesn’t mean that that’s set in stone for life. You can change your mind and make a different decision or you can pivot and go a different direction. You’re not locked in for life once a decision is made. It’s just been made. You can make another one. It’s the same with failure. It doesn’t mean that you are a failure and your life is a failure, it means you’re going to pick a new path or a new direction or you’re going to try again. That reality is there’s no finality in this, it’s been made, now move on. Accept it and move forward and it frees us up quite a bit. If you were living your final day on Earth. What one song would you want as a soundtrack to your day?
It’s Thugz Mansion by Tupac.
You are from Carson.
It puts me back into the days of the garage when the garage was mounted up by bucket, and it’s 2:00 in the morning. You’re kicking it with people and Tupac’s playing in the background, Thugz Mansion.
What new habit or belief has most positively impacted you in your life?
There’s been a lot of talk about identity, even in the Christian realm where you emphasize identity in Christ. That’s become a surface-y cliché you throw up there, but union with Christ, my unity with Him has completely changed my perspective and my emphasis. I’m completely set and I know that’s going to scare some people when I say that. In the Gospel, I’m set. I’m set because my life is hidden with Christ and God. That’s changed a lot of my motivations to do things because I’m not scared. I’m not scared and there was more fear in me than I had ever realized. It’s been comforting. When you’re comforted in this life, when you have support, and a motivation that’s promised to you that’s eternal, you could do anything and you want to do anything.
What book or books have had the biggest impact on you?
I’d say The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. I still have some desires to pursue a real estate license, so we’ll see. I love that book. The other is this book called Law and Gospel. I don’t remember who the author is. That’s been super helpful in thinking about the parameters that I make up for myself so that I can perform perfectly, rather than being more motivated by the Gospel and what Christ has done and resting in that. That being the motivation to do anything.
The last question we ask every guest is, if you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there, what would you say and why? They’d get this text message from you each and every morning.
There’s forgiveness and there’s hope in this life and not just for the life to come, but there is. There’s a place for guilt and shame, and it doesn’t have to be placed on you.
This has been awesome. Where is a good place for people to connect, reach out and find out more about you if they want to keep up to date or even say hello?
Until next time, thank you.
Thanks. I appreciate it.
I’m grateful for you. For all of you, we hope you have an up and coming week.
- Siona Savini
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- The ONE Thing
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