Posts tagged with: Faith In God

UAC 155 | Communicating For Change

 

In our quest to be perfect all the time, we sometimes forget to allow our human emotions to flow through and guide us towards becoming who we really are. Often, there is so much to be gained from allowing ourselves to be without any fear of being wrong. In this episode, Thane Marcus Ringler interviews George Towers, pastor at Denver United Church, to help us tap into the very human emotions that we tend to keep ourselves from feeling. They cover a range of topics from developing as a speaker who communicates for change, becoming a helpful contrarian, and noticing more, to understanding race and injustice in our country and living in the nuance. Plus, George further takes us into self-awareness, role models, perspectives on the bible, grit and tenacity, and more! Dive deep into this jam-packed episode where you’ll find how there is more to life if we allow ourselves to let go and learn from others.

Listen to the podcast here:

George Towers: Communicating For Change: How To Be A Helpful Contrarian, Noticing More, Maybe Being Wrong, And Living In The Nuance

This is a show all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that takes living with intention in the tension. What that means is that life is filled with tensions that we have to live in the midst of daily. The best way to embrace and live in the midst of those tensions is to infuse intentionality into all that we do, a purpose or a reason why we are doing what we’re doing. In this show, we interview other Up and Comers on their journey that they could share from their experiences and perspectives along the way and help us as we all journey forward in this dance called life. Thanks for being here and being a part of this community and this Up and Comers’ movement. We’re so glad you’re here.

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That’s it for the housekeeping and announcements. I will get straight to it because I have an interview that I am excited to share with you. I’ll interview George Towers. He was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. He’s a pastor at Denver United Church, a husband of a PhD cancer researcher, Christina, and the father of two future comedians, Noah and Levi. In his spare time, he enjoys golf, sour candy and heated debate with a close friend. He is short and sweet, but he is an amazing guy. In this interview, we discuss how to develop as a speaker. He’s gifted in what he does as a speaker, preacher and pastor.

We talk about rational and irrational fears, self-awareness, role models, the power of noticing, being a contrarian perspective on the Bible, grit and tenacity, understanding race and injustice in our country and his perspective on it, and so much more. I know that you are going to be blessed as much as I was blessed in this conversation. He’s a standup, genuine and authentic guy. Some of the ways that people described him was being an encourager. That ring true even for me within the conversation. There are a lot of encouragements that he gave and I felt. Other ways that people describe him is a brilliant, innocent brotherly love. There are lots of endearing things about him and he’s a great guy. I can’t wait for you to know about him. Without further ado, please enjoy this interview with George Towers.

George Towers, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me.

I’m excited to share a lot more conversation. One of the things that I love about getting to hear or virtually see you in an online church is your ability to convey a message for your words and to craft a message that impacts a heart but also does it in an entertaining, engaging and a thoughtful way. That’s what a good speaker does. What makes a good speaker in your mind? What does a successful or impactful speaker look like?

Several things and in no order of importance or ranking. Any good communication or communicator leaves you wanting a little bit more and not a little bit less. We’ve all been in those environments where someone goes on and on. It was good, but you went a little bit too long and you left me feeling like, “I wish you would’ve stopped seven minutes ago.” For me, I’d rather always err on the side of leaving people wanting a little bit more than a little bit less. Another thing is, do people remember what you said? You can have a bunch of fun, you could be moved, you could be challenged by any piece of communication or preaching or whatever your context is, but if you walk away and someone says, “How did it go?” “It was amazing.” “What did they talk about? What did you talk about?” “I have no idea.”

If it wasn’t clear and sticky, I don’t think we’ve done our job as communicators. For me, those are a couple that comes to mind. Leave people wanting a little bit more. Is it sticky? Does it engage them? Does it take them on a journey somewhere? The last piece is it has to be meaningful to me. If I’m talking about something that I don’t think is that powerful or that meaningful or that transformative, it’s not going to be that for you. If I think this sucks, it’s going to suck for you. At the same time, it’s free. That’s what I tell a lot of people, “Is this good to you?” “The thing you’re preparing to say, do you like it? Has it moved you? Has it changed you in some way?” If that’s it, give that to someone else and let it be what it is for them. If it’s good for you, it’ll be good for someone else.

It’s similar to Jeff Sheldon, who I had on the previous episode. He is a designer but then turned into an entrepreneur. He runs a small business. He creates products that he needs and that he wants more than anyone else. That’s why he’s successful because he’s filling the need that he has and then inherently, there are other people that have that.

I’ve heard another communicator. He said it this way, “What we can do sometimes is we get communication or creating a product and we want other people to like it. We want it to be good.” That’s good. We should want it to be good and helpful for other people, but there’s a different way of approaching it that I’ve tried to embody a little bit more of the past few years. Before I go up and preach or go speak, it’s like, “I’m going to have this experience. I’m going to go do this thing for myself.” All of you reading, you’re more than welcome to jump on. I would love it if you did, but I’m going to go do a thing right now.

Any good communication or communicator leaves you wanting a little bit more and not a little bit less. Click To Tweet

A lot of times, that will be what I pray. Before I go up and speak, I was like, “God, you’ve already shared this with me. I’m going to do this thing. I’m going to have a lot of fun and hope that anyone wants it.” It’s like Jesus said, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Whoever this is for, I hope you come with me, but I’m going to have a great time, regardless of if you like this or not. It frees us from the opinions and all that of other people we are trying to please. It’s more about like your friend said, “I’m going to create something I need and if you all want it, I would love for you to take it.”

I even listened to Hugh Jackman’s podcast on the road trip. He’s a stud. If you haven’t ever heard him before, he’s a thoughtful guy. They had him on The Tim Ferriss Show. He talked about this concept of 85%. When you want to perform your best, it’s typically around 85% of your effort. In the Olympics, it was a sprinter from the US and they interviewed him and they tried to figure out, why was he beating people? He got beat on the first 40 meters and he was behind and then he’d always kill everyone else on the rest. They are like, “How does he do it?”

If you look at him, his expression, facial and body features are the same in the entire race. Whereas his competitors are starting to strain and that you see their face strain, their neck strain and everything straining, but he’s cool. He’s 85% and that gives him the most speed. Similarly, with golf. If I’m going out there and I’m trying to make it happen, I’m trying to force it, it’s not going to happen. You have to have that 85% threshold of having fun. That enjoyment mixed with the ability and the training and the free expression of it.

I have another friend of mine, Pastor Tim Ross of the Embassy City Church down in Texas, outside of Dallas. If you listen to me talk at all, you’re going to hear a lot of Tim Ross because he’s my favorite communicator. One of the things that he said, and this goes along with the 85% thing is, “Anytime we’re preparing something, go for good.” Sometimes good is good enough, especially if God asks you to do it. For all the Bible people that are reading to this, and if you’re not, this is for you too. When God created the universe in Genesis 1 and 2, and whether you believe that happened literally or figuratively doesn’t matter. After he was done at every face, he said, “It’s good.” He didn’t say it was awesome or it was perfect. If God can be content with good, we should be content with it as well. Sometimes we get intense because we want whatever we’re doing to be perfect and amazing. We stress ourselves out trying to make it amazing. It’s like, “Just go for good.” Sometimes doing the next good thing is good enough. Eighty-five percent is good.

Why does that feel so wrong to us? Most humans would fall into, by default, a perfectionist tendency. Why is that do you think?

We want to be significant. A lot of it probably comes from good motives. We want to do something in the world that leaves an impact. Even if it’s for the next 27 minutes, when I give this talk, I wanted to do something significant, which comes from a good place. It has a shadow. Sometimes it’s about you, “I want people to think I’m amazing.” I’m not going to say that, but I want you to be like, “Thane is the most thoughtful, handsome and smart.” If we’re honest, a lot of it is we want people to think well of us, which is a natural human need, but that’s not sustainable.

I don’t think we can go on in the long-term trying to impress people. It’s not to settle on the other side and say that we do bad things or things that aren’t good, but good is good. The other thing Tim said is, “You stay up until 3:00 AM trying to make that thing perfect.” I’m going to go to bed at 9:30 and be okay with it being good. That difference between my emotional and physical wellbeing is going to allow me to do another good thing when you settle with the one amazing thing that probably wasn’t as amazing as you thought it was. It’s pride. We want to be awesome.

As you said, there’s a piece of that which is good. You want to have something that’s meaningful and purposeful, but when it’s centered around self, it’s when it shifts into the shadow side.

That’s good that you said that. Where is the energy coming from? Where’s it pointing? That’s the difference. You can work on something for hours and hours and give years of your life. I’m not saying cut corners and don’t pour yourself into it, but if it’s pointing back to self, I want people to think better of me versus I have a gift that I want to give to people. That’s the motive that’s a little bit different.

We started with irrational fears. Rational or irrational, it depends on your interpretation. Another one that depends on interpretation is speaking. A lot of people have immense fear around speaking and standing in front of an audience doing anything. Let alone sharing words, which is intimidating. That can be irrational and rational at the same time. Have you ever faced a fear of getting up in front of people and talking or has that always been natural to you? Do you think that’s natural or developed in that sense?

Yes, every single time. Every time I get on a stage to do anything, my heart is beating. I could be going up to like, “George, can you go up and pray fast?” I don’t think that ever goes away. Maybe for some people, but I’m speaking for myself. A lot of people will say, “You look so comfortable and natural.” I was like, “Maybe but I’m also nervous.” I don’t think those things are independent of one another. You can step into something, look and feel natural, but also respect the moment enough to be like, “This is significant and I get to do this.”

Any good communication or communicator leaves you wanting a little bit more and not a little bit less. Click To Tweet

There’s a healthy fear and respect for the moment. For me, for your first question, I’m nervous every single time. You can learn though to push past it. That’s what probably some of the best communicators do is they learn to feel that energy and allow themselves to lean into it versus allowing it to swallow them and they sink into that feeling. Sometimes people are weirdly surprised to hear that, but it’s a skill that can be developed to not allow that to push you away but to pull you in a little bit.

What is the gift of speaking? What does it give you as a speaker? How does it grow you as a person?

It forces you to have to go there first, before you try to talk about something like, “Is this real? Is what I’m about to say important?” As a parent, I know what I want my kids to do, but it’s not enough for me to have a goal or desire for them. I have to be able to communicate it in a way that works, that produces a positive outcome for that person. That’s part of the way is I grow through communication. It’s like, “Here’s what I’ve experienced, learned, felt and where I want to try to get people to. In 30 minutes, how do I get them to a place where they can see it for themselves and produce a positive outcome or fruit in their lives?” It’s a puzzle. It’s not enough to get up and say, “Here’s what I learned. Here’s what you should do and here’s why.” It’s not that simple. It’s like inception in a way. You have to come to it for yourself and it’s a challenge. It forces you to go deeper as an individual and to be honest about how has this affected you because sometimes we’re asked to communicate on things we don’t believe in and that never works.

In putting the puzzle together, what’s the process that you go through in putting that together, in preparing, getting ready and presenting?

One of the books that I’ve read that helped frame much of how I communicate to whatever extent it’s good or bad is a pastor named Andy Stanley that wrote a book called Communicating for a Change. His approach is what’s known at least in preaching Christian communication circles. It’s like having one-point messages. For me, that’s a way that I like to go about it. I rarely will have 5 or 3 points because I don’t remember them. I want you to walk away with one thing. I don’t remember anything else, “What’s the one point of this message?” That’s how I build my communications, “What’s the one thing I’m trying to get people to understand or to internalize? What’s the one question I want them to ask?” I then build backward from there.

My prep looks so different every time I do something. Sometimes it will involve me writing four pages of thoughts on an idea. Sometime it’ll start with a picture that I saw and I’m like, “That’s weird.” I’ve done it with index cards where I’ll write one word on an index card and organize them. It always is different, which is frustrating. I don’t have any formal process or template for how I do something. I’m always trying to communicate one thing at a time and trying to figure out how to make it as sticky as I can.

There’s another guy who’s a speaker, Houston Kraft. He came on the show. I remember, he broke it down similarly. It’s like a keynote is one idea with a bunch of different angles on that one thing. You can see it from different lenses. A workshop is a lot of points about one thing. It’s like getting things covered in a comprehensive way. That was a helpful framework for reference. One of the things you mentioned is the intuitive nature of the process that you go through. I want to hear a little bit about what level the intuition or the gut plays in how you prepare, but also when you’re speaking, how much of it is intuition led in that?

There are different styles and contexts of communication. I understand that. For me, I’m not looking at it as, “I’m standing up here to give you a lecture, so I’m going to read this thing to you.” Andy Stanley talks about it in his book. He uses this whole metaphor of a truck delivering things. The first step that he talks about is securing the cargo. Before I go off and start driving on the road, if I don’t tie down the stuff on the back and they’re not with me, then I’m going to pull off and everyone falls off at square one. I’m doing my thing and no one cares.

The intuition of that is gauging the room, “Am I staying present enough to the people that you’re talking to say, ‘Are they with me? If they’re not with me, I can’t move on.’” A lot of the stuff I’ll do in communication is trying to make sure people are with me. That’s why a lot of people will start with stories or start with something, “Is everyone with me? Am I trying to answer a question that no one’s asking?” You have to build some buy-in, but a lot of that happens in the preparation, “Is this important to me? Is this a question that’s meaningful to me?”

That takes flexibility at the moment to realize those things, “Are people with me? Are they understanding it? Do they care about this?” Part of that is why preparation is important because in the moment, I have to be able to read that. If I don’t know what I’m talking about, if I haven’t put in the work to know where I want to go and what I’m trying to do, I’ll be stuck on my notes instead of stuck on the people in the room. That’s been a phase for me that I’m learning is I don’t like to communicate with a piece of paper in front of me. A lot of people can and it blows me away how well they’re able to go from their paper to your face and flow. I can’t do it. I get stuck on the sheet and then I’m no longer gauging the room and figuring out, “Are people with me? Do they care? Are they confused? That guy is sleeping.” There is some intuition with that, but I have to prepare in a way that I can remember the big blocks of what I want to say, but it’s not so I can try to be impressive. It’s because I want to be able to stay in the moment and with the people because that’s the most important.

UAC 155 | Communicating For Change

Communicating For Change: It’s helpful to be able to see things from different perspectives. If we can’t do that, then we end up surrounding ourselves with people who are clones of ourselves.

One of the things I’m hearing a lot from you that’s important to underscore is this level of self-awareness. This ability to see yourself, who you are and what you need versus what other people need. That’s such a developed thing. It’s such a thing that comes from time and it’s such a thing that we would all do well to embrace and grow in. For you, in your journey, in your life, when did you see that shift take place for you from learning the universal principles from those around you or those in your field or in education or whatever it may be to start understanding yourself and what you need out of those?

Early on, whenever you start something, you need a role model. You need someone to look at to say, “How did they do it?” For me, Tim Ross was one of those guys for me and so many others. There comes a point where you get stuck in trying to do things like them. That’s one of the hardest places is finding yourself like, “I can’t be Tim. I can’t be Judah Smith. I can’t be Christine Caine. I can’t be these people, but they can’t be me either.” There is a level of discovery to say, “Who am I? How do I think? What’s my flow? What’s the natural thing that I do?” because you’re always going to be a lot.

You’re never going to be that person. One hundred percent of me is better than 75% of Steven Furtick or whoever. How have you created me to do this? Maybe no one else does it that way. For me, you’ve put this in me to do it or say it this way. For the first time that you start doing anything, you have to learn from people and you have to pull from different sources. I would say the last many years have been where I’m finally feeling like I’m starting to find my voice and the way that I’m supposed to say it. Not the way that other people have said it, but trying to find that. I would say it’s been the last few years of trying to understand that and to see the importance of it. We were talking about communication. We are the medium. We are the vessel. You can say something and I could say the same thing, but it’s going to be completely different because it’s coming through you, your experience, gifts and perspective. It’s realizing that being yourself is probably one of the most important things.

What would you say if someone said, “Who are you?”

I love to laugh. I’m an observer. I love finding little stupid, weird, quirky things and laughing at them and noticing them. I like to challenge things. I feel that’s a part of who I am like, “Here’s how we do it here.” “Why?” “It’s because we always have.” That’s stupid. I like to observe. I enjoy thinking about things and trying to understand that. My mom told me a story of when I was a kid. They thought I was taking a nap. They went into the room and I was awake. It had been a couple of hours and they said, “Do you want to come out and play?” They told me that I said, “No, I’m thinking about some things.” They were like, “Okay,” and they shut the door. I stayed in there for another 30 minutes and came out when I was ready. I was like, “That’s weird.” I enjoy that.

A lot of the things that I end up talking about come from those things. The reading of a line in the Bible, I think it’s 2 Timothy towards the end of the book. After Paul said all these deep theological things, there’s a little line where he says, “When you come back to see me, Timothy, grab my coat that I left over at that dude’s house and also bring my papers.” I was like, “What?” He forgot his coat. I’m thinking like, “We know the Bible is inspired and it’s the word of God. Does that count?” These are little things that I like to notice and dive into. I’m like, “Why did Paul ask for his coat? What does that mean? What scripture is and what does it mean for us? What are we supposed to take from that?” I’m learning that a lot of the things that I enjoy talking about the most come from those few things, observation, humor, noticing the funny, stupid things in the Bible, talking about them and exploring.

I want to hear a bit more about noticing, because I think that is a lost art. There’s a newsletter called The Art of Noticing, which is good. What helps you be a better observer or noticer in daily life?

Our pace has a lot to do with that. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years and I’m certainly not good at it yet, but slowing down. If we’re anxious to get to the next thing, then you won’t notice much of anything. That’s an issue that I know I have in my life and that I’m working on. I’m not a big worrier. I don’t get too far out in the future. I don’t tend to live too far in the past and deal with regret. I don’t go too far, but I have this bracket of plus or minus 10 to 15 minutes of my life. If I’m on the way home, I want to be home, or I’m thinking about the dumb thing I should have said 15 minutes ago when you asked me the first question.

If we’re never here now fully and completely, we won’t observe, we won’t notice. It’s slowing down enough to be present, to be where you are, to not be in a rush, to move slower, to not feel like you have to control an environment but to observe it. Those are all things literally slowing down the way that you speak or the way that you are walking, “Why am I walking so fast? I’m in no rush.” It’s doing things like that to slow down the way that you move and the way that you reach for that glass of water, do it slower. You open up your eyes to notice some more things. I was driving down the street and I haven’t thought about this sense. I noticed a girl who was on the side of the road, walking the other direction that I was driving and she was crying. She looks sad. This is a great story that I went back and prayed for her. No, I didn’t. I moved on. It’s like, “God, did I miss an opportunity there? Were you trying to show me something that I was busy, that I walked by an opportunity and I was moving so fast?” Pace, rhythm, slow down and take it in a little bit.

What reminders do you give yourself the most in that or what practices help you slow down or be more present with your pace?

My kids. I have a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old. They just go and go. There’s such a temptation to want to control them like, “Calm down. Put that. Stop.” There are all that, but they’re a reminder for me. I’m failing at this and probably miserably, this whole idea of pace and rhythm, but they are the biggest reminders for me. When I see them living their lives, they have no care. Levi was trying to catch a butterfly for fifteen minutes, holding his hands out, waiting for the butterfly to land on his hands. He has nowhere to be, he has no cares. He’s here and he wants to watch this butterfly.

Go for good. Sometimes, doing the next good thing is good enough. Click To Tweet

For me, watching how they are is a constant reminder to me of, “Be here. Where do you have to go? Where do you have to be?” Knowing that if I’m not here, I’m missing so much. Even as a parent, I’m missing this opportunity, watching them jump on the trampoline because I’m stressed out or worried about something else. They’re a constant reminder of what it looks like to live at a worry-free and stress-free pace, and also the encouragement to do it as well as for them. I know I’ll wake up and they will be eighteen and not wanting to hang out with me anymore. They’re a good reminder. Parenting is a practice.

The other thing that you brought up is being a contrarian. One of the background calls that you mentioned that you were very strongly opinionated contrarian, but good-hearted. I’m curious because I think the nature of our current moment in history and society is one that’s opinionated and diametrically opposed to each other in every arena. We are very divided. We experienced more contrarian encounters with people. Unfortunately, they seem to not be always good-hearted or they come across in ways that aren’t good-hearted, even if it is from a good heart. What posture do you hold in that to be helpful in opposing what’s commonly accepted or maybe the popular opinion among the people you’re with?

I’m the type of person who has strong convictions weakly held. Sometimes I come across strong like “This is what I think,” and then I’m like, “Do I care as much as I’m coming across now?” We should all have convictions. We all think something and we all think we’re right, or else we would think something else. For me, it’s more of an exercise. One of my favorite things to do is debate. I love to argue. I’m going to argue with you about anything. Halfway through I’m like, “Do I even think this or am I having a good time arguing?”

It’s helpful to be able to see things from different perspectives. If we can’t do that, then we end up surrounding ourselves with people who are clones of ourselves. It’s realizing that there’s a whole bunch of people that viewed this issue, whatever it is, completely different than me. Especially, when you go on social media and you won’t have to flick your index finger a couple of times of scrolling before you’ll see a post that says something like, “I don’t understand why the,” and then they go on to say something about an opinion that they don’t agree with. The first few words of that, “I don’t understand,” stop there.

“You gave it away. I don’t get it.” The problem is probably not with that view, it’s with your ability to understand it. For me, I love thinking and listening to people who don’t agree with me because I want to understand it. I don’t want to be ignorant and say, “I don’t understand how anyone could vote for this person.” Why don’t you try? “I don’t understand how anyone could have opposed this movement.” Why don’t you try? That might be your problem. Part of my personality is that I try to approach it from that point. I probably get it wrong a lot, but I want to be able to understand other perspectives. The truth is I might be wrong about a lot of the stuff that I believe. We think a lot of other people are wrong. We could all grow from looking through someone else’s eyes for a second and trying to understand it.

That’s such an important phrase to embody is, “I might be wrong.” What if we all embrace that idea? Because we’re wrong about a lot of things and that doesn’t mean that your identity is at risk and who you are as a person is in jeopardy. We take it like that and I think that’s a problem.

That’s a line I’m trying to put into my vocabulary more. As a pastor, a lot of times people will ask me, “What do you think about whatever?” Whether it’s theology or anything. I try to preface most of it with, “I’m getting more comfortable acknowledging that most of what I currently think is probably wrong.” Here’s why I am right. I asked for the right to change my opinion. If all of us could go back and ask the version of ourselves that existed fifteen years ago of what we thought, I hope you’re going to get some different answers. If you think the same thing that you thought about everything when you were seven, versus when you’re 27, that’s sad.

Sometimes that’s presented as noble like, “I’m committed to my beliefs.” What if they were wrong? We want to grow. We want to expand. That can only happen when you acknowledge, “I could be wrong about this.” That doesn’t mean you don’t have to have convictions or don’t have to have beliefs, don’t have to have opinions, but don’t put the death grip on them. You don’t have to hold them tightly. Keep an open hand with your beliefs and say, “I could be wrong about this. If I am, I’ll change my opinion but here’s where I am right now.”

One of my favorite quotes by Muhammad Ali is, “The man who views the world at 50, the same as he did at 20, has wasted 30 years of his life.” I love the idea of strong convictions weakly held. That’s a great stance. Honestly, even asking for permission to change your mind is so helpful. There’s another quote that Alan Watson said, “You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago.” I say it to myself all the time because sometimes we get stuck in a rut. Even when me and my wife, if I get stuck in a rut, I’m like, “I don’t want to change,” but then you can change. Don’t be the same person you were.

If you’re in a bad mood because you and your wife got in a fight, everyone’s tense and you said, “You could stop. You don’t have to keep doing this.” At any point in time, I’m under no obligation to be the same person that was fifteen minutes ago. I could stop and be happy.

That consistency bias is so strong in us but that’s so helpful to remember. Some intellectual honesty to say, “We change and that means growth.” We should be growing in our whole lives. Either you’re growing or decaying and both are changed.

UAC 155 | Communicating For Change

Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication

My younger son, Levi, is four and already smarter than me. He asks good questions. He’ll ask questions about God or faith. I find myself having to give him answers that his 4-year-old can contain. He thinks like a 10-year-old. He’s going to grow up thinking some things about God that I hope will evolve when he’s 24 or 54. Sometimes we hold so tightly to the things that maybe aren’t wrong, but they’re incomplete. We’re not always asked to abandon our belief, but maybe widen it, maybe go a little bit deeper into something. It feels like a threat. In most areas of our life, change is a good thing. It’s something that’s celebrated. Have a conviction, a belief and an opinion, but don’t die on that hill. Maybe you want to go deeper or maybe you need to go a different direction at some point.

Speaking of change, what is a belief that you formally held to be true that you no longer believe?

This is probably connected to a broader one. I’m a church guy, that’s a big part of my life and who I am. As a kid, I grew up believing and also feeling like I had to believe, maybe someone didn’t tell me that, but it was baked in that God created the universe physically, literally in 6 to 24-hour periods. If you believe that, I’m totally with you. I don’t think that’s true anymore. I don’t think I have to believe that in order to believe everything else. I used to believe my dad was the strongest man in the world like every kid until you realize he’s probably average. One of the things that’s changing for me is what the Bible is and what it isn’t. I’ve moved on many things within those brackets while still believing that it is the inspired word of God, at the same time, which makes a lot of people very uncomfortable. The first one is maybe an indication of a movement that I’ve had. That’s part of a larger movement that’s happening.

There’s another quote from Oswald Chambers, “God be as original with you as He is with you.” We get nervous when we hear things where, “God seems a little different to this person than He is to me.” George, you’re different to me than you are to your wife, but you’re the same person. It’s a personal relationship that we’ve missed that so much. I want to hear a little more about this. In your current view or perspective, what is the Bible and what is it not if you had to put some words to that?

People will ask, “Who wrote the Bible? Do you believe God wrote the Bible?” No. I don’t believe God has a pen. I believe that God is spirit. He’s not male. He doesn’t have an Adam’s apple. He doesn’t have an XY chromosome. For God to write it, he would have had a pen, a hand and a thumb, but I don’t think that’s what God is. People wrote it. If we can’t start there, I don’t know where else we can start. “Did God breathe on it and breathe into it?” Absolutely. I don’t know if this is where I’m at, but I think it’s close. I believe that the Bible is not a static view of who God is. It’s not like, “I have this book and here’s who God is.” It’s more of a progressive view and it’s not even a book. It’s a library of a lot of different books written over a long period of time. In that library, we get to see a progressive view of who people thought God was at the time that. At the time, it was such a move forward in the right direction that God decided to breathe on it, to breathe life into it and to inspire it, which is what the inspire means to breathe into.

Within that, we see these movements take place throughout the entirety of scripture where I don’t believe God is changing, but people’s understanding of who God is changing. God always has to meet us where we are. Where else would he meet us? He meets people where they are to move them forward into a fuller understanding of who He is and who He’s been the whole time. That’s a part of it, which is why you see crazy stuff in the Bible that it seems like God is doing and saying. If you believe God is static, then you have to do some weird gymnastics to try to make it all make sense. Whereas for me, I don’t feel like I need to do that. I can be like, “That’s what they thought.” That seems a little wild. It’s a lot more nuanced, gray and weird than we want it to be. That’s a movement that’s happening for me of seeing everything in scripture as being a static picture of God, almost like God’s word to us. I’m seeing it more of like our words about God and our attempt to understand the infinite. God working with us along the way to bring us to a full and complete understanding of who He is, which ultimately is expressing the person of Jesus.

That’s one of the most helpful constructs that I’ve heard. I would relate with a lot of that. Who people thought God was and the progression of that as a framework, a lens for looking at the Bible is so helpful. That’s where everything becomes helpful for a minute. Especially, for people who look at the Old Testament and this is an Old and New covenant and are like, “These two don’t seem compatible,” but if you think about it in a progression, it makes perfect sense. At our core, at our fundamental level, we want justice. That’s how our heart believes. The Old Testament God is a God of justice. You would see that in very extreme ways. If you remove all of the modern evolution and progression that we have as adults in America, if you remove that and you get to the core like, “Do good, get good. Do bad, get bad,” we long for that. That’s why every movie is like that. That Old Testament perspective on God is needed. We need to know that He’s a God of justice.

This is where it gets nuanced, “Try to follow me and don’t go where I’m not going.” If you’re the type of person that believes that everything in the Old Testament God tells people to do, that God was telling them to do that, I’m not coming for you. That’s totally good and right. I’ve bumped up against many people over the last decade of my life that have walked away from Christianity because of things like that. I’m coming to the place where I’m comfortable being able to talk to that person and say, “If they don’t believe God told someone to do that, maybe he didn’t.” I’m like, “Cool.” Take the book of Joshua in the Old Testament, which is essentially a group of people in the Middle East, the Israelites going through and conquering city after city, killing a lot of people because God told them to.

There are certain places where God gets upset because He’s like, “You all didn’t kill the women and the children. Go back and kill them all.” We can romanticize that in our head like, “Thanos snapped them and they disappeared into nothing,” but no, these were like sharp pieces of metal that people were shoving into people’s bodies because God told them to. I know a lot of people that check out right there because they’re like, “I can’t believe in a God that would ever do that and say that.” There are some people that would make this argument and this is what I’m comfortable making. I’m not saying I agree with it, but I’m comfortable with it to say, “Every nation in that time had a version of a God that was a warrior, that told them to go and take other people’s land and kill everyone there. Is it crazy to think that a lot of people would have thought God was telling them to do that when he wasn’t?”

I’m totally comfortable making that. I’m okay with that. Is it possible that they got it wrong? It’s hard to reconcile some of that with Jesus’ teachings on, “Pray for your enemy and be kind to them.” Unless it deals with land, then go slaughter them all. Is it possible that a group of people thought God told them to do something that God was like, “I never told you how to do that?” Have you ever thought God told you to do something and then you get 5 to 10 years, 5 to 10 minutes away from the moment? You’re like, “I think I was wrong about that.” The only difference is someone didn’t write it down in a scroll to be studied for thousands of years. I’m not saying that it’s true, but I’m becoming more comfortable having some more latitude in how we understand what these things are and who God is as represented in these stories and passages.

This is such an important conversation too because this is a theme that we see, especially in many avenues and lens. This is the idea of, “If I take this first step, it means that the tenth step will be next.” If I say, “This may not be exactly how it went down,” that means the rest of it is in jeopardy.

We could all grow from looking through someone else's eyes for a second and trying to understand it. Click To Tweet

It’s a rational fear. I totally get that. The truth is those things are already there. We’re already working around a lot of stuff that we’re not comfortable with and don’t know what to do with, so then we don’t talk about it. One of the other big ones for me, in the last chapter of Leviticus, there’s a portion of scripture there at the end, this is God speaking and he starts to give the monetary value for human beings, “If you want to redeem a male person between this age and this age, here’s how much they’re worth.” It’s these many shekels or whatever. The woman’s worth is 2/3 of that. If it’s a male teenager, “Here’s how much it’s worth and it’s less.” I’m like, “Does God actually think that women are less than men monetarily?”

It’s in the book and God is saying it. If you have a rigid view of what scripture is supposed to be, you’re stuck unless you say, “The new covenant got rid of all that.” It might be a little intellectually dishonest. It’s like, “What do I do with that?” You’re already on a slope. I’m starting to grow, to reject the slippery slope argument as a whole. I don’t think it’s honest. It’s like, “No, you don’t have to throw out the whole thing. Let’s deal with this one thing and do right by this and try to understand it.” My point is, there’s already a lot of that stuff that’s in there that people don’t want to read or don’t want to think about, but there’s a whole bunch of people and as a pastor, I’m concerned with this, they are walking away from Jesus and Christianity for things like that. I’m like, “I don’t think that’s necessary.”

That’s true in politics, in this conversation around race in America and in a lot of veins in. If sitting in a politics, “If you agree with this, then you must be over there.” That’s the first and tenth step. That’s not fair to anyone. Let alone yourself, because if you were above that standard, you would be in a lot of box that you don’t want to be, especially God. This speaks to the big picture version. How can we look at the picture as a whole? This is a little piece of the whole. It tells us a little something about the whole.

I learned that this is a very controversial statement, but I don’t think it is. Going back to what we were talking about what is the Bible to me and what is not? It is probably one of the most important things that we have. I’m thankful for it. I can’t stress how important it is. I’ve given a large part of my life to teaching the Bible but here’s the truth. There were a whole lot of Christians before we had the Bible. Remember the first time I said that a few years ago to someone and they started sweating and getting all red? It’s like you know that the Bible is not the foundation of Christianity. Christians existed before they had the Bible because it was still being written. No one in the decades after Jesus’ death could be, “Romans 6 says,” because Romans hadn’t been written.

We built up almost a separate religion like Bibliology. It can become an idol. When in fact the root of Christianity was a bunch of people saying, “I saw that dude die and then I saw him again and we had fish.” I’m going to go with that. Thankfully, people had experiences and wrote them down, but all of this sits on a person. Any person that left because of the Bible, I’m like, “Christianity isn’t built on it. It can’t be. Christians existed before we had it. Come back, let’s re-examine. Let’s talk about that verse that was weird, but you don’t have to throw the whole thing out for something that’s not the foundation.”

That is such a foundation and an important point. Speaking about the Bible, and there’s a whole spectrum of views, but a lot of my background and a lot of the conservative side replaces the Holy Spirit with the Bible and the Trinity. That’s a bad exchange. How has the Bible changed you and shaped you as a person? What impact does it have on you as a book?

I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you without it. The fact that we have it is crazy. All of the stories of the Old Testament and much of the New is about a very small group of people of the Middle East thousands of years ago. How many other things happened back then that we don’t even know about? The fact that we have it is incredible and the wisdom of God through it, the calling that all of us have as human beings to live into, that we see illustrated in these books, the selflessness, it’s so relevant.

Do we think climate and care for the Earth is a new idea? Read some of the Old Testament. It peaked over the horizon of time and saw all that we would ever go through. It’s not new, whatever you’re going through right now, some people 3,000 years ago went through some version of that also. It is hugely important. I wouldn’t know about Jesus likely if someone hadn’t written something down and people traveled around the world to tell someone a long time ago.

As you said, replacing the Bible with the Holy Spirit, Jesus said when he was getting ready to go to sin, “I’m going to go away, but don’t worry because when I go, I’m going to send you the Holy Spirit and it’s better for you that I go away.” He didn’t say, “I’m going to go away and don’t worry because I’m going to send 66 books bound in leather that is going to explain everything to you.” That’s how we act sometimes that he said he was going to give a book that would lead us and guide us into all truth. While the Bible is huge and important, one of the most important things to me, it cannot replace the value of the Holy Spirit that will lead me and guide me into all truth. That’s God’s job to do. He uses many different things to do it.

I want to hear a little bit about your childhood. You spoke to role models a bit earlier, and I know we were speaking more in the realm of speaking and communicating. What did you want to be when you were a kid? What do you want to be when you grew up and who are the role models you looked up to?

UAC 155 | Communicating For Change

Communicating For Change: Have a conviction, a belief, and an opinion, but don’t die on that Hill.

The first thing I remember saying that I wanted to be when I grew up was a mountain climber or a pizza maker. Those are the two things that I like and I’ve done neither of those things. For those of you that don’t know, I’m black. For a lot of kids growing up, you wanted to go to the NBA. That was one of my dreams. I played a lot of basketball and wanted to do all of that. As far as role models growing up, you had people that you looked up to like Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Dwayne Wade. I would sit out in my garage and practice the crossovers.

I would say a couple of different categories. One was my parents. I was blessed to have such amazing parents. Both of my parents are amazing. My mom was an engineer. At the time and probably still now a lot of ways, to have a lot of women in that field was unlikely, but also black women that were engineers was not a thing. She went through a whole lot of stuff but seeing the grit and the push-through-it-ness displayed through her. Not only that, but she’s also a three-time breast cancer survivor. Seeing them push through adversity and do it with faith, with grace and tenacity and like, “You won’t hold me down,” type of a thing.

Seeing that in my parents and my grandparents made you feel like you could go do whatever you wanted to do. The odds may be stacked against you in certain ways, but who the hell cares? Go do the thing that you’re going to do and don’t let anything stand in the way. My parents and family are huge role models. Then we were growing up in the church. There’s a handful of individuals over the years that took me under their wings. I started playing the drums in church when I was thirteen. Getting to hang out with different music pastors at the time that would pick me up from basketball practice. Go to the church, practice and play. Go to guitar center and help him pick out a keyboard. Being around the church and being around people that believed in me.

Looking back on it, at that time, you didn’t know how much they were sacrificing, but these are grown men with kids and families, but you’re coming to pick me up and spend all this time pointing to me and teaching me. It doesn’t make any sense looking back on it. I would say those are probably the two categories of role models that had the biggest impact on me. It was my parents and a younger brother, them in general and different church leaders over the years. They poured sacrificially into me and that was huge.

I love that story of grit and tenacity from your mother. Do you remember specific times in your childhood growing up when you faced a moment where the deck was stacked against you, you knew it and you were trying to figure out what you were going to do? Were you going to go through it, or were you going to try to go a different route? Do you have an illustration or example from a moment like that where your parents or another role models were able to come alongside you?

One that sticks out to me was there was a point where my two passions collided like sports, basketball, music and church stuff. When you’re 14 or 15 years old, that’s the biggest crisis. When I was playing basketball, I made the team at high school, but there came a point where I had to choose. The schedule didn’t work out. You can’t play ball and be involved in church at the same time. I went to my parents who were my role models and I said, “Tell me what to do.” They didn’t tell me what to do. It was like, “Do what you want. What do you want? We’ll support you.”

It wasn’t as much as what they said in moments like that. It was what they modeled. That moment for me modeled that they trust me to make a decision, that I probably have it in me. I have the strength. I have the ability to make a hard choice. Either way, it’s going to be hard. Seeing that trust or feeling that trust from them to make that decision is a moment like that. It’s more watching, it’s more to see. So much you pick up is through osmosis. You see them grinding and see them doing their best to succeed. A lot of it was not what they said, but what they didn’t say. I don’t remember them making a lot of excuses in front of us and complaining about why they didn’t get this thing and someone else did. They probably felt that way and they probably had a lot of validity to a lot of things, but there was a, “I’m going outwork you,” type of mentality. The absence of complaining, excuse-making and all of that, is probably impacted me more than I even know.

You mentioned what your mom overcame as a black woman becoming an engineer in a field where that’s nonexistent. How has your childhood experience as a black boy growing up in America? How was it similar and how was it different even from what you’ve heard from your parents’ experience?

It’s probably similar. My parents grew up in different parts of Oklahoma City in Tulsa. My granddaddy died a few years ago. He was that guy. The most rugged intense guy you ever met. He’ll look at you, point at you with his whole hand, “I’m trying to tell you something, Jack.” He said stuff like Jack. He was in a military and police enforcement railroad detective. There was a time where they moved and at that time, he was like, “All the white people lived on the North side of town and all the black people lived on the South side of town.”

Granddaddy moved my mom and her brother. We’re moving to the North side with all the white folks. He went around and he knocked on every door in the neighborhood and said, “My name’s Robert Wright. I just moved into the neighborhood. If you have a problem, you come to talk to me. If you mess with my family, I’m coming for you.” Every door and he never had any problems. My mom and uncle grew up used to being one of the only black kids in the neighborhood. That was my experience. We grew up in Parker, Colorado. We grew up in a predominantly white space all throughout the time I was born until middle school.

I was used to being the only black or any nonwhite person in the class. I talked to a lot of my white friends and like, “Have you ever been in a situation where you were the only white person?” It’s amazing how that for a lot of people has never happened. That’s how I grew up. I got used to that. I got used to knowing, and feeling that I was different from everybody else. It has to shape how you go about it and how you engage in like, “Do I try to fit in?” Everyone has an image in their head of what black people are. “Should I try to be that for them?” I know that those are things that my parents went through growing up as well.

Believe others before you try to defend or offer an alternative perspective. Click To Tweet

What was that like for you as you were in that experience or that role? I remember in a unity episode, I had a buddy of mine, Barry Moore, he talked about how he’s half-black and on one side of the family, he would interact or talk or even be in a way that they can understand and on the other side, he’d be in a way that they could understand. He was living in the tension of both, but his parents did an awesome job of letting him be free to be both in that sense when needed versus making him choose. What was that like for you as you were navigating that growing up and how did you live in that culture?

I probably didn’t have a lot of overtly negative experiences. A lot of them were more passive probably. I would say a lot of that tension was maybe felt internally and within the black community. I hear people say this all the time. It’s funny if someone’s talking about a black person and they’re describing them and you’ve probably heard someone say stuff like this, “He’s super sharp, very well put together and well-spoken.” “Are you saying that most of us shouldn’t be that?” Growing up in like an all-white space and all my friends were white, I might to the black people had not been black enough.

To the white people, you don’t fit in quite either. It’s this weird space of feeling like, “I don’t fit all the way in any other space.” Luckily, the one space I did have that was instrumental was our church at the time. In late elementary school, early middle school, it was a very diverse church. That was a home base to be around a whole bunch of different types of people. It is challenging to feel like as the only black kid in the room, you are the representation of a whole bunch of beliefs for those people. You’re the only one they might ever have seen or know, or that they’re going to see in this neighborhood. There’s a weird pressure to represent who we are, but not to try to cater too much to what you want me to be, but then struggling when you go back to the black, “You talk white.” First off, what does that even mean? Feeling like, you can’t all the way fit in either space.

That feels like a place where you are living in a constant state of tension and inner tension, especially. It makes sense to see the time to what we’ve talked about what you’re navigating, as you think about the Bible, about communicating and about all the things we’ve talked about is things are nuanced. They’re complex. The only way you can sit and live in nuance is by being comfortable with tension. You’ve grown up in an environment of tension in a lot of ways. As you look at this resurgence of a focus on injustice and how America has been a very different experience for different people. I’m curious to hear what you think is helpful for several of the communities? The white community, for the black community and even for their church. I’d be curious to hear what you found or what you want to encourage people with into those communities? Each community needs something different.

This is something I’ve been trying to process and to work on for myself because most of us in one form or another have participated or currently participate in some form of privilege or benefit. Me being a male in our current society, I have certain benefits that some of our white female people reading this don’t have, by the nature of being a man. There are probably so many other spectrums that we could talk about. One of the things I’m trying to do and trying to make a part, a habit for me because this is not going to be the last time that this happens is when someone in a non-privileged position or someone that’s being hurt or oppressed or whenever they tell me something, listen to them.

It sounds so simple but believes them. As a man, if a woman comes in and tries to talk about, “Here’s my experience that I’ve gone through being the only woman in this corporation and what I felt when I walk into the meetings.” If they’re trying to tell me that, and my first thing is like, “You’re welcome here.” My first thing is to defend a position. I’m probably missing it. Believe her, she’s telling you something. I would say to my white friends and what I’ve encouraged to see so much of is like the first step is try to believe people when they tell you, “Here’s what I’m seeing, feeling and experienced.” Believe them before you try to defend or offer an alternative perspective.

It could feel like you’re writing off me and what I’m trying to say. That will be a good one. I would also say maybe for my white friends there are a lot of people who will say things like, “My ex-roommate’s best friend is black. When we talked, so I’m learning about the black perspective,” Deon doesn’t provide a full representation of the black perspective. If people ask me that, I wanted to get the black person. I’m like, “I’ll give you my perspective. Here’s what I’ve gone through, here’s what I’ve seen and here’s what I’ve experienced,” but we’re not a monolith.

There isn’t one perspective on black people no more than there is one perspective on white people or one perspective on rich people. It’s a very wide issue. Don’t think just because you heard Don Lemon talk about something or you talk to one guy that I understand it. It’s a very wide stream with room for a lot of different perspectives and opinions. It requires you to dig in, to be a student, to learn and to listen. Those are a couple of things that would be helpful. You asked about a couple of different categories.

The church is another one.

I’ve heard a lot of people in church circles say things along the lines of, “This is good that we’re doing this,” “We’re talking about this,” but like “When can we get back to the main thing,” or a lot of people that don’t even want to talk about it. We shouldn’t be talking about this. We’re being distracted from the main mission and call of the church. Why are we talking about racism? One of those things makes me want to explode. If we’re not talking about this, what are we doing? What else should we be talking about? If we can’t care about this, what does that say about who we are and what we stand for? Lean into this. One of the most frustrating things is sometimes we act like we’ve been having this conversation for six years with this level of intensity. People are like, “Can we move on?” It’s been three weeks? Wake me up in nine years if we’re still talking about it every single weekend and we’re spending all of our resources and time on it.

UAC 155 | Communicating For Change

Communicating For Change: You’re doing better than you think you are. You’re not perfect, but you’re good. Sometimes good is good enough. Keep going forward.

I’m not even saying I would agree with you then, but I would understand the need for, “Can we like the move?” You see the unrest for the church and for so many people where if we spend three weeks talking about racism, there are so many people that like, “Can we move on to the Jesus stuff?” “No, we can’t. Jesus said I came for the oppressed. I came to set the captives free.” If it’s not this, then what is it? I know it’s uncomfortable. The church is awkward. It brings up a lot of feelings that you don’t know what to do with and I don’t want to do with. We want to move on. We want to go back to talking about prayer. Something that’s a little more comfortable that we have a box for it. We don’t know what to do with these things. A lot of it is probably because it gets co-opted and pulled into political categories. We’re not arguing about racism, we’re arguing about politics. We have to defend our candidate, or our position or our party. That’s why we want to move on because it gets pulled into a political issue when it’s not. We don’t like discomfort.

The last one was to the black community, to fellow brothers and sisters in it.

The thing that comes to mind that I would say is, I have a lot of friends who had been involved in this work of racial justice for a lot longer than I have. sometimes there can be a perspective of things are getting worse or maybe things have not gotten better in the past 100 or 200 years. I get that perspective because we have so much work to do. If I could get my granddaddy on the podcast, someone who had dogs from the police let loose on him and sprayed with fire hoses and couldn’t go in certain places physically, that he would probably smack me in the face. It can be maybe a level of disrespect for the fight from people that came before us to say that it hasn’t gotten any better, that it’s worse than ever. It’s not. We have come a long way.

The fact that I have a voice to say anything, wasn’t the case, not too long ago. At the same time, can we also recognize that we do have a long way to go? You’re standing on the shoulders of people that have come before us. Let’s not diminish what our grandparents and their grandparents have done in the sacrifices they have made by saying things like, “This is the new form of slavery and it’s worse than it’s ever been.” At the same time, there are people that want to use that argument to say that there’s not much left to do and the fight is pretty much already over because we signed that document back in the ‘60s. My perspective would be the road ahead of us, is probably longer than the road behind us.

We probably have more ground to make up than we’ve covered, but can we pull from that past progress and use that for encouragement, for fuel to propel us on the road ahead? I haven’t seen this amount of rallying of people being willing to say, “I’m with it. I believe you. We’ve got work to do.” That gives me a lot of encouragement. To the people in the black community, we should be encouraged, not by what is wrong, but by the ground we’ve covered and by the number of people that are waking up to the reality that we have a lot further to go than we’ve traveled. That should feel you’ll us to some with some amount of encouragement.

I used a football metaphor when I was talking to my cousin about this, “We’re probably not going to score a touchdown on this drive, on this current possession, of racial injustice fight. We probably won’t solve all the problems right now, but let’s move the ball. Let’s flip the field, let’s get a little bit further. We might have to punt. Something’s going to happen again in 1 or 2 years and all this is going to come back up, but when we get the ball back, we won’t have to start on the goal line. We can start at 25 or 40.” I won’t have to talk to my friends again about racial bias and implicit bias. We don’t have to start there again. We can start a little bit further and I want to leave this place better for Noah and Levi when they’re 33 that they’re not having to fight the same battles that I am. That’s what I would say, be encouraged, don’t grow weary, you got a lot of allies, a lot of people that want to fight with you.

For people wanting to educate, learn more, especially for people like me that are white, what are good resources? Where do you steer? Where do you point people to? One of the things I watched with my wife was The Help. I’d never seen that before but what a great movie. I was inspired and in the same sense, saddened to see a real depiction of that. What do you recommend? What resources for education, learning and for growing in that realm do you give out?

Before you go to resources, one is a psychological mindset exercise before you go diving into research. It’s getting to the realization that this is not ancient history we’re talking about. Even the stuff we want to act like happened a long time ago if we could get ourselves to understand that like it wasn’t that long ago. To think that we could have hundreds of years that are comprised of legalized slavery, segregation, and ripping resources away from people and giving them to another group. If we think we can have that happen for hundreds of years and in the last 45 to 50 years, we’ve got rid of all the residue, we’re mistaken.

That stuff is still floating around in the culture, in the air, in some of the systems. Can we wrap our minds around that this is not ancient history we’re talking about? Once you do that, go back and look at what happened. Do your own research. I have some specific things that come to mind that could be good resources. One is the documentary that we were talking about on Netflix, that’s called 13TH of looking through what happened with the 13th Amendment, what happened post-slavery, how incarceration had played a role in, and what it’s doing now. I’m not trying to say everything in that documentary is 100% right and true.

I don’t know that, but it’s a helpful portal into saying what happened in the past and how is that affecting what’s going on right now? Reading some books are good. We are reading with our church something called Beyond Colorblind by Sarah Shin and Be the Bridge by Latasha Morrison. Two incredible women, that can speak to on this issue of racism in America and specifically to the church, how should we respond? Those are a couple that is good. Second to the last would be movies. Go watch some movies and do it with beyond the goal of being entertained for 95 minutes, but try to put yourself in their shoes and see the world through their eyes and say, “How would I feel if that was me?” Exercise some empathy there.

The road ahead of us is probably longer than the road behind us. Click To Tweet

The last thing I would say is relationships. Conversations with people in your life. If you’re a white person who has no nonwhite friends, talk about it with your white friends, ask them, “What do you think about racism in America?” open up a conversation. Maybe if you don’t have any non-white, friends that says something too, “Am I surrounded myself with people who look and think exactly like myself?” If you’re a black person, that has all black friends, maybe that says something about who you’re surrounding yourself with, and maybe you could benefit from hearing some other perspectives from other people.

I heard Carl say this one time. He talked about how distance creates distortion, but proximity creates passion. If I’m far from an issue, I can theorize it, I can come up with all these weird beliefs that end up distorting the reality because I’m not close to it. If I’m close, if there’s proximity, that creates passion. The racial injustice conversation, if you’re distant from it and you don’t have any friends that are have been affected by that in the lives, it’s easy to distort it. What will change everything is if your roommate is Hispanic and they’re telling you about their experience and what they felt growing up, it creates a passion in you that that’s a result of your proximity. I would say, make it personal. Talk to people about it. In your life, ask them questions, be slow to speak, be quick to listen and slow to get angry. Listen without thinking about what you want to say next and let it sink in. All those things would help.

The idea of listening and believing them, that’s something that even on a relational level, that’s something I can work and grow in with my wife. Even if you are not trying to defend something, but listen and believe.

“When you did that, it made me feel like this.” Instead of being like, “Wow,” we want to be like, “But you shouldn’t feel like that.” No. Listen to her and believe her. I do that too. I’m failing too.

It’s hard but it’s good. It’s such great reminders. What can you not imagine living without?

Sour candy.

What’s your top sour candy?

Sour Patch Watermelons. Until I hit 40, I’m going to stop.

Imagining your 50-year-old self, what advice do you think you’d give your current self?

Slow down.

What question do you ask yourself the most?

UAC 155 | Communicating For Change

Communicating For Change: We get so bogged down with what we’re not doing. The problem is we’re with ourselves every day that we don’t get to see our growth and the ways that we’re doing better than we were the day before.

 

What will my great-grandchildren think about my podcasts or my messages? What will they be able to clearly see that I was wrong about, that I’m blind to right now? That’s a question that drives so much of what I do is trying to think about not what will people think of me right now, but what will everyone in 100 years so clearly be able to see that I can’t see now and trying to unearth that now. Be willing to be wrong today so I can be right tomorrow.

If you could be one other person, who would that person be and why?

Maybe like an Albert Einstein-type of dude. What would it feel like to be the smartest person in the room? Maybe you invented the time machine that you didn’t tell anybody about. That another passion of mine is time-traveling weird quantum stuff.

If you could give a TED Talk, what would it be on?

It would be on something with the Bible, what it is, what it’s for, what it’s not, something with all of that.

If you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there, what would you say and why?

Probably something along the lines of, “You’re doing better than you think you are. You’re not perfect, but you’re good. Sometimes good is good enough. Keep going forward. You’re doing better than you think. Be encouraged.” Something along those lines. We get so bogged down with what we’re not doing, but the problem is we’re with ourselves every day. We don’t get to see our growth and the ways that we’re doing better than we were the day before.

To underscore that, some of the people I talked to, one of the ways they describe you was as an encourager. That rings very true with those words. George, thank you so much.

Thanks for so much for having me on. This is amazing. You’re a phenomenal guy. I want to be more like you and appreciate you taking some time to have a conversation.

Where can people reach out and say hello or find out more about what you’re saying on the podcast and some of those?

Be willing to be wrong today so you can be right tomorrow. Click To Tweet

I work at Denver United Church. You could jump on our website, DenverUnited.com and find some stuff that I’ve said or some podcasts that we’ve been a part of. I don’t have a website. Look me up on social media and say, “Hi.” My name’s George Towers. I’m a black dude. You’ll probably find me there.

Thanks again and until next time. We hope you have an up and coming week because we out.

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UAC 148 | Being Informed

 

In a world where information is right at our fingertips, where do we draw the line between taking in all that we can and exploring for ourselves what we could know? Do we outsource our thinking and simply accept what we’ve read or heard as the truth? Have we lost the ability to say “I don’t know”? In another Couch Conversations episode, Thane Marcus Ringler and his wife, Evan Ryan Ringler, ponder on these questions and dive deep into the idea of being informed—what it means now, what good it does, and how it can be bad. Going through the COVID-19 pandemic, they then talk about depression, which is undeniably more felt in this time of quarantining and social distancing. They discuss the ways social media has made us feel small and how we can take that back. Imparting practical advice to help us grow in these areas, Thane and Evan then end with the importance of open-mindedness, of listening to others in full awareness and humility.

Listen to the podcast here:

148: Couch Conversations With Evan Ryan Ringler: On “Being Informed,” Depression, And Open-Mindedness

This show is all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that takes living with intention in the tension. Life is filled with tensions that we get the chance to interact with daily. Thus, intentionality is the best way to do that. That’s what we believe and this is what we’re about. Thanks for being an Up and Comer, being a part of this community and movement. If you’ve enjoyed your time being a part of this community, we’d appreciate your support. An easy way to do that is by subscribing. If you listen on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play or wherever it is, you subscribe to the show to make sure to never miss an episode. Beyond that, if you wanted to leave us a rating and review, that’s such a helpful way. You can do that on iTunes or Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.

I’ll read a review that was left by RubyWoo87. It’s titled, Entering in with Curiosity, “This is what Thane does. He enters into each conversation with a sense of curiosity and generous listening, ready to engage his guests where they are as they are. The Up and Comers Show is proof all of us still have things to learn, no matter if we are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a waitress at a bar. It reminds us of the value in showing up, doing our best, being curious and learning what we can in every circumstance.” She gave us a five-star review. Thank you, RubyWoo, because that is what we’re trying to do here. Be curious and stay curious about where we’re at in life and where we’re going and what other people have learned from their experiences.

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This is another episode with my amazing wife. This series of episode will be the first of many with her. We’re entitling them Couch Conversations because that’s where we have them, right on our couch here in our home. These are going to be great times with my wife where we get to sit down and talk through what we’re been learning, what we’ve been processing as a couple individually and in life. If you enjoy the first one, you’re definitely going to enjoy this one. The first one was episode 142, go back and check that out. Evan is the best and I’m so grateful to be married to her and to be living life and processing life with her. This conversation revolves a lot around the idea of being informed. Is it good to be informed? What is helpful or hurtful about “being informed?” Is it actually possible?

This is a lot of the conversation we’ve been having in the last month or two with ourselves and with our community. It’s an important conversation to expand to all of you listening and to your communities as well. We also talk about depression and how with COVID, we felt more periods of that and getting out of bed can be hard sometimes when we feel like we have lack of purpose or identity. We also talk about what practical things we can do to grow in these areas, which focuses on an open-mindedness in conversations and in listening to others. I think you will really enjoy and benefit from this episode. I know I was stimulated and encouraged a lot by my wife. I’m excited to share this conversation with you. Sit back and relax and enjoy this couch conversation with my wife, Evan Ryan Ringler.

Evan Ryan Ringler, welcome back.

I’m glad to be here.

I think I’m going to have to make this a more regular appearance. It’s too much fun to get to talk with my wife. It’s the best. We are sitting with the door open at 7:50 AM. We had a nice morning flow. We walked to local café. I got a decaf latte and some brewed coffee. Maybe we start with that right there, the fact that we just had an early morning. That’s been a hard thing to do, especially in this quarantine time. It’s funny and we’ve noticed that’s a very common theme for most people.

Ranging actually from all of life, ages and demographics. I’ll speak for me personally. It has been a harder season to get out of bed and I’m such a type-A go get things done person. It’s been a little counterintuitive as far as counter to who I am at my core. In the last two weeks, I’ve been working on just setting times and saying, “For these five working days or Monday through Friday, I’m going to get up out of bed at X time.” I think my first week was I’m going to get out of bed before 7:30 AM and then last week was I’m going to get up out of bed before 7:00 AM and then this week we woke up at 5:30 AM.

Social media is a neutral substance that can be used for good or evil. Click To Tweet

We set the alarm for 5:00 AM, but out of bed at 5:30 AM. It’s interesting. It is a common theme that more people are facing right now. There’s a lot of factors involved. I’ve felt it in small doses as well. It’s not like, it’s only a female or only males. Everyone feels it in different ways. The loss of identity, lack of purpose or to the things at its core that we feel more in this time than others because we’re stripped away of typical roles, titles or relationships in daily life. That leads to this weird period where you wake up and you think, “What am I even doing? What do I need to even do now? I don’t even know what my purpose is or what my plan is.”

“When this will lift and I can get back to my rhythm.” I feel like we’ve been stripped of our hurry. Now more than ever, it’s like, “Why am I hurrying to get this done, to get to the next thing when I have ample time or when deadlines aren’t as pressing?” That was a tangible way I feel to combat that or try to get back to the rhythm that I want for my life. I love morning times.

It’s funny because what often is associated with this is feelings of depression, feelings of, “I feel down. I feel in the dumps,” and those are real. That affects all of us in different capacities in ways. It’s hard because sometimes that is debilitating and other times, we can fight through it and discerning which is hard to know.

Allowing grace in those moments, I think we in one sense could have grace for ourselves. What I’m trying to say is there’s joy in feeling depression because we can better understand the moments we aren’t feeling it. Not to minimize it at all because it is a real thing and a lot of people experience it to far greater degrees than I ever have. A little taste of it helped build our empathy, help us to better understand and not just dismiss it, which we’re quick to do with things we don’t understand.

We’re quick to prescribe. We’re quick to tell what to do versus just sit with like, Jobs’ friends. To their credit, they sat for seven days with him and that’s good word. We talked about that with James on an episode. Sitting with the grief, sorrow and sadness. Those are really important practices in America that we’re pretty bad at, with myself included in that, being an achiever. I think, we need more work in that regard. It’s a common thing. It’s a fun opportunity for us to say, “Interesting. What’s going on here? What is leading to this? What are other factors that affect it or influence it? What is good about it? What is bad about it? How can I show grace to myself?”

We can busy ourselves out of any feeling for some amount of time and now it’s almost forcing people, myself included to say, “What is going on internally?” I would like to say I try to do regular checks, but I feel COVID, it’s been a nice pause to say and evaluate what is going on and what rhythms I want to keep when things start to lift. We were talking on our walk back home about how we can be choosy about what we’d let back in and trying to safeguard our solitude and time alone to read or reflect. I think that’s a beautiful part of this time.

We’ve gotten so accustomed to it with it being prolonged now for quite a bit of time that we start taking this time for granted a lot more. When it first struck, a lot of us were excited, “We get extra space. We can slow down. We can do things like read more and write more and be present more,” and the tables have turned a little bit to where people are, myself included, getting more antsy and wanting to get back into things. We start taking this time for granted. It’s a cool reminder like you just said, of how can we not take this time for granted and appreciate it no matter how long it is and then be intentional with what we reincorporate. It has been fun to think about. I’m excited to protect the schedule more. Before COVID, I would say yes to way more things. That’s different too between being single and being married. That will be a new fun.

It’s not that being married is a drag and you start to say no.

It’s not a drag. It’s a different reality.

Saying yes is a beautiful rhythm too. I remember my aunt had a shift and said, “I’m always saying no to things. No, I don’t have time for this.” There’s a balance without anything of allowing things into your life and being open-handed.

I’m excited about that because we were talking about on the walk. We are like, “We are blessed by this time and space to have like a long honeymoon in a sense because it’s just been us and that’s been the sweetest.” I can see that if it wasn’t for this time, how busy we would be with getting plugged into new church, new community, developing new friends, exploring, trying in a restaurant, doing every hike and all the things, which are great, but it can become distracting too.

UAC 148 | Being Informed

Being Informed: Being informed is positive. We are expanding our frame of thinking that could help us engage in conversations with people, potentially leading to action.

 

It takes away from the beauty of those “mundane things.”

We had depth in our dating time in long distance because we were forced to. Now, we’re having depth in our marriage time because we’re being forced to in a different way, which is the coolest thing. One of the things we’ve been talking a lot about that we both thought it would be fun to talk about here is this idea of being informed. We’ve been talking a lot about this with each other and with our community. It’s been a couple of week long conversation and it is worth having a conversation on air and then hopefully further conversations with other people in other spaces and even on here too. Maybe we come at it first by this idea of what it means to be informed and why it feels so important.

I would start with in theory being informed is positive. We are expanding our frame of thinking where that could help us lead to engaging conversations with people. It could potentially lead to action. That would be the ultimate good from being informed and then we’re continuing to learn and being curious which are all beautiful things. That speaks to the essence but to define being informed, you could say it’s to be in the know.

This is how people often think about it. I was thinking about the history of it of what was it like to be informed many years ago. It probably meant you read the paper, you talk to your neighbors and you tried to maybe go to city meetings. You subscribed to the right journals and had conversations about what’s happening with the people in your daily life. That was many years ago, which isn’t that long of time and before that it was really localized.

It’s word of mouth. I feel that’s way back but that’s how stories were retold.

Within the last several years, it has compounded and amplified 100 times at least.

When did the iPhone come out?

Several years ago.

It was in 2006 to 2010 or somewhere in there.

The best people to converse with help you hear yourself better. Click To Tweet

The iPhone came out, smartphones came out, internet was accessible, not just on computers but on your phone and then it blew up. The information exploded.

One of the pastors that I listened to has said before, “Isn’t it the worst when a know-it-all has an iPhone with Google on it?” Because then in someone we can say, “I don’t know about this,” and they’re like, “I think I’ve heard something,” and they Google it. It’s so true and we do that, and how often do we reach for our phone.

According to The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, it was it 26,000 times a day.

It’s something in the twenties.

It’s a pretty relatively new phenomenon of having the ability to, “What we will consider be informed.”

Be readily informed with this person.

With that comes what we’re seeing now and what we’ve been talking about. Some dangerous results or outcomes that we aren’t even necessarily conscious of.

We can all fall victim to.

We all do fall. No one’s immune to this and we all have fallen into this and you will. The beautiful thing that our pastor said, Rob Brendel of Denver United was we need to stop outsourcing our thinking. That’s where the rubber meets the road for being informed. At least what I’ve seen for myself and for others as I’ve reflected on this, that is what the core of what’s happening is we’re outsourcing our thinking to where we don’t even have a thought process about these things. We get fed by something and then whatever we’re fed with, that’s the capital Truth because we’ve been fed it and there’s no other way.

UAC 148 | Being Informed

Being Informed: We tend to get angry around ideas that if someone were to come and challenge the way we think or believe, a lot of times, our first reaction is anger.

 

That can look like many different things in many different avenues. To me, when I think about sourcing my thinking, I think of repeating something I’ve been told in my depth of that topic is the sentence that I say to someone. If anyone were to say, “Tell me more about that,” which no one usually does because everyone wants to get out what they think, they want to know. I wouldn’t know what to say. I’d probably have to make something up or say, “That makes sense,” and try to rationalize what I said.

Isn’t it funny that we’ve lost the ability to say, “I don’t know?” It’s a phrase that has lost touch with our conversation.

One way I’ve tried to reincorporate that practice of not knowing is just saying it. I try to do it a lot of times with words. If I’m reading something, I’ll ask.

I’m very proud of my wife in this because I’ve learned a lot from her from this practice.

My grandpa taught me this a long time ago. He used to have a dictionary with him whenever he would read to look up words or think like, “There’s a better word for this word that I’m trying to say.” It makes communication clearer and it helps your thinking. Things have become clearer in my brain when I get clearer on words. I’ll ask, “What does this word mean?” “What do you mean by that?” I try to put on humility and say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or, “I’m not familiar with that. Can you say more?” That’s been a humbling practice but also, I learned a lot. I feel like I’m benefiting.

You ask me all the time what a word that you come across means. I’m like, “I know what that means,” and then I try to define them and I’m like, “I really don’t know what that means.” I think I do, but it’s an educated guess and I couldn’t define it. Now, I need to know. I get to learn alongside, which is the coolest thing and that means I probably need more humility.

With that, it could be because the original question was, “Why is it so hard for us to say, ‘I don’t know?’” I think there’s comfort in knowing. Ego is wrapped up in it. What other factors do you think it could lead to?

I think it’s identity. If we say we don’t know, then people think we don’t know anything. It’s like we jump to the tenth step on all these things. If I give one step away, then that means I’m giving 100 steps and that never is true. There’s a lot of self-ego and worth tied up in that and then we’re lazy. It’s a huge part of it. We default to the easier path of like, “I know that,” when we don’t. We’ll agree and we’ll move past it.

Also shame because that’s dismissing that person. We are like, “I don’t care to know what they are saying.”

Marriage is a never-ending quest of getting to know your partner. Click To Tweet

“It’s not worth my time.”

It’s saying, “I’m already deciding I don’t or won’t agree with whatever that person’s saying,” and not engaging.

Which is huge again, because that goes back to being informed and what that produces is ultimately closed-mindedness. It’s saying, “I’m not going to listen to what this person is saying because I’ve already determined what box they live in or operate out of, and as a result I can discard it.” That’s outsourcing our thinking. That’s saying, “My narrative is already made up,” “This narrative isn’t aligned so I’m going to discard it.”

That speaks to it being easy and comfortable. We talked to someone we love dearly who said, “They think they know you when they can put you in a box,” and that happens. Social media is a perfect example because you can scroll, “I know everything that’s going on in this person’s life. They’re probably really happy and they’re having their third kid.” “This person is sad and we need to pray for them.” That’s so shallow. I’ve been off of social media for a while for those reasons because I found myself getting in those tendencies of, “I know these things about these people. I never really check in on them.” With that, I think being able to put things or ideas in a box helps us feel in control.

I want to touch on that too. Here’s and interesting to think about social media. Before social media, which is only a few years ago, Facebook was earlier, but the widespread use of social media, before that, the people you stayed in touch with. First it was writing or in community, then it became texting and calling phones. With texting and calling, you could have a decent idea of what’s going on in someone’s life. When you’re seeing snippets of moments of their life and all the best, how can you have any idea what’s going on? Your idea of what’s going on is a projected image of reality. It’s not even reality itself. It leaves room for your own interpretation of it times infinity. What’s dangerous? It’s not all bad. Social media, I love the quote, “Every great cause begins as a movement, turns into a business and then degenerates into a racket.” That’s same as true with social media in a sense.

It was a great cause connecting your loved ones that you don’t get to see that much. It turns into a business. Now, we’re making money off it. There are profit schemes, ads, algorithms, followers, influencers, and then it turns into a racket. It’s a game. The dangerous thing is not recognizing that. You can put the right boundaries in place. You cannot be on it. There are lot of ways you can set it up to where it can still be helpful. If we’re not conscious about the ways it’s dangerous, then it’s going to cause harm, especially to others. When someone is following another person and they get this facade that they actually know what’s going on in their life, but they haven’t communicated within for years. They’re going to have a skewed perception of who this person is because they’re forming that off of what they see online versus the actual human interaction they have with them.

In social media, it’s a neutral substance. It’s like money. It’s like any neutral substance that can be used for good or for evil. That’s what is so beautiful about it is it is neutral. We get to decide what our part is and are we going to redeem it for good. I would also say that I’ve found something we like when we try to be informed. With the social media example, we get on there and I know this to be true for myself. We can get on and confirm our biases, “That person’s doing this.” Control them and keep them in boxes in our heads and then measure ourselves up, “I want to be more like that.”

Maybe, “I’m missing the mark with this person.” “I feel a little bit better than those guys.” It’s been proven again that ample amounts of time on social media can lead to depression and loneliness. I think that’s what it does. Even if we get on and get those hits of dopamine of, “I love that person. It’s so good to see them.” That’s genuine and that’s real and then you start to feel bad about yourself because your family doesn’t look like this or you don’t look like that. We get on and we have this certain narrative that’s running through our mind and then we cater information coming in to the said narrative.

UAC 148 | Being Informed

Being Informed: Curiosity lends itself to questions and vice versa. The more questions you ask, the more curious you are.

It takes away curiosity. What you hit on earlier is really huge because it stems from a desire for control and that ties directly into being informed. We want to be able to control not only our lives, but the situation, the circumstances surrounding it and have a grasp of other people so that we can control how they affect us. If I’m afraid of being hurt by someone, I’m going to control them so that I’m not hurt by them. If I’m intimidated by them, I’m going to control them so that I can come out on top.

I’m not going to let them in or see this side of me.

What’s funny about that is that we have zero control. The only thing we have control over is really our thoughts, interactions. That’s it. Even that is less control than we think we have.

We’ve been talking a lot about the monkey mind. Meaning how quickly our mind and brains can jump to things that aren’t helpful. It almost feels like not any fault of your own and how distracting that can be. That’s why time of meditation and mindfulness is so important to try to sit in quiet and just be. I am a class right now. I’ve been learning a lot of things. One of my teachers said and I love this, “We’re afraid to lose the control that we think that we have over the life that we think that we’re living.” It points to, if we can grasp this life and keep it in all of these nice neat little boxes, then I feel okay about life. When people say, “How’s life?” I say, “It’s really good,” because I know what’s going on. I throw anything at me. I’ve got it under control and as you said, none of us are in control.

It’s hard to let go. The core of it is letting go and practicing that daily. What’s cool is that’s the way God set it up in His world and design. It’s a humbling practice because we then have to admit and realize that we don’t have control. It’s also a grounding practice because we are back on the ground, the level ground with all of humanity. It’s a uniting practice because it’s helping us connect better to our fellow humans by saying, “None of us have control, you don’t, I don’t.” What we see as semblances of power. The things that have power here on earth, they really actually don’t have as much power as we give them. We just watched The Irishman, which is a pretty dark movie and long. What I thought poetic about it at the end was that these mafia men, they die like everyone else. They end up old and decrepit and barely able to walk just like everyone else. How much power they have then? Zero. It’s all gone.

I’m taking an online class through the Center of Action and Contemplation on St. Teresa of Avila who is a 16th century of mystic. It’s been a heavy journey and I been in the weeds a lot and it’s made me more aware than ever at our own mortality. Something that I’ve been learning and linking with that is how angry we can get around ideas. Meaning, if someone were to come and challenge the way I think or believe, a lot of times our first reaction is anger. I wonder, why are we so angry? I think this is prevalent with COVID and etc. These are really unique times. With that said, I see now more than ever, people angry about politics and the way people do things. They’re acting that way because they’re a conservative or they’re acting that way because they’re liberal.

It’s like, “Maybe they’re just acting that way because they believe that’s what’s best.” With that and us being mortal beings, it makes me really sad to see in myself how angry I get about certain topics or why don’t people think this? It’s helped me get into this process of, why am I angry? Am I even angry about that topic? I’m angry that because I’m scared? I don’t want to be challenged. I don’t want people to say, “No, you’re wrong.” With that, something that has been helpful to me is thinking of what conversations I like to be in. We heard a quote that, “The best people to be in conversation with help you to hear yourself better.” How beautiful that is when someone is sitting here with you saying, “I want to hear you.” They help clarify your own thoughts.

It’s Yahia Lababidi who said, “A good listener is one who helps us overhear ourselves.”

I think that this posture needs to be emulated. It needs to be copied. The point is if I can sit here and say, “Here’s what I’m thinking. I’m not sure, but this is what I know from experiential self-knowledge to be true. This isn’t what I know from prayer. This is what I know from humility.” Humility, self-experiential knowledge and prayer can be three hinges or ways to experience growth. With that, when someone hears me, I am much more willing to hear them. If we can hold that passion for other people, that’s the first step in that growing.

Do not be dismissive of others' experiences. Click To Tweet

When you think about conversations we have, when you’re done talking, someone immediately jumps to what they want to say, did they even hear you? We already subconsciously assume they didn’t. Whether or not we’re aware of it, we’re assuming, “They didn’t even listen to me because they’re saying what they want to say.”

Probably more subconsciously and then in the conscious level where like, “What’s my next point?”

How can I get my two cents in and it’s a downward spiral versus an upward spiral?

I just listened to this podcast. Homebrewed Christianity is what it’s called. The person talking was saying how hard it’s been for him to have conversation with his parents since he’s undergone growth and transformation. He said, “I noticed sitting there with my dad that he has a zero to negative 10% chance of changing my mind. There is no way he’s getting in there to change my mind.” Why would it be any different? Is that the point to gather all this information and then put your stake in the ground and be like, “I’m independent?” There’s no growth from that. There’s no curiosity in that.

One of the reasons is why did Jesus talk in parables? I think a big part of that is because debates never changed anyone’s mind. I don’t think anyone has changed their mind from a debate. If you think about social media conversations/arguments, big news channels and what their programs provide, these short snippet debates, nothing ever changes from that. You just entrench. If you’re going to debate with people, how did Jesus debate? He asked questions and he left it open. He said, “If you can’t answer me, I’m not going to answer you.” Jesus is paving the way for us of saying, “This is how you do it.” You don’t change people’s minds or hearts by a debate. You change it by life you live with questions posed. I love Rainer Maria Rilke. A poem I read said, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.” It does take patience. There ought to be things unsolved in your heart. Those questions are good. They need to be asked.

It’s the mystery. There are two things. One, I read in Mark 11, the Pharisees come to Jesus and they’re like, “Who gives you this authority?” He’s like, “Who John the Baptist authority?” They didn’t know what to say. If we say, “We’re going to make people mad if we say one thing,” and they didn’t say anything and Jesus is like, “I’m not going to tell you where my authority comes from.” The thing is we as humans would be so quick to be, “This is where my authority comes from and XYZ.” That was something that it made me think of and then you said the Rilke poem. Can you say that again? I think it will come back to me.

Be patient toward all those unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.”

I was talking with a dear friend who was saying how in marriage it’s a never-ending quest of getting to know your partner. The minute you wake up and say, “I’ve got Thane figured out,” that dismisses Thane and your partner. You’re not interested, you’re not curious and you’re not helping foster growth in the other.

It’s easy to fall into that. I’ve seen that with myself in you. I’m sure you’ve seen that with you in me that if we get annoyed by something or we see something play out, then we’re just like, “This is how it’s always going to be, this is the narrative, this is why, this is who they are.” All of that isn’t fair or true and we have to fight that on a daily level because we are human.

UAC 148 | Being Informed

Being Informed: Rest in knowing that God does have our best interest in mind and does love us.

Our collectively as human motives are not always ill-intended. In that example specifically, I think about, “I know Thane reacts this way sometimes. In these situations, I can do this to help.” That does lend itself to that narrative of, “I’ve got it under control. I know it happens here.”

The other quote I love was James Clear, the best newsletter around right now. He said, “Knowledge is a compound interest of curiosity.” It speaks again to the importance of questions. Curiosity lends itself to questions and vice-versa. The more questions you ask, the more curious you are. I want to go back to what you said about self-knowledge which is similar to experiential knowledge.

It’s specifically knowing for yourself.

To go to the realm of experiential knowledge in general, the other danger of this day is being informed society and culture is that, grandpas have both talked to this. You can be so knowledgeable with the information of anything today because there’s so much readily available that you can become a “knowledge expert” without any experience in that subject field or skill. It’s half-baked because you haven’t lived it, experienced it or flushed it out in real time by the actions of experience. I think that is a danger for all of us. None of us are immune to that of what this idea of knowledge and information without experience.

I would caution us to not be dismissive of others’ experience like, “They can’t know this because they’ve never experienced.” We don’t know their experience. We can’t judge that, but I do think that it is helpful and great.

Even back on what you were talking about too. I know you’ve got some more things that you’ve been thinking through. What you mentioned before with your journey through this idea of mysticism and how it’s led you to a better understanding of mortality, which can also show at times how angry we get. That mortality and the anger comes from being scared, which comes from being fear. That comes from a semblance of control or leads to a semblance of control again. Fear and control are tied together that we want to have control because we’re afraid. We’re fearful. The ultimate fear is death. That’s the thing that’s hanging over everyone’s head and all of it ties together.

That’s where even from a worldly standpoint, stoicism had such a resurgence because we need to accept the fact that we are mortal. We need accept the fact that we’re going to die and be okay with it. In that acceptance comes freedom because now we’re not living in fear. That’s of course what God brings through Christianity. Understanding that this semblance or want to be controlling comes from fear and that God is love. Perfect love casts out all fear. As followers of Jesus, we can’t run our lives around fear if we’re going to follow Jesus, especially in the church. When the church is built on a fear-based narrative, it’s going to lead towards guilt and control versus freedom and love.

It’s beautiful and necessary. For me, that’s a little overwhelming. I don’t know what happens when we die. Who does? The practical piece is, and what’s been helpful because it isn’t helpful to camp out in the mysticism camp or the fundamental Christianity camp. We have to have both open-handed curiosity of, “This is necessary and beautiful.” With that, Jesus does care about this life too. He created it. It’s beautiful. There are details in every part of the creation. I see this most went on hikes 14,000 feet up. People have never even come across. It’s not to say I’m an adventurer. I accidentally came off the trail and found this. There are beautiful flowers where some people will never lay their eyes on them, but they’re still there.

All of that to say, I think we can rest in this life is beautiful and necessary too. We can say, even though I don’t know what happens in death, I trust that. How much more God. I hope that we’re with everyone we love and we get to explore the creation tenfold and more, how much more God? My little finite brain can think about it in that extent. I rest in knowing that God does have our best interest in mind and loves us. We are created out of love and we are existing because of love. To tie in a little mysticism, James Finley, the teacher for the course has been talking about, “If the endless, infinite love of God who is loving you into existence, could stop loving into existence at any point.” I love being in that flow of like, I am being loved into existence and so are you, and so as everyone around me.

We are created out of love, and we exist because of love. Click To Tweet

We play a part in that. That ties another quote you sent me. Paul Tillich said, “The first duty of love is to listen.” By hearing someone, we’re loving them, seeing them and bringing them into existence because of that. The three core needs are to be seen, to be heard and connected.

I thought it might be helpful to think through other ways of, why we like to be “informed?” Partly, it is a routine. We come home, we turn on whichever news channel we get our news from and mindlessly listen or numb out. We could jump on social media and mindlessly scroll. There is a mindless component that we of just like numbing. It’s not having to do anything. It doesn’t feel like work. Another piece that I think is helpful is confirming our own biases, our narratives. I feel it’s detrimental to you and I’ve seen it in my own life because then I become close-minded. I become angry that people aren’t the way that I am and don’t see things the way I see things. I felt my eyes have been open to a posture of humility first and then just the posture of, “I don’t know,” and, “That’s why I’m letting you know,” and, “Here’s a little bit I know and how I’ve experienced Jesus in my life,” or, “How I’ve experienced these truths.”

It’s interesting how we truly do not see each other as humans in those moments. It’s where we’re emotionally invested in a stance, idea or place in the political, current events and in the religious views landscape. Whenever we put our self and put our stake in the ground in a place and someone else’s at a different place in that spectrum, we don’t view them as a fellow human being. We view them as an enemy and we view them as lesser than ourselves and that’s not what God wants. If we have God’s worldview and perspective, He sees every single human the same and it’s not putting one above the other or on a weighted scale. That’s the thing that I get most frustrated with, especially on a political landscape of news outlets and what “being informed” is the anger that comes from it divides humanity. That’s the worst outcome of it.

I learned that Jesus saw God and all that you saw. There were great examples used of He saw God in His mother and in a prostitute. The same good God, He saw in the prostitute and in His own mom. He saw God in his disciples and in His executioners. There’s one more, a flower and a bird and how different those two are and then a wedding and a funeral. To me, we can look at the least of these which I love how Paul is like, “If I can be a Christian, so can you,” and that’s such a beautiful posture to say, “I’m just doing the best I can here too.” Paul used to kill people, but all that he say, “I think we can look at the least of these in our eyes, which most times isn’t us. For most of us, we look at other people as lesser than ourselves or leaders as fallen evil people.” There is evil in the world too. My challenge would be that Jesus probably sees God too. That’s what were called to as Christians is to see that.

I think what you pointed out too with the ways we are informed and why, you hit the nail on the head when we numb out or mindless about it. If we’re going to see God in others, we have to be mindful and intentional about it. We can’t be mindless. If you’re mindless or if you numb out, you’re go towards comfort and safety and security.

Back to your own narratives, it’s mindless numbing.

Just because we’re saying this, it doesn’t mean we don’t fall into this. We do every day.

I feel that’s the only reason we can talk it, is that we know.

It’s the experience. We’ve done this and we still do this. Even when I’m telling myself, “Thane, enter this space or this conversation with a curiosity and an openness.” I feel that boiling up within me of this emotional investment in something against whatever, and then I revert or divert back to my old ways. It’s not like an overnight switch, but we can get better at it. That’s the beauty of growth is that we can get better even if we don’t feel we’re making much progress. The fact that we’re trying is progress.

UAC 148 | Being Informed

Being Informed: The three needs of any human being: to be seen, to be heard, and to be connected.

Another good quote I learned is, “Admitting means you’re admitted.” You’re in the club if you’re able to be like, “I don’t have it all figured out.” What’s helpful?

The first thing to say with all this, because when people hear close minded versus open-minded, they start getting fidgety like, “I don’t want to be open to whatever.” The quote that I always want to say is, “An open mind is not an empty one.” Just because you’re open-minded, it doesn’t mean you don’t have beliefs or convictions and things that you hold on to. It’s saying, “I can entertain other thoughts, ideas, perspectives, views and consider them. Not just dismiss them.” Because you’re open minded about something, it does not mean you forsake all that you think or know to be true. That’s not the point.

What’s been helpful for me is this process of unknowing. It doesn’t mean, “Everything I’ve learned up to this point is meaningless,” but I would just say holding that with open hands and saying, “This is what I think I know to be true. How has Jesus showed up to confirm that,” or, “Have I experienced that in my day to day life.” Being open to deconstruction and I think that’s a scary term. It’s basically blowing up boxes and turning your life upside down, which is uncomfortable and scary because it takes away your comfort of knowing. I would encourage you, if you do lean into that process of remembering how much more God, because He is a loving God and the reason we’re even here, looking at each other is because He’s loving us into existence. That has been such a restful place because it is scary. I don’t want to lose people I love and people I love that hurt me, etc. The process of unknowing and being curious could be a first step.

We can ping-pong this, because the practical thing for me has been not consuming. I don’t consume news hardly at all. For you, it was not consuming any social media for me. I don’t see any practical purpose in my life for that. A lot of people are you, “You need to be informed.” The point is, is that being informed? Are fifth hand accounts of information really being informed? That’s a helpful thing for us to realize is that what you see in the news is fourth or fifth hand. It’s not even firsthand or second hand. I want to know information first or second hand if possible. If not, I’ll eventually find out about it.

Do I need to hear it immediately? Does it have any impact on my life? Will I have any impact on it? Those are helpful questions to ask. For me right now, consuming news does not have an impact on me or I can’t have an impact on it in a helpful way. Because you enjoy staying up-to-date, I get to learn about my news from you, which I would rather learn about it from you than to read it myself. It’s not that I’m choosing ignorance, but I’m putting boundaries in place to help me not fill my mind with unhelpful things.

I would want you to clarify on that if you’d want to, that you’re not choosing ignorance. You’re still getting information. We know the ordinances in place around COVID in our city and in cities we go to, etc. We’re not naive. We don’t need to hear the same newsreel over and over.

In national news, it’s been so divisive. National news is such a wide, broad spectrum that what happens in a different state, we have zero control or impact over. It’s important to find sources that you trust and that can have helpful information, but even then, you still have to hold that with an open hand because each source or outlet you go to has some agenda, whether or not they’re aware of it. How can you even consume that with an open hand? Let’s say, this is their perspective on it and I’m going to evaluate it as fairly as I can.

It’s not practical to be, “Everyone’s not listening to the news.” People are still going to tune it, but maybe one practice of curiosity could be, “I’m going to log in to Fox News every morning because that’s my main source of news and that’s what I like.” After that, I’m in a log into CNN. It’s the same exact stories, different perspectives. I’m going to log into BBC as my last one. The same exact stories again, different perspective and outside of our country too. Trying to be curious about someone else’s perspective could be a helpful tool.

I mentioned this on our first podcast, I’m not sure. A toll that’s been helpful to me is a book by John Mark Comer. He was a pastor out of Portland, Oregon. He wrote this book called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry and there were so many practical tools that I took from it. It helped me take a couple steps back and how you get those average reports of your daily phone usage. Mine came up and said 2 hours and 30 minutes. There’s a lot of people that are more than that. There’s a lot of people that are less than that. For me, personally, that is fifteen hours a week, times that by four. That’s 60 hours a month, times that by twelve, that’s 7,200 hours. It’s a lot of phone usage a year. I don’t want my last to be defined by that. I don’t want this major chunk of my life to be, “I was responding to the messages.”

Ideas and concepts don't mean anything if you aren't actually going to do something. Click To Tweet

The practical tools were, he suggested eliminating email, social media and news from your phone. Deleting the apps, eliminating all of that from your phone. Essentially, turning your phone into a dumb phone. He even went as far as taking off the notifications on his text messages because he was like, “If someone really needs me, they’ll give me a call.” Having a set time each day, “I’m going to check my texts at 10:00 AM and I’m going to check them again at 4:00 PM.” If I need to jump on and say, “I was thinking about you.” Talk disparately. It’s having set times. My uncle is where I first heard the email thing of having to set times for email because then it’s not controlling your life.

You’re setting the boundaries of, “I’m going to get on respond to these things.” I’ve loved that. I turned the notifications off. Nothing pops up on my screen. I can still see the tag on my messages. To take it further, if and when you do want to check social media, news, email, you have set times for that. Maybe in the morning and then afternoon and doing computer things on your computer. Many people do the thing of, “I’m on my phone eight hours a day because I’ve worked on my phone.” “Are there ways to not?”

Those are great and very practical and actionable things. A lot of what we’ve talked about is Siri, but how can we take action on it? That’s the most important thing because talking about ideas and concepts is great. It doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t actually going to do something. That takes discipline and it’s hard, but it’s possible, attainable and helpful. If you’re listening to this right now, take action. Start with one thing. You don’t start with five, start with one. Whatever it was, it pricked your conscious today or brought some thought or conviction of like, “That would be great to do.” Take action on now.

I want to be that person. I don’t think any of us look in the mirror and say, “I want to be an angry person who stands on all these hills.” I’ll end with a quote that I learned that says, “Transformation takes honesty and humility.” I learned a new definition of humility, because it’s been a harder concept for me. I still do think of humility as being confident, but being humble and not being too confident, but stay humble. It’s like, “Is it helpful when the word is in the definition?”

The other side of that too is a lot of times in Christian circles, humility is self-deprecation, which is equally as bad.

It’s not helpful. I would equate my version and definition of humility in my experience of humility as self-deprecation. “I’m not good enough yet,” or, “I have to do these things and then I will earn this.” Transformation takes honesty and humility. The definition of humility that I’ve come to love is humility is total freedom from shame. Humility could look like, “I don’t know, but I know.” What I mean is I know these things to be true and I’ll give it from a faith context of, “I don’t know if it happened that way, but I know that it’s true.” For me personally, I’ve experienced Jesus personally to know that he is who he says he is and how much more God.

That’s a great place to bring this to a close. I hope it was thought-provoking that the idea of being informed may not be as helpful as we think it is or may not be what we actually believe it to be. The goal is to stop outsourcing our thinking. Take ownership back of our thought process, our minds to stay curious and to realize that we don’t know, but we do. We would all do well to embrace these mindsets and being an Up and Comer, we required to. It’s ongoing and this conversation will be too. There are more to come. Thanks so much for coming on.

Thank you too.

For all of you reading, we hope you have an up and coming week because we out.

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UAC 133 | Pulling Out The Stop

 

More than ever, what we all need in this complicated world is a reminder of the simple joys in life. We have become so inundated by the happenings around us that we forget to pull out the stop sign, breathe, and remind ourselves that we, too, must also live. In this fellowship episode, Thane Marcus Ringler reunites with co-founder and former co-host of this podcast, Adam Setser. Now building his life and career as a financial advisor in Valdosta, Georgia, Adam catches us up on the things he is going through in life and what he is learning. He shares to us his new obsession with camping, segueing into our need for grounding in the simple joys and mundane things of life. He also talks about the difference between living a balanced life and a passionate life. Expanding his career, Adam then talks about organ playing, his new writing endeavor, and a whole lot more. Join in on this comfortable and engaging conversation between old friends, and be reminded to find novelty and beauty in the simple things of creation.

Listen to the podcast here:

Fellowship Ft. Adam Setser: Pulling Out All The Stops: Camping, Writing, Organs, And More

This is a fellowship episode with one of my best friends, Adam Setser. He is a Cofounder of this show and was the Cohost for the first few years. He lives in Valdosta, Georgia with his wife, Faith, and is a financial advisor at the Kerrigan Group. He also writes and has had a long journey with health that he’s battled through many things with. He’s building his life and career in Valdosta, Georgia, in the deep South. What was fun about this show and when we used to cohost it together is that I live on the West Coast in Los Angeles. He lives in the South in Valdosta, Georgia, which provides two vastly different cultures, perspectives, worldviews. How we face things in this stage of life from those different lenses with a similar background and context, makes for fun and interesting conversations. Although he’s no longer the cohost, he’s still an important part of the Up And Comers community. It’s such a joy to have him back on for a fellowship episode, to dive into what he’s learning, what he’s going through in life and riff on all the fun things.

This episode talks a lot about camping, one of his new obsessions. We talk a lot about our need for grounding in the simple joys and the mundane things of life and returning to finding novelty and beauty in the simple things of creation. We talk a lot about living a balanced life versus a passionate life. We talk about his expansion in his career. We talk about inspiration and moments that bring passion. We talk about his organ playing and other musical abilities that he has. It’s a wide-ranging conversation. We talk about his new writing endeavors in the local newspaper, some fun conversations and ultimately a lot of interesting subjects I know you will enjoy. This is hopefully going to be a recurring thing with Adam. I look forward to more from him. For now, sit back, relax and enjoy this fun, engaging and wide-ranging conversation as ever with my friend, Adam Setser.

What’s up, Adam?

Since we last spoke, I went crazy so we have a lot to unpack.

We’ve got to unpack your craziness. One of the craziness was you were planning and may still be planning on starting a new podcast. It deals with something else that’s a newer purchase in your life or should I say elimination by addition?

What happened was we got super excited about camping because we bought a camper. We were first-time RV owners living our dream. We were like, “There are people out there who have podcasts that all they talk about is campers and YouTube people that do YouTube videos. We could do that too and make money talking about what we love.” About a year passed and all we kept talking about was, “We could do this. We could start a podcast.” Nothing ever happened. We sold the camper and downsized to a smaller camper. Our old camper was Bougie.

It was big and nice. We called her Isabelle, Issy for short because she is a diva. The new one is little, small and simple. We call him Thumper. It’s a very different vibe. I’m glad we didn’t start the show because everybody would be like, “What is he even doing? Do they even know who they are?” The answer is no. Now, I feel like we’ve got a little more traction. We could develop an audience with this thing. Come in 2021, we’ll probably be big hits on the social media scene with regard to audio and video of camper stuff.

Why has it been your obsession? It has been your obsession.

It defined 2019. That’s a hard question to answer. If anybody’s out there reading this and you have never been camping, let me tell you, you are missing out on one of the greatest joys of life. I don’t know how to quantify that except that camping is the experience that we’re all longing for when we lay down at night and we’re tired. We hear this voice in our head that says, “You did a lot and you did it good or you sucked and did it bad,” or whatever. That voice inside of us is the voice that wants to talk all the time but can’t. When you go camping, you have to make peace with it.

Not everybody does this like some campers are fools in a good way. I’m not trying to be judgmental. Some campers are super intentional. It’s almost a mindfulness camping. That’s a little bit of what I got into. It’s not to brag. I’m a pretty mindful guy. I love the adventure. I love seeing the country. All that bull aside, this is the true answer if you’re going to travel, there are only two ways to do it. There’s one travel to get where you’re going to experience a certain experience. The other form of travel would be to enjoy the journey and see the countryside.

Me and Faith, the reason we downgraded campers is that we realized we’re not diehard RV-ers. We’re not trying to jump in our car and strike out on road trips all the time. Sometimes we want to fly. Sometimes we want to travel by boat. They call it cruises. RV-ers don’t have any diversity. They got an $800 payment per month to pay for this RV, so they have to use it. What we realized is that we like diversity and when we go camping, this is what we want to be doing. The type of camping we want to do is when you want to see the actual face of the planet world, you need to go in a camper.

There’s no better way to do it than parking your camper on the side of Zion National Park in Utah and watching the sun go down and watching it come back up. You’re there chilling, eating, cooking and pooping in your poop shelter and doing your little thing like a dog, like an animal. God made you be like an animal. You get back to these basic senses and it’s there in that simplicity you find the freedom that you don’t get when you go to a big city. Your life is as much ruled by the city as it is you, your intentionality and your connection to the creator.

How has the practice of being an avid camper shaped for your perspective? How has that shifted your perspective or helped you be more balanced or even more healthy when you are at home?

It has given me so much clarity and passion to know my Creator. I feel like I understand the lordship of Christ. I understand the saviorship of Christ, but I rarely can understand Him truly as my Creator, my maker and what he’s making. I have reduced God down to a psychological figure who runs human interaction. When you get out there, one of the biggest things that it did to me is it shifted to say humanity is the actors. The creation itself is its own actor. The Bible references that. You’ve got mountains all over the Bible. Mount Sinai is one of them.

For example, I started reading the Bible differently and I realized that all of Christianity can be summed up into a pursuit of the mountain where you’re going to find God. However, there are only two mountains you can go to meet with God. There’s Mount Sinai and there’s Mount Calvary. I ripped this off from Tim Keller, but it made sense because I’m a camper now. I get this whole mountain thing. Mount Calvary is where you go to meet with God in the law and in his righteousness and holiness. You go there to please him, “Look how much I can do.” We do that so often, especially Baptist because we try to check a box and please him in our legality, a legal sense.

Jesus came to God himself and died to purchase our salvation on Mount Calvary. Anytime we run to Mount Sinai to see God, we act like Jesus never came. Those two locations speak volumes about what God did and who he is. My point is that one of the things it’s done is change my understanding of the world and God because He is as influential on locations, the beauty of those locations and the beauty of the world and the real world. He’s not psychological. It’s not like the world just set up and run and now he’s doing his thing. He’s more manifest in the creation, sometimes in humanity.

I love that Mount Sinai versus Mount Calvary. I almost feel like how Rohr even frames it in his book, Falling Upward, this first and second spiritual journey. The first journey is almost always us trying to do it on our own. That’s true of the people of Israel too. That was their journey and God brought them on that journey to show us that we can’t do it on our own. We had to come to the death of ourselves again and realize it’s not about that.

Camping has taught me as well that this was right from the beginning. What hooked me is, “I’m not going away from my life and escaping my life into an alternate reality, where I pay money for people to pick up my bags.” When you go to resorts or when I say vacation, immediately what comes to mind is I pay people to pick up my bags. It’s not refreshing. It’s an escape from reality. You come away from that going, “Why can’t people pick up my bags every day?” That’s not reality.

When you want to see the actual face of the planet world, you need to go in a camper. Click To Tweet

You’re not the center of the universe even though vacations are a momentary pause where you are the center. You can have whatever you would like.

What vacation makes you feel like you’re more energized to get back to the work you do and you’re more passionate about it. For me, that was camping because when I go camping, I’m still responsible for everything. I’ve got to set everything up. I’ve got to cook, bring the food and clean it. Me and Faith, we’re in this together and no one’s carrying our bags. I’ve got to empty the poop tank myself. Faith doesn’t do that. Nobody does that. I got to do that. This is real life, yet it is a vacation. You’re getting away from your mundane cycle of life. You’re breaking that cycle but you’re doing it in a way that is super earthy, real and refreshing in a God-honoring sense. I’m very passionate about it because people throw money on vacations all the time. I don’t know that what they’re wanting, they can have in their real life. That’s the thing.

Vacation sells you on the idea that you have to retire and live in a resort. Otherwise, you’re never going to be happy and do nothing. Live in a resort and let people carry your bags and you pay them money to carry your bags. In reality, what we’re all wanting, we can have in our daily life because what nature and camping teaches you is what you’re looking for is purpose. If you go camping without purpose, it sucks. You’re sitting there doing nothing. You end up drinking too much and chilling. You’re pointless and you’re not observing the creation. If you get out in the creation of a purpose and say, “We’re going to climb that mountain and when we get at the top, what we’re going to do is take a picture and we’re going to magnify holy smokes. Isn’t that going to be an awesome moment?”

We’re going to drive seven hours to set up and do it and all this stuff. Once you get there and you invest yourself in that, you come back refreshed. It teaches you, “I can find that same purpose in my life.” I’m sitting here at my desk at home looking out the window in my office at plants in my backyard that have flowers on them and people go drive hours to go see flowers. It’s right here. My best life is the life where I see the flowers and I am fulfilled by going, “God, you’re beautiful. Look at the flowers.” It’s not, “Someone isn’t carrying my bags. I’m tired of carrying my bags.” It makes no sense.

It’s like this concept of dopamine fasting. That’s the trendy thing to say, but it’s finding the beauty and the novelty in the things that are the most basic parts of our world that we’ve lost. I can’t remember who said it but there’s a quote about, “If the stars only came out once in a lifetime, everyone will be out watching them. Instead, everyone will be watching TV and no one sees them.” It’s so true. Go out and look at the stars one night and be blown away by it. That is redemptive beauty. That’s redemptive reality versus cheap entertainment that we all fall into. It’s not to say that all of that is bad, it’s just saying that if we can’t see the beauty in the things that are richer and more fulfilling, then we’re missing out a lot in life.

What I realized is when we bought the big camper, we did it because we were new to it and everybody told us we had to. In reality, after about a year, we were like, “This is getting in the way. It’s like I bought a super nice camper because I was told there was going to be a guy that pops out and carries my bags and he doesn’t. It’s still a camper. It’s like you’re buying the resort on wheels that you can tow behind you. When it gets too cold outside, you go inside and you can sit in a heated recliner or you can sit in the dinette or you can lay in a bed. You got eight options of where you can go and you have unlimited hot water. There’s all this stuff and you’re like, “I’m towing my home around behind me.” After the novelty runs out, you’re like, “I’m towing all the crap behind me that I was trying to get away from.” I still have this mindset of I need to be comfortable all the time.

Once we got through that, we realized here we are towing this 8,000-pound camper behind us everywhere we go and setting it up 30 feet, all this rigamarole so we can spend all our time outside and go back inside to sleep. What we did is we went from a 30-foot, 8,000 pounds trailer to an 11-foot 1,500-pound trailer, which is a bed on wheels with an outdoor kitchen, outdoor bathroom, everything is outdoor. If you watch Lord of the Rings, the elves in Rivendell did not build these huge mansions with glass everywhere to look through. They lived outside and there were leaves blowing through their bedroom because their bedroom was open. It was beautiful outside, it’s heaven, it’s elves. I’m like, “What are we doing? We need to get outside.” I would be in the camper and look out the window and go, “I bet it’s cool out there.” I’m like, “I came out here to be outside.”

Have you guys dipped in the hammock game at all?

We do have two hammocks we carry with us. We’ll set them up or we’ll go hike to a destination and set them up. I love it. I’m very much spend sleeping on it.

UAC 133 | Pulling Out The Stop

 

It’s something I’ve been getting into with Evan quite a bit. It’s sweet. There’s something to it. Speaking of camping too, for people that may now be interested in camping or whatever, what are the common mistakes that most people make?

Buying too much gear. People have different errors. My brother never got into it because when he got into it, he was so excited because it was the one place he could go and chill and not have to do anything. When at home, everything follows him. It taught him the value of chilling. You could go for three days and have zero agenda the entire time. That’s good because you’re living in the present and you’re serendipitously moving from thing to thing, which is super rare for Southern people to do. That was good for him.

It hits everybody differently. For me, what people end up mistaking getting into camping is on a spectrum of equipment. You either buy crap equipment because you’re too cheap like my dad and you get wet. You ruin your whole camping experience because you’re wet, it’s rainy and you’re digging a hole to poop in. A Porta Potty is $50. Buy the Porta-Potty, it’s way better. There are certain things. There’s a fine line between not enough gear and too much gear. I always would rather start with less and add as you go. Don’t be afraid of buying decent stuff. That’s one of the biggest things.

That’s good in life too. You can always add on more but quality goes a long way.

The other thing is it taught me what it means to be passionate about something. I don’t know why, but I’ve been passionate about things my whole life. This is nothing new, but it was the first thing I’ve ever gotten into as an adult that went from zero to hero. I realized I had cared nothing about camping until I got started researching it and I watched the flow. I was like, “What does it look like for a human to get super passionate about something?” What it looks like is it captures your daydreams. You bring it up in conversation to people all the time. You watch YouTube videos all the time.

I’m always on YouTube watching this next camping video, where I’m like, “What gear does he have? Where did he go? How did he handle it? What did he do this time? What did it do for poop? Here are all these things.” I realized that when you look at everything else in your life that you say you’re passionate about, odds are it’s grown stale. What does it mean to get a new life? I can talk about that spiritually but for me, what it meant was opening myself up to do things in a spiritual sense that I’d never thought that I would for a spiritual reason and letting that reignite my flame for God in a way that rocked me. If we can get into that, I’ll launch. I’m just waiting for you to go ahead.

I want you to dive into that, but I want to push pause on that because I’ll follow up. You’ve always been passionate about things. I’ve known you to be passionate about some things. As a person, you tend to gravitate towards a fixture of that passion, obsessed about it and deep dive into it. What would you say is your obsession? Is it still camping or is there a new target for that focus or that passion? I know camping has been the last year, but I’m curious that there’s something new since we last talked.

I’m developing a deep passion for what it looks like to run a deeply passionate balanced life. I write in the newspaper and do that every week. It’s been rewarding and fun. I meet with clients. Our business is growing at a level that is inorganic. It’s starting to snowball. I’ve got inorganic opportunities. That’s rewarding and awesome, family and future kids. What it means to be alive is you tolerate everything and you have a side passion that’s super exciting. People typically think that’s how it should. You work for an income so you can have an income. You get married so you can have kids or seek companionship.

Here are all these task-oriented things and along the side here is football. That’s what you’re excited about. If you’re not as excited about your wife as you are football, you got something wrong. I realize it’s the same thing for your work. It’s the same thing for everything. Some people aren’t blessed to have work they love. I get that and that’s the curse. I’m sorry that you labor with those weeds like Adam did tirelessly. Some people get to work in a way that is redemptive. They feel it, it’s a flow and it carries them. It’s so exciting. Some careers you can’t do it with, that means you probably need to change your career but most you can. That’s what I mean. You got YouTube people who get all excited about these things. This is the thought. It all comes down to this.

You have to help people come to their conclusion and you can't by making a statement. Click To Tweet

Imagine if I spent every second, every minute, every hour or every interval of my life as deeply invested at that moment in a passionate way as I am about campers right now or about organ right now, or whatever it is that’s got my fancy. I realized that what it means to be a mature adult is that you have the ability to run all of that at once and imagine what you can accomplish if you give yourself to those things, not just commit, follow through with commitments, and finished tasks. You end up Google searching stuff all the time about your job, your marriage, your camping hobby, your shooting hobby and your traveling hobby or whatever it is. You end up with all your life talks together in this way that is movement.

What you’re speaking to as well is in adulthood, it’s a journey towards full integration of saying, “This isn’t separate boxes that are a part of my life. They’re all my life.” It’s full integration. That’s what also God calls us to is he doesn’t want to compartmentalize your morning devotion time or your Sunday time at church. It’s full integration into everything. That is the journey from adolescence into adulthood and also returning to that child-like wonder and awe that we all should still long to have. It’s that adult version that’s still integrating that into the life that we do know. It’s a pretty beautiful journey. It’s also extremely hard.

The long answer would be I’m equally as excited about writing as I am about campers, my work, my wife, and the Lord, He’s all over that. The organ is thrown in there.

We’re going to get to the organ but first, let’s get to the writing because that’s a newer addition. That column came out of nowhere. Tell me about writing in the column of the newspaper. Was that something that you always wanted to do? Have you ever imagined yourself writing in the local newspaper? What has been the learnings from this first season of doing that?

I don’t think I ever imagined myself doing much of anything that I’m doing right now on a daily basis. I also joined Rotary Club and I’m joining Toastmasters, which is a speaking club. I’m in two civic clubs now. Toastmasters is the craziest of things that I’m like, “Why would I ever do that?” You get together and do public speaking and public shame yourself with this group of people and you get no money for it. You pay money to do this. There are dividends but it’s another story. Writing has always been a passion, but I never imagined myself writing for the paper.

It wasn’t prestigious but at the same time, I always did love the physical paper. I always was romantic about it. One day I want to write for a paper or anything like Valdosta Daily Times would want me or that I have anything offered them or that it was a big deal. What happened is I almost died about a few months ago. There were some things that happened at work that shook me awake. It wasn’t anything dramatic. I realized that I’m bored. I was like, “I can’t be bored so I’ve got to find a different career.” I almost was like, “Maybe I should change careers.” I realized, which is why I have anything to say at all valuable is because I’ve been through this where you’re like, “I’m doing the same thing over and over. What’s the point? There is meaning here, but it’s not exciting and I’m dying.”

What do I need to do now? I had two theories. One, I shop around. Two, I deepen my experience, so I did both. I can tell you shopping around was depressing because all work is depressing if you shop around like that. The only meaning you found in work is once you get in there and uncover it. It’s very rare that you shop for jobs and you’re like, “Right from the get-go, this is where all the redemption is. This is where God is. This is how I’m going to be fulfilled. This is all the meaning. This is all my talents match up.” College kids drive me crazy with all their shopping and career planning. I’m like, “You have no idea what that career is even about. Go into the general direction, don’t overthink it and in ten years you’ll change because you’ll finally figure out who you are. That’s okay.”

You’ll then rinse and repeat and do it again.

I realize how blessed I was to end up where I am that has so much ceiling for growth. I had that conversation with my partners at work and I said, “I can’t check the box and do the work. I need to accept this as a mission, which means my purpose statement is changing from Adam exists in a work way to help people be financially free or promote their financial flourishing or whatever. Adam exists to promote the financial flourishing of the entire community of which his personal one-on-one clients are the groundwork.”

UAC 133 | Pulling Out The Stop

Pulling Out The Stop: There are only two ways to travel: one is to get to a certain experience and the other is to enjoy the journey and see the countryside.

 

My point is my mission changed to be bigger than myself, bigger than my people and bigger than my revenue. That captured me at a level that I said, “Put revenue aside, what would be super fulfilling? If that’s what satisfies me, how do I do that?” I realized that means I need to be more vocal than I’m being. I said, “Who is going to promote the financial flourishing of the community, the mayor? He doesn’t have time. Nobody’s got time. Nobody cares. Who cares and who gets paid to do that? I’m like, “The financial professional does.” It’s my job not to get clients or to persuade people to be my client or whatever. That’s not my job.

My job is to get paid to stand in the gap and say the things that no one is saying about finance and promote that to finance it, to speak about it and all this stuff. If I give myself to that, that’s a mission that people will join in with. It’s not about them anymore. It’s about us as a community. It’s bigger. I realized that writing is a great way to do that. Along with that, I read some books that were very important like one called Power by Andy Crouch and one called To Change the World by James Davison Hunter. He references Crouch and has a different take. It’s super helpful to say, “If you’re out to change the world and if my mission is to change the world to promote the flourishing of it in a financial way, particularly I need to go to the power centers.”

I can’t start from ground zero and go, “I’m going to start a blog and it’s going to change the world.” If you’re a Christian and you want to influence the world with truth, you can start your own little blog or you can work your fanny off trying to earn your stripes to get into The New York Times. There’s something different about The New York Times versus your blog. I realized that The Valdosta Daily Times is my New York Times. When I realized that, I marched up there. I wanted to see the editor. I got my way into his office for 5 minutes and 20 minutes later he said, “You can write whatever you want.” It was that clear. I don’t have any contact. I don’t have any agenda except to say, “I’m telling you this is my mission. This is why I’m here.” He felt the passion. That’s been a few months ago.

There are many things that were awesome in that especially moving from individual to the community. You do have to start on the individual level. Can I create or change individuals in this way and shift into a larger form once that’s a proven reality that you can embrace? The mission does change. I want to hear about in those few months of writing at the column, what did you expect coming in and what has changed in your perspective about it or how has it surprised you?

I expected it to be super businessy. I’m in the business section and I pitched for the business section. What I’ve found is I’ve gotten more encouragement and it’s trended this way to become way more holistic. If I were to name the column, I would have started by naming it, financial planning or something stupid, something very financially. I was trying to keep my nose clean and do a good job. I realized that people don’t care about that. People don’t need you to fit the box. They want to be interested. There are two other columnists that do columns every week.

There are three of us in the business section and the other two have their own shtick. Every time you read it, you know what you’re getting is consistent, which is great but no one reads it anymore. No one cares. Here’s mine where every week it’s me and I’m genuinely pushing the envelope of what I know. Every week, I learn something new. It’s fresh and it’s me. It’s business but it’s also life. It’s a philosophy and it all connects. Here I am trying to break the mold, but I can do that in a small town because they don’t want anybody banging on their door.

I can’t tell, “Be the same way as Wall Street Journal.” They’d probably kick me out by now because I did not follow through with my proposal. That’s the been the surprising thing is how encouraging they’ve been and everyone else to say, “You’re right, business is everything.” Right from your face perspective, right about what you think about business from God’s perspective and other stuff like that. The last column I wrote about was taking a business concept called the FIRE Movement, which is Financial Independence Retire Early. You can YouTube FIRE Movement. There’s a bunch of young Millennials on there talking about how they retired at 35 and they’re living in a trailer or whatever.

They made it happen and they saved over half their income for ten years and ate peanuts. They retired and they live in a trailer. I responded to that saying, “What about that small voice in your head that says, ‘You’re doing good, son?’” At the end of the day, all you’ve done is sit there because you were financially able to “retire.” What’s the point? Retirement is not biblical. Even more than that, early retirement is even less biblical. We’re called to work and work hard. If we’re not happy with how much we’ve accomplished, then go do more. At some point, you have to make peace with your maker and when you do, you work out of joy, but you won’t go sit down and chill. He made you do something. It’s a business article, but it’s not really.

Usefulness too is an important means of fulfillment in life. What you’re doing in that FIRE Movement, I haven’t heard about it before, that sounds like you’re dangling a carrot in front of people saying this is what you want. Anytime that happens, we can safely be assured that’s not what’s best for us.

Clarity is not necessarily going to win the day. It's going to be clarity with a bit of ambiguity that draws people into thinking. Click To Tweet

That article challenges the entire American conception of retirement in general. It could go a lot deeper. Here’s one thing I have learned that’s done well for me. Instead of preaching some truth, present the details and present the flaws as well as the perception of positives. If you’re going to preach, ask questions and give maybes. It’s super powerful to leave it open-ended and ask your audience to think for themselves. I rarely ever say, “It’s wrong. This is stupid because of this.” That article ended with the statement, “If you accept the FIRE principles, when you lay down to bed at night, the voice that tells you, ‘You did good,’ will be your own.”

My point is it won’t be God’s. You have heard His, but then it won’t be. You’ll be telling yourself a lie. That certainly is more preachy than I normally get, but it’s convincing and roundabout. That’s something I’ve learned in communication. You have to help people come to their conclusion and you can’t by making a statement. Clarity is not necessarily going to win the day. It’s going to be clarity with a bit of ambiguity that draws them into thinking. That is the art of writing. If you can say, “Here’s a theme” and straight through the middle of that theme, “Here’s the thesis,” like an arrow. If you give the tip of that arrow ambiguity, you’ve done your job.

The curiosity takes over on the person that receives it and the job’s done for you. It’s even better because it’s them doing it, not you. That’s where the power comes.

If I were to look back from where I started, where I am now, my articles have changed so much. My voice is starting to appear. I’m more personal. I couldn’t do that to start with. There is a natural progression where I feel like I’m now crawling. One day when I’m 50 and I’ve done this for 25 years-ish, I’ll finally be able to write some good stuff.

It’s hard to do but recognizable when you read it. There’s a book that has seem to lead, Antifragile. I’ve been in the middle of that for a while because it’s a long book. It’s like seven books in one. His style is one of my favorites because it’s so him. There’s no other writer that is the same as his style. It’s very conversational. It’s very nonchalant but it’s also very deep and in the weeds. It’s all this blended into one. He’s also incorporating his unique worldview in a way that’s refreshing because you can tell that he doesn’t care about any preconceptions about how you should write. He’s going to write how he wants to write in his voice and he does it well.

It is refreshing to have that. I love what you brought up about being you, but learning something new, especially for this genre of Up And Comers. A lot of times, we’re thinking about starting new projects or trying to take a passion for more of a career, whatever it may be. If we can remember that, strive to be you. Don’t try to pretend to be something that you’re not. Do it for the sake of learning for yourself, not for the sake of giving other people something. Make whatever you do worth it. That’s such a helpful foundation to start anything from like we started this podcast from. It’s like, “We enjoy these conversations, let’s record them and share them because they’re helpful for us. Maybe they’ll be helpful for someone else.” That’s where we started. I thought that’s a beautiful place to begin for anyone. We need to get back to Ford versus Ferrari.

Did you see that movie, Ford versus Ferrari?

I need to. I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s been amazing.

It was my favorite movie of 2019. I’m not a big movie buff but I love to go to movies with my wife. 2019 was the first year that I had complete flexibility at work to produce. That sounds awesome and everything, but it comes with a lot of pressure. It was the first year I’d ever gone to a movie during work hours. Here I am in a suit and I go see Ford versus Ferrari at 2:00 on Tuesday afternoon. I was so overwhelmed and I’d caught up essentially, but it was like I need to nap and watch a movie. I went in there thinking, “Okay, cool.” The next thing you know, that movie is my favorite. I started crying. It was profound.

UAC 133 | Pulling Out The Stop

Pulling Out The Stop: If you’re going to preach, ask questions and give maybes. It’s super powerful to leave it open-ended and ask your audience to think for themselves.

 

The reason is because it touched me somewhere down deep about this idea of racing and what it means to race and giving it your all. When I see a scene like in Ford versus Ferrari, it’s essentially about the story where Ford won their first Le Mans. There’s a scene where it’s late. It’s a 24-hour race. He’s exhausted. He’s pushing through his grind. He’s driving the perfect lap. You see that perfection and that overcoming, and it brought me tears. I was on the edge of my seat. I’m like, “Why am I this way?” I’m looking around me and the eight people that were in there were not moved at all.

Later, I saw it with my wife and I was watching her a little bit. She’s not moved at all. It’s cool. It’s racing, but there’s something in me. I was willing to admit what if I’m experiencing something that’s a trigger from my past that I’m the only one that can experience. It’s not true. If I were to say that, it freed me to say what undone stuffed I have down deep in my psyche that is responding to this. That was the first time I’ve had that deep inter thought about myself in a while. What it led me to see is that I’m most alive when I’m racing. There’s something about racing that God has geared me to love. I spent years of my high school and college life training to race. I know all about it and lots of tactics.

I obsessed about it, but it wasn’t just an obsession. It’s something deep down in me about when Paul in the New Testament uses the language of the Christian life being a race and running as if to win. I came away from that realizing I have been maimed. I’ve been limited by my illness but God has still called me to be a racer. I was crying because I realized I’d never get away from that. I always thought he’d taken away from me giving a Lyme disease. If you don’t know my story, go back to the first episode and give me grace. I’ve come a long way since then, but I still struggle with my health. I still struggle with limits. Limitations to me are limitations.

I wrote an article about this issue. It’s essentially about two men and how they handled limitations. What I’m not telling you in that article is that I ripped it off from a Jordan Peterson YouTube video where he says, “Choose your D-sacrifice.” His point is you don’t get the option of not sacrificing. If you’re a human and you are called to sacrifice, the best option you have is choose it because whatever you’re given and your limitation, your sacrifice, it’s been given to you and there’s nothing you can do to reverse that. If you don’t choose it, you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to get away from something you can’t get away from.

If you choose it and in return, you embrace it, what that limitation is it’s coming up to you. It’s grabbing you around the neck. It’s trying to choke you out and you have to hug it. If you hug it and you make peace with it, there’s no limit to what you can’t do. One guy in that example was the first blind guy to ever climb Mount Everest. He had this epiphany. “I’m blind. What am I going to do about it? I’m going to sit here or I’m going to hug my blindness, accept it. It’s dead to me. What if I’m not blind? What do I do now? I climb Mount Everest.” He did. He kayaked the whole Grand Canyon. He did the hardest rapids ever on a kayak blind. He did all this crazy stuff. It’s taught him more than if he had his eyes. It’s been better for him than if he has eyes.

There is one quote he talked about in his story. I saw him at a conference that blew my mind. His name is Erik Weihenmayer. He was talking about climbing and kayaking. They were climbing Everest and there were near the peak on this ledge that’s about a foot wide and you have to crawl or barely make it up this ledge. At that point, the sun was blotted out by a cloud. It was late at night anyway. They had zero light. The moon was blotted out. It was dark as pitch. Everybody started freaking out about how dark it was. He chuckled to himself because he was like, “Now you know what it’s like. I’m fine. Let’s keep going.” He led. He started taking the lead because he’s like, “I know this.”

Back to racing and giving it your all, which I want to also interject quickly. My roommate had on the NFL mic up version of the Super Bowl that’s dramatized. They had music to it. They make a story out of it and you hear the players and their conversations throughout the Super Bowl. The Chiefs is getting a win. I had piqued my interest a little bit more in this. I started watching it. I was fired up. It was like 7:30 or 8:00 PM. I’m like ready to go to war. It was the same thing with me. It’s like something about that gladiator-type competition of going towards with your brothers and against all odds. I remember there’s a scene where Tyrann Mathieu, who’s crazy. He has a screw loose.

They’re down ten. It’s the fourth quarter and you see him on the sideline and he’s been pissed. He’s been upset because they’re losing and they’re not playing well. He starts getting up and he goes, “I love this. This is what I love.” He starts going on the sideline saying that for ten minutes. They ended up making the most outrageous comeback and winning. Something about that also is the same experience for me of that passion, that igniting in my soul. Hearing you talk about that, I want to sit with that myself and see, “What is that? What’s underneath that?” It hasn’t gone away with golf going away. That’s a powerful process that I’m excited to go through.

It’s hard for people to transition from what they know to be a life-giving center in their past to what could be now. I’m never going to race the bike again, but that doesn’t mean I can’t experience that. For me, with my health, I was told that I shouldn’t experience that because when I do, my body is over-driven and that’s true. I’ve experienced that. There is a line there where it’s like, “Yes, but does that mean I should shut it off forever?” There are chapters of your life. This chapter is finally where I can start pushing it a little bit wiser. When I mean push it, all I mean is focus more instead of going to be out a lot. I don’t mean exercising. I still can’t do that.

Only from God does vision and faith come. Click To Tweet

That led me to the realization that I am called to be a young man. I give it my all and push hard. Just because there are 50-year-olds around here who don’t, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. I’m not 50. God has called me to soar on wings like eagles, like Isaiah. There will come a day where I run and don’t go weary. I’ll walk and not faint. Finally, I do faint because life’s over. However, this is not that day. This is the day where I soar my wings like eagles. It’s okay. What can I accomplish if I give myself to something? That was the thought and as part of that, I took a concert on the piano where someone asked me to play and I said, “Yes.” I hadn’t played a concert in several years.

I played a concert for the widows and widowers at our church, typically an older group. It was 75 people and I played 4 or 5 classical pieces, but I was almost in tears the entire time. Tears were streaming down my face as I was playing because I was so connected to the purpose of it. It came from this thought. Out of that was so much beauty and glory of God. The next thing you know, opportunity opens up for me to play on a regular basis. What happens is I watched the movie, I’m like, “I’m ready to start racing again.” I think about my church experience and I’m like, “I’m here, but what would it be like to race for God, at church even?” That means to perform.

I’m like, “Here we go. What am I supposed to perform in?” Our organist quits five days before our candlelight service and they got nobody to do it. It’s Christmas Eve, candlelight service and there’s no organ. My pastor calls me up on conference call with our music minister and he goes, “Adam, Mark is here with me on the phone. Our organist quit. We’re wondering if you could step in and fill in?” What are you going to say? It’s five days away. Our pastor is calling me. It’s rigged. This is church life. I was like, “This is God.” I said, “Yes, but I don’t know how to play the organ. How do you play the organ?” The organist came and showed me a few things, showed me how to work the organ, which was huge. There are lots of knobs, buttons and pulls and such. Our church was built in 1899 and it’s got an old organ in there from probably the ‘90s. The pipes, who knows how old they are, but this is a for-real legit pipe organ with lots of stops. You know the phrase, “Pull out all the stops,” that’s an organ playing. You pulled out all the stops and all the pipes are blowing. All these are manual organs.

I get up there and I’m like, “What do all these things mean?” There are presets, thank God. I pushed presets and loaded them to where I could go from quiet to the loud with just buttons, which is easy. I don’t know how to work the feet. That service was a disaster. It was fine, but I didn’t play any feet. I was super simple in the hands and when I tried to use a foot and it’d be like lagging on my hands at that point. The last note of Silent Night where all the lights go out and everybody holds up their candle and I’m playing and everybody’s singing.

I was supposed to go acapella so I can drop out. I’m like, “Sweet.” I start in on the last verse. About that time, I realized it’s acapella because I don’t hear the piano playing. I stop. The organ is out because I forgot and everybody continues. I’m sitting back like, “I ruined Christmas.” About halfway through the chorus, the music minister looks back at me and waves his arm up like “Come back in.” He comes back in, so I’m supposed to come back in. I punch the button because I turned it off, push a button, turn it on, find a place and come back in immediately.

I’m freaking out and I get the last note and I’m like, “Watch this.” I’m about to play the bass note with my foot. I overextend myself and my focus, I hit the foot pedal and I missed the hand a little bit, but it was by one note. I found the right note immediately because I knew it went wrong, but it sounds like a jazz note. That has begun my organ playing. The next Sunday I showed up to fill in, “I’m here to play the hands, nothing else. You’ve got to figure this crap out because I’m not an organist.” On the back of the bulletin is all the stuff that’s listed and I’m always there as a collegiate minister. I was on there as Adam Setser, collegiate minister/organist. It was my second day on the job and now I’m an organist. I don’t know how to play this thing and I’m a complete fraud and no one knows it.

Ever since then, I’ve played with the stipulation I have one week off because I need to go travel with the camper. I didn’t want to play the choir parts, the choir songs because they’re harder, but now I’m doing it anyway and I’m doing the prelude. I’m starting the service with the organ on the prelude. I’m not playing Bach and stuff. We’d go to the hymns and the hymns, I’m starting to play big regal stuff, not like stuff. It’s like the intro is regal. I modulate up to different keys. It’s regal. I got alternate harmonics and it’s like marching down as you go. I also play the organ wide open as much as I can. This is something I’m passionate about now. I go on YouTube and watch pipe organists. I never would have thought. Who would have thought?

It all comes down to you saying yes at the end of the day. There was God opening a door and you said yes. What’s cool about that whole story is the fact that God used a movie to ignite the flame in your heart and for you to ask the question, what does it mean? What can I accomplish or what does it mean to race for the Lord at church? In that same time period, this organist quit and they ask you, it’s like this is so divine. When we pause and look for it or be aware of it, these moments are present all of our lives. The problem is we’re not looking for them. We don’t have eyes open, ears open. We don’t see or hear it happened because we’re not aware. It’s almost like how we can become more aware of that still small voice and to the inner workings of our lives so we can say yes to an opportunity like that when it comes because of the fruit that will come inwardly for us in that experience.

What it means to have eyes and ears is it means you have senses. Just because you hear and see, doesn’t mean you have a sensibility for what you’re seeing or hearing. It’s a mental thing. It’s going back to the old school 19th-century and before understanding of vision. You have to have vision to be able to see and hear. What vision means is an interior ability to see what you don’t see otherwise. It’s interior. It’s not exterior. It’s like you have to work on this thing. I don’t have an easy explanation, but people typically miss stuff because they don’t know what they’re looking for. God is right in front of you, whatever God’s pointing you to and yet, you lack vision. You lack vision because you don’t have any faith because you’re not pursuing God. Only from God does vision and faith come. I know a lot of people who are stuck in the doldrums of their life. There are cues all around them of answers. There are 1,000 different ways they could go, but they don’t seem to see any of it because they don’t have any vision.

It’s similar to hearing and listening. When you listen to something, it’s different than when you hear what’s going on. You can be listening to music but not hear anything. You can be listening to it, but maybe my mind is focusing on writing something, so I’m not hearing the words that are being said. It’s similar to if I’m working in a cafe or something like that. We’ve all had this experience. You’re there. You’re focused on something, but then this couple next to you or this person next to you has a conversation and you hear something they say and it piques your interest. All of a sudden you can hear what they’re saying. You’re paying attention to it. You could have been listening to it, but now you’re hearing it.

The same is true in a conversation. This conversation with you, if we weren’t as focused and weren’t paying as much attention, you may have said something that had an underlying meaning that I completely missed because I wouldn’t be hearing. Every single day we have opportunities with every interaction to truly hear someone, to truly see someone and not just listen to what’s being said, so you can get onto what you want to say. These simple things like, how can we hear each other better? How can we see someone and meet their needs? Maybe it’s opening a door for someone. That’s what it means to love each other well. It’s a simple human need that we all have. It’s been like a resounding theme for me that I don’t know how much progress I’ve made, but I want to keep focusing on it because it is crucial. Vision plays a big part in that. Vision is the same thing with the eyesight as hearing and listening is in a lot of ways. We pulled out all the stops on this one. Give us your closing thoughts.

There’s one lesson that I learned I did not expect and that is the incredible power of experience. The experience of life and of something to drive the reality of it. The moment by moment experience. When the play starts, when the play stops, that’s the experience. We typically talk about the play after the fact. Here’s all the analysis, the critics and stuff like that, but the play is the experience. It’s not the afterthought. It’s not the commentary. It’s not the rational value of it or the intellectual value. It’s the experience of it, whatever you want to call it. Some people like to call it emotion, but it’s way more than that. It’s life. What I found in the practical sense is if I was stranded on a desert island, I would become the worst version of myself by a thousand-fold.

If you extrapolate that into reality, if I didn’t have anybody to play the piano for, I would fall out of love with it. If I didn’t have anybody to share what I’m reading with, I would not read. If I didn’t have anybody to share the beauty of a sunset with, I would overlook it because left myself, I’m a bastard. I’m selfish and bored. I want everything to jump out at me and entertain me all the time because I’m broken inside. I’m saying that’s humanity. That’s the fall. What I’m saying is that when people come over, I jumped at the opportunity to show them the house or the yard or a piece I’m learning on the piano or share with them what I’m learning or share with them a podcast I enjoyed or share with them anything. If they bite and experience it with me, it’s ten times the experience it would have been if it was by itself.

I’m learning the power of that and embracing it to seek out to say I’m not entertaining people when they come over to my house. I’m not being hospitable. I’m being enriched because when people come into my home and we get to share all of our life with them, our stories, our stuff, our passions, our experiences, they’ve brought so much life. If you look at people and judge them by the face value of, “Are we alike or not?” You’re looking at a play and you’re saying is it true or not? It doesn’t matter. It’s not the point. The play is meant to be an experience to lead you to a certain result, to enrich your life so that now you’re a different person. It changes you. It’s the same thing with people. That’s the value of relationships. Even if the guy’s a complete idiot, I’m going to value him and accept him in my life because the sharing together will bring about something I have no idea. It’s so powerful. It’s like magic and God is there. You know that. We’ve talked about that before, but it was powerful for me to learn that.

We’re going to keep learning that as we always do. I love to reiterate what you said, it’s the experiences of life and sharing amplifies that experience both ways, both to the sharer and to the receiver. It ultimately enriches it, which is a good word. I also love what you mentioned that left to ourselves, we become the worst version of our self. That is so true on many fronts. I know I experienced that a lot as well. For me, it’s newer in a relationship, but if I am left to my own thoughts and my own thinking on anything without roping her in, it starts becoming the worst version of myself for us. That’s not helpful, for her or for me or for us together. I had to learn that I can’t isolate myself. This is a team. This is a partnership. It’s life and it’s being human. It’s ultimately being connected to one another because we all are connected in this thing called life. It’s way more beautiful with others and by yourself. That is the truth. This has been legit. It’s always a pleasure being on the mic with you. Until next time, we hope you have an up and coming week.

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UAC 126 | Following Creative Pursuits

 

Pursuing a career in the arts, unfortunately, does not guarantee the kind of financial stability we need to survive in this world. This is the reality that filmmaker and writer Jordan Leach continues to face. Having found stability in a 9 to 5 job, Jordan was able to follow his creative pursuits. Now, he has multiple accolades to his name, published the sci-fi, time-travel thriller called Echo, and currently producing his feature film, The Odyssey. In this episode, Jordan shares the journey of how he finds the balance between peace and stress and develops the mental and emotional resilience needed in today’s world. He also talks about his creative pursuits – the process of writing a novel, becoming a filmmaker, and finding a way to make things work. Sharing a load of wisdom, pick up some great life lessons from Jordan as he takes us across the changes of his perspective over time and more.

Listen to the podcast here:

Fellowship ft. Jordan Leach: On Creative Pursuits, Filmmaking, Resilience, Perspective Changes, And Faith

This is a show all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that it takes living with intention in the tension. Life has many tensions that we get the chance to walk through daily and intentionality is a thing that we believe allows us to walk forward. Thanks for tuning in and being a part of this community and the Up and Comers movement. If you want to learn more about our show, go to TheUpAndComersShow.com. That’s where all the information is about us. Let me remind you of a few easy ways to give back to us. We release new episodes every Wednesday morning and have been doing so for a few years. It’s been an awesome journey, but we can’t do it alone. We need your help in three easy ways. One, leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. It takes about one minute of your time and it’s all that we ask. You can drop us a five-star rating, leave a few comments on review and that’s such a great way to have us reach more people and get more people engaging with our content.

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This is a fellowship episode which is more of a peer to peer conversation, a little shorter than the deep dive interviews where a guest and I get to talk about a range of issues and topics that we’re facing in life. Our guest is Jordan Leach. He is a filmmaker and author from Waukesha, Wisconsin. With multiple accolades to his name, Jordan published the sci-fi time travel thriller Echo and is in production on his feature film, The Odyssey, set to be released late 2020. He now works with Crooked Jaw Productions and has produced several feature films both in Hollywood and in the independent markets.

Now transitioning to novels, Jordan’s talents began at the age of six, writing short stories and dabbling in animation. Soon after, he took up theater and vocal performances, finding all his skills culminating into a film. With a father who works as a videographer, Jordan helped cultivate the film production course at his high school and that ambition on to this day. Jordan recognizes that his gifts are God-given and he seeks to use him solely for his glory. While creating unique, exciting stories spanning multiple genres, he ensures the message points the audience to God speaking the truths and teaching of his love. Jordan hopes in the near future to turn his passions into a viable lifelong career, serving God and entertaining the world. You can find him on the socials and his book is now available on Amazon. In this conversation, there’s a wide range of topics we cover, including his diverse skillset and background.

We talk about the balance of peace versus stress. We talk about storytelling and different creative pursuits. We talk about developing mental and emotional resilience. We talk about the process of writing a novel, of becoming a filmmaker and finding a way to make things work. We talk about how perspective changes over time, the difference between openness and specificity and much more. It’s a fun, wide-ranging conversation. Jordan has many talents and has a sweet heart. We had a blast. I’m getting to talk about life and sharing where we’re at. There are a lot of helpful and practical relatable insights that you’re going to connect with from this conversation. I will stop talking and let you get to it. Please enjoy this fellowship episode with Jordan Leach.

Jordan Leach, welcome to the show.

Thank you very much.

It’s fun to be here. It’s fun to be chatting with you. LA is such a funny place because many times people are like, “What do you do?” I feel like your answer would be pretty intriguing to a lot of people.

It’s a harder question to answer than you would think especially out here in LA. When people ask me what I do, the toss-up is do I tell them what I do to make money or do I tell them what I’m pursuing? That’s how it is for a lot of people in LA.

Most people err on what they’re pursuing and trying to pretend that’s making them a lot of money. Tell me about your 9:00 to 5:00.

I would never have thought that this would have been the case a few years ago, but I work as a manager at a pest control company here in LA, which brings in quite a bit of business out here.

There’s such a need for that especially here or anywhere, but it’s a great business. It’s undeniable. Give me a little bit of scope from what you were doing even in the college years to where you are now because that’s always a fascinating journey.

In college, I always knew I wanted to pursue film and filmmaking. I started dabbling in that in high school and ever since then, I was on a straight forward trajectory. I was like, “I’m going to go into film.” I got some training. I went to university out in Florida and came out here to California pursuing that. I knew what I wanted to go for and so that’s what I was doing but that doesn’t always pay the bills right away. Once I moved out here to LA, I started bouncing around a little bit from job-to-job, a lot of part-time work, a lot of inconsistency, working nights, weekends, overnight shifts, a lot of different things that I was trying to feel any career in order to make some money while I was pursuing a career in film.

Eventually, one of my good buddies who work in marketing was working at different companies doing marketing and research and creating websites for them. One of the places he was working at was a pest control company. He was like, “They’re looking for a manager. I know that you’re good with management, organization, scheduling, that stuff. I should refer you to this job. He got me in. This is a small mom and pop place, but it’s a fast-growing one because the way that they organize and structure their business is employee-centric, which I like. I got the shoe in that way and it was a perfect fit, to be honest. I would never have thought that I was going to crave a 9:00 to 5:00 job.

Constantly trying to pursue more is definitely stressful, tiring, and taxing. Click To Tweet

Isn’t that fascinating? I face that tension now even as I think about the future and having a serious girlfriend and planning on now, not one, but two. Thinking about how to provide and the tension of having that stability of a 9:00 to 5:00 is now in the front and center of my mind. There’s always this lurking feeling of, “I don’t want to sacrifice the pursuit of X, Y or Z for this.” There is some narrative around this that is not true. Talk to me more about what surprised you about that 9:00 to 5:00 stability or what it’s brought that you didn’t expect.

At first, I thought it was going to be monotonous. I thought it was going to be boring. It was going to be locked in which are elements to the 9:00 to 5:00 but what I love is that there’s consistency in it. I’m able to get nights and weekends off and that gives me more consistent time in order to pursue these other things. A few years ago, not only did I not expect to be in pest control, I did not expect to be working a 9:00 to 5:00.

How did you work through that in your mind or in your head when you’re going through even the applying or interview process and thinking about is this is what I want? What was that thought process like for you?

Honestly, I was looking for anything that would give me stability at the time. A lot of that came down to having worked many part-time jobs and jobs that have fluctuating hours for so long that I needed that stability. I was craving it at that point. I would never have thought that was the case. I’ve worked at fast-food restaurants. I’ve worked in retail. I’ve worked in security. Finally, I was looking for anything and everything that was available to me and that popped up.

What is the daily life and times of a manager at a pest control company like?

It depends on the company. This one specifically definitely the management of the actual technicians and employees that work there. It’s a lot of scheduling, maintenance, dealing with customers and dealing with sales. It’s an ongoing process. You would think that it would get monotonous. It is as a management, a desk job, which I know is not for everybody. Some people can’t stand sitting behind a desk but as a writer, I don’t mind it as much.

It’s fun too to figure out what’s best for us and not just have other people say or be influenced by what other people say. Many people say, “I don’t want to be a desk job,” but do you really? Maybe that is good for you or that’s truly how you’re going to be best supported in what you’re trying to do in life or what you feel called to do. It’s funny how I let the culture or the people around me influence who I am, whether or not that’s truly me. It’s pretty interesting. As you look at it now, how has this experience as a manager, not only how’s it grown you as a person, but also how has it improved, benefit or even hurt your other career pursuits, the other goals that you have?

There are a couple of different things that I’ve learned in this position. First of all, I constantly have to remind myself how much of a blessing this job is. I don’t think it matters what job a person is doing. We can easily start to take our blessings for granted. This position, this job that I have, came to me at the perfect time. It very much is a godsend position. There are things that it provides me that I would never have gotten anywhere else. Not to mention that it gives me the ability to pursue my career on the side, which is also quite difficult at any other job. That is one thing that I have had to remind myself of. Not much the job itself as it is, my heart and the need that I have to try to pursue more constantly. I wonder if that is something that’s a little bit cultural, that if we’re not positioned in the place that we want to be, we never find satisfaction in that.

UAC 126 | Following Creative Pursuits

Echo

That is a fascinating point, the need to pursue more. It’s something that most people in LA face because it is a hyper achievement culture. America is a culture of achievement, but city centers like LA or New York or other big cities are often hyper forms of these. I feel that a lot. Are you familiar with the Enneagram? It’s an ancient self-diagnostic tool that’s been getting a lot of buzzes. There are nine different archetypes that are your personality or your natural dispositions. I’m a three, which is the achiever. I already have a propensity towards that. Being in a place like LA amplifies that even more. This is a question that I think about quite a bit is the need to pursue more, what’s healthy and unhealthy in that. How do you evaluate that for yourself?

Now that you’re mentioning it, those nine archetypes, that sounds familiar to me. I was able to see something like that about a year ago or so. Going back to your question, how do I review that for myself?

The point you brought up with, the need to pursue more is something that I face a lot and I know a lot of people do in LA or anywhere. If you’re trying to accomplish things, there’s pressure to do more and more and accomplish more and more. Some of that is good. Some of that is not good. It’s healthy and unhealthy depending on where we’re at in the spectrum. In your own self-evaluation, how do you process that when you feel those pressures?

Some of it comes down to a level of peace, a level of stress. Those two things are constantly at odds. By constantly trying to pursue more, it’s stressful, tiring and taxing. There are things that we can neglect and you definitely can see not a mental but a physical toll. You’ll have an internal longing for peace. Naturally, we have this pole in us that is pulling us one direction. If we go too far in that direction, we’re going to pull back a little bit. It’s this pendulum dance. It happened naturally. God has ingrained that in our souls that we are created to work, to pursue, to build, to create, but at the same time, He also has built it in us for rest, for peace, for Him.

It’s funny there’s a quote that is good on change and basically, I’ll paraphrase it. It talks about how change and consistency are the two weights that God has patterned the world and he’s given us the means to enjoy them both. It’s constantly this pendulum swing between change and consistency. There is such a rhythm to that and a pattern to that in life. What you mentioned too as the key is recognizing where we’re at in that. It’s the biggest point, all of it. If I can’t see clearly where I’m at in that pendulum, I won’t be able to give myself what I need at that moment. If I don’t see it, the level of stress is beyond what’s helpful. I can’t give myself the necessary recovery to get back to that piece. I love what you mentioned, “Is there a level of peace or a level of distress within this?” Not all stress is bad. The you stress is good. It’s a good form of stress and we need that exertion, but we need the necessary recovery after that. It’s a funny dance. The more we try to remove the dance, the more harm we cause. We need to embrace the dance and see it as beautiful.

It’s the same with change too because change can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing. You don’t want to change everything for the sake of it. You want to be able to hold on and preserve the things that are worth saving and preserving while changing things that need to grow, need to change and all that stuff.

Change for itself isn’t worth it, but change for a greater purpose. Change just to change isn’t necessarily good. Change for growth and progress in a helpful way without discarding where we’ve been or where we’ve come from is more of that foundational importance in that chain. It’s funny because even that has such a pendulum. We can be all of our progress that we forget the necessary sustainable components of cultivating what we have. I love how Andy Crouch put it in Culture Making. It’s a great book. If you haven’t read it, you have to read it. He talks about our creational design being from God as creators and cultivators of culture. We’re both creating like Adam named all the animals. He gave him a job of creating to name all the things.

He also gave him the job of cultivating the garden, keeping what was there and that’s the sweet dance. That’s where our tagline, intention in the tension, it’s a sweet depiction of that. Both are true. It’s a both-and and where you are in the tension. I want to underscore what you said that I love so much is reminding yourself of the blessing that it is where we’re at. That is such a helpful practice. When I don’t do that, it’s hilarious how much lack of fulfillment, discontentment comes and creeps in instantly. What other things like that have kept you grounded or kept you grateful or present? What are some of those practices for you or those cornerstone habits?

Our culture is one that tries to tell us that we always need more, that we should not be satisfied, that we should not be content, that we need to keep pursuing and striving. That’s a little bit of capitalism in a sense, the competition sense. The balance, some of that is good. At the same time, if we’re constantly trying to get more without realizing what we have, we’re never going to find happiness. We’re going to find fulfillment. It doesn’t matter how much we achieve. We’ve seen people that have been able to achieve the world and still don’t find happiness, contentment and any of that. That was a humbling experience when I found that I might not have everything, maybe might not have that much, but what I do have, I can find contentment in.

At the end of the day, if I have God, I already have everything. That is a sobering and humbling reality that is contrasting to what the world is trying to tell me. As far as trying to constantly remind myself of that, a lot of that comes down to constantly immerse myself in the word, in God’s truths. Keeping a relationship with Him is crucial to reminding these simple truths that definitely helped to steer my life in a better direction because so often can I get self-destructive. Can I try to compromise and do things that are destructive for me out of the pursuit of progress?

If we're constantly trying to get more without realizing what we have, we're never going to find happiness. Click To Tweet

It’s such an anchor too. It’s the thing that keeps us grounded because it’s always there. It’s never changing and it’s something tangible. The spirit is a force behind it. The word is also like the clarity that helps guide it. It’s that combination, that one-two punch that makes it powerful. We have to have it. It’s so fun because we can read our whole lives and new things are constantly coming out of it every single time. It’s mind-blowing. I’m always surprised and I’m like, “I’d never read this that way or I never saw this before,” and that happens so often. It’s funny because many things like that are simple, but by that nature that they’re not novel, we lose our love for it, which is funny. It’s ridiculous. Going back to a little bit of your background, you grew up in Wisconsin. You went to Florida for school and come down to California. Did you ever see yourself living in LA? What was that journey like culturally?

My dad was born and raised in the Long Beach area. I’m familiar with this area. I came out here and visited every once in a while when I was growing up. I always had a love for the city. Now I do know that LA is not what it was during my dad’s time. That’s interesting seeing the change in culture and the city as a whole out there. I always had this pursuit of getting away from the cold for one. It definitely can get cold in Wisconsin. The average per winter, I would say it can get with the wind chill around negative ten. There is a lot of snow, which you think it’s nice to have seasons, but having to wake up every single morning to scrape ice off your car and black ice on the road, it gets a little daunting after a while.

That’s true. Every place wears on you in different ways. We had to recognize it for what it is. It comes back to that same thing. Are we seeing it for what it is and seeing a blessing in it because each place does provide a blessing if we look for it hard enough. The film was always at the heart of what you felt called to in many ways or was it film and writing? What were those early longings? What is that dream that you’re pursuing now?

I started writing short stories when I was around six. I was homeschooled at the time. I had all these imaginative characters and all these stories in my head. I started to write them down on the page and back then they were not good, but I had a lot to tell. It was a fun little thing that I was constantly pursuing. I would get into animation and draw cartoons. I would get into theater eventually. All these different artistic dynamics eventually came together.

Do you still have any of those short stories?

I still have a couple of them in there. I look through them every once in a while and they’re pretty silly.

That’s got to be a trip to go back and read those.

I’ve written stories where I had an imaginary friend named Rick and we would go on these adventures. It made absolutely no sense. My dad was a videographer at a sports station. He got me interested in the camera side of things. All these artistic things from writing to drawing, animation to acting, theater, directing and camera work came together and geared me towards the film. Thankfully, I was at a school in high school that had a film program that was starting up. I helped cultivate the whole process at the school, which has now been booming. I got my shoe in that way. I was like, “This is what I want to do. This is what I want to pursue.” The funny thing is that in school growing up, the worst things that I remember having to go through were group projects. Those are definitely a struggle to get through. Film is the ultimate group project. There’s a humbling factor in that as well.

UAC 126 | Following Creative PursuitsI want to hear a little bit more about this because this is something that was true for me as well. Golf is an individual sport. I was competitive. I wanted to win so bad that I gravitated towards golf because I felt like I control all the variables more and “guarantee success.” It was naive and ignorant of me. Regardless, how did you walk through that tension as a kid? Even learning how to work as a team or what that process was like?

I had to first come to terms with the fact that there’s always going to be at least one person in every group project that will not do the work. Once I accepted that and I’m willing to take on that extra work because I know that I’ll put the work in and get a good product out of it, I was okay with someone else taking the credit. At the end of the day, it wasn’t about me. It was about the final product. That’s how I always saw it. Thankfully, film, I would think more so than it would be in school, almost everyone involved is trying to create a good final product. That isn’t necessarily the case in all films, but the vast majority of the people that are working on it are trying to do their best work, which is cool as far as a group project goes.

In regards to what you were saying about wanting that control and having that ability to have the final product come out exactly as you see it, I’ve always struggled with that. That’s also why I was interested in writing a book as well. I’ve had all these stories in my head. Some of them are quite sizable as far as scale goes, the scope of it. I know that when it comes to a couple of these stories, they’re not stories or films that I could create as of right now. It would take a long time, a lot of influence and money. I didn’t realize that with some of these stories, the scope is only limited to someone’s imagination. Given that I have written prose and short stories in college and whatnot, I was like, “Why don’t I start pursuing writing a book, taking some of these stories and letting people’s imaginations run wild a little bit?” Not only would I be able to see that the final product came out exactly as it’s intended to do, rather than getting watered down from a bunch of different perspectives, viewpoints and ideas, that I’d be able to see that these stories come to life.

I want to underscore a couple of things. First, what you said about everyone trying to do their best work is such a revolutionary concept for all of us to latch on to. Even in an argument or a debate or a disagreement, the understanding that we all think that we’re right. We’re operating from a place of thinking that we’re doing our best or whatever for our greatest good and the world’s greatest good. That’s the place that pretty much 99% of people operate from. If we can remove our defenses saying, “They think they’re right. I think I’m right. Let’s have a conversation.” That’s helpful in personal relationships and conversations.

Even on the teamwork side, we’re all trying to do our best work. We’re trying to do what’s best for us sometimes too, which is a different question like, “How can we make that the same thing as what’s great for the team too,” and merging those? I love what you highlighted there and I think it’s true for all of us in life. I love the other thing you brought up, which was making things not about our self. I find that so much for me, even like a recipe for disaster is when I make something about myself that shouldn’t be and a lot of things shouldn’t, most things shouldn’t. It’s not about me. The world doesn’t revolve around me. Thane is not the center of the universe. We can all agree with that, now act in accordance to that. It’s such a practice of that. We have to all fight to not make it about our self. That’s huge. The other thing I want to hear more on now is that scope is limited to our imagination. That is such a powerful idea.

How do you think about that? Give me a little bit more of your thoughts on what the implications of that are. There are many self-limiting beliefs that get in the way in every arena in life, not creative endeavors, but maybe it’s in the gym, the weight you can lift. Maybe it’s within your job, the responsibility you can take on or maybe it’s within a relationship and what you’re able to sacrifice for another human being. All of those things we have self-fulling beliefs and the scope often is limited. What are the implications of that, the scope is limited to your imagination? How does that flush out for you or what are the implications of that for you and your own life?

I first learned how much I have to grapple with my own limitations because I spent a few years in the military. One thing I had to learn quickly was that I can always take more than my mind thinks I can. I think that not only it was true there, but it’s true in every walk of life. You’re talking about working out at the gym, sometimes I’ll get tired, but I have to fight through that mental block and tell myself, “I can take more, I can do more.” There is a limitation to that as well because sometimes we’re pushing ourselves so hard that we end up hurting ourselves in the long run. A lot of it comes back down to that balance that we keep talking about, keep bringing up. That’s like we should know and understand that we can do more. We are only as limited as we allow ourselves to be but at the same time, we do have to reflect on that and keep ourselves in check.

It is a constant checking in the process too. We all have to be forced to that place of like, “I can do more, take more than I think I can.” I slept in a little bit and ran over to the park. I was planning on getting a workout in. I didn’t get one in, but I ran over to the park and did some park workout stuff for 15, 20 minutes. I was running back. I was thinking, “Thane, you’re starting to be easier on yourself than you used to be,” which is natural. I was forced as a professional athlete to not ever do less than I can and to always push beyond what I can because that was my job. For you in the military, you were forced to do more than you thought you could and to prove to yourself and to those around you that what you’re capable of and what you’re required sometimes in service. We all have to be forced that place to understand that from an experiential level, otherwise, we’re never going to understand that. You have to be forced to. Even then, you have to keep forcing yourself too in a healthy way and have others do that too, which is the importance of accountability in a lot of ways. What were the few years in the military like? Where did you serve? When was that in the timeline?

There was an interesting process. I was in Wisconsin at the time, starting out college. I felt like it was a good career path to pursue for a couple of years. I never wanted to pursue it long-term, but it was something I wanted to pursue. I had a couple of buddies who were in it, talking me through it. That was definitely an interesting process because not only did it strengthen me mentally, it’s strengthened me emotionally as well. Before that time, I was taking for granted the life I was living. I liked to be comfortable. A lot of us like to be comfortable no matter where we are in life. I wasn’t pushing myself in any one direction. I had my own dreams and pursuits. If I was doing anything that was outside of my own personal dream, I didn’t care so much. Discipline was something that was ingrained in me through the military. I had to be in basic training down in Georgia for a few months. Basic training in Georgia is already brutal. Georgia, that whole state, the border traps in the most amount of humidity you will ever feel in your life. Having to carry 100 pounds of weight fully clothed from head to toe in 110-degree weather was brutal.

When we hear about strength, we always first think physical. Sometimes we think mental, but rarely do we think emotional, which is interesting. They’re all important facets. It gets harder to train, the more you get done. Physical is probably easier than mental and mental is probably easier than emotional. The most crucial is probably the emotional side to be able to handle the toll of life that will inevitably come. Death is an inescapable part of life and that is an incredible emotional tool. Hardship and suckiness are present everywhere in life. If we aren’t strengthened emotionally to endure that, we’ll break. That’s a growing problem too is how do we do a better job of strengthening the next generation, the generations to come, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally?

Sometimes, we're pushing ourselves so hard that we end up hurting ourselves in the long run. Click To Tweet

That’s why I feel so blessed too to be a Christian, especially now our world is getting harder to live in. It’s not harder physically, it’s harder emotionally, economically and spiritually. Being a Christian, being able to find that strength in God, there is never going to be a limit to that. That’s definitely a blessing that I do not want to take for granted is that I’m able to withstand the world because I have gotten.

I’m reading through John 8. It’s amazing to see as the example we’ll get to follow in Jesus because this dude was a normal guy that lived a couple of thousand years ago and yet he came and flipped the world on its head, of showing, “You think you want this great heroic power and I’m going to come to lay down my life.” That’s what it looks like. That’s what power is. It’s laying down your life. What killed Jesus was religion and power. The religious people and the people with power were the ones that ended up executing Him, which is fascinating to think about. In John 8, the religious rulers are completely ignorant of what he’s saying and not accepting. There’s a lot of boldness that Jesus displays, that we get to live with boldness from too. We get to see the example and yet it’s a boldness that’s all grounded in love. It’s based in love, which is what changes the world, that type of love.

The one thing that got me, my wife and I were reading through 2 Samuel and in that story, David was king, anointed by God and through his trials, his flaws and failures, he ended up killing Bathsheba’s husband and taking her in. His family was completely broken apart. There was a section that we came upon that humbled me where he was fleeing Israel. He left his throne and left everything. He had a couple of companions and his friends with him. His son has created a conspiracy and taken over. In his journey into the wilderness, completely losing everything, he came upon a man named Shimei, who had a lineage with Saul, David’s old rival. During this time, David is in the desert. He’s exhausted. He’s starving. All of his men are on edge. His throne has been taken from his son.

This man, Shimei, starts cursing him, starts throwing insults at him, and starts throwing rocks at them. He’s literally hitting David with dirt and rocks. His men turned to David and said, “Should we kill this man? Should we take him out? We don’t have to deal with this.” David said, “It’s possible that his cursing is coming from God, that this might be a test, that God is allowing this man to curse us and throw these rocks at us and allow us to feel punishment for my sin.” It’s possible. David wasn’t saying that this is the case but he’s saying it’s possible. I reflected on that when it comes to everyday life and trials that we’ve faced, driving on the road, someone cuts you off, having to deal with little nuisances throughout the day.

Somebody gets in your way at the grocery store, all these little things that build up and are uncomfortable that we take them personally. These little things that build up throughout the day and we harbor that in our hearts and allow this to break us down a little bit. That section in the Bible changed my perspective on a lot of that where it’s like, “It doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a test from God, but possibly I’m in this position because God is trying to test me, build me and grow me. That possibly what is happening right here, God is trying to better me as a person, strengthen me emotionally and spiritually.”

It redeems everything in that sense. There’s nothing that’s not redeemable in that perspective, which is so beautiful and that gives us the resilience and the strength to endure things that are hard to endure. That’s what faith is all about. It’s believing in what you can’t fully see. It is built over time. It is given at one point in time. It’s a both-and. It’s a crazy journey. I love that story. I would love to hear a little bit since you were pursuing film for quite some time and you’ve had quite a few endeavors with a film. What has been the career path or trajectory for you as a filmmaker and the projects you’ve done and what those have taught you? What have those experiences given you?

Starting out here in LA, I did get a couple of positions in jobs, working freelance on some bigger pictures. That was a pretty interesting process to see how Hollywood and the big elites created film and how that works. That was interesting. On the flip side, I attached myself to some people that I knew from film school. We created a production company and we’ve been working on stuff for the last several years, short films here and there. We ended up working on a feature film. As of right now, we are working on my first feature film that I have also written. I’m directing and producing that one. There are a lot of different hats that everyone has to wear when you’re working on a smaller production, not to mention you’re working with smaller budgets too. The question becomes, how much can we make this money stretch? How much can we do with what we have? What resources do we have at our disposal that we can use? The game completely changes depending on where you are in the industry.

What’s a typical budget size that you’re working with versus when people think of feature-length films? What is a typical budget for the ones that most people reading would expect?

The production company that I’m with, we are willing to work with any amount we’re given, to be honest. We’re quite resourceful in that fact. I know I’ve met a lot of up and coming filmmakers who don’t have the same mentality. That mentality is unique to us, which I appreciate. I don’t want not to be able to do something because we don’t have money or resources. We have creativity. We have a drive. We might as well try to find a way to do it. The first feature film we made a while back, I wasn’t much involved in the creative process as I was the production side. That one was a horror comedy and that one we were given a budget of $15,000, which for a feature film is next to no money.

UAC 126 | Following Creative Pursuits

 

What is the typical budget for a feature film that would go to the big screen? What is the average budget for that?

Here’s the thing. A low-budget feature film that could possibly make it into a few theaters is $5 million. It’s hilarious to think about a couple of different things. The first Star Wars film back in ‘76, if you take inflation into account, you could’ve made that movie for about $76 million. The average big-budget blockbuster film nowadays is getting made for $150 million, twice that. It’s hilarious. I was also thinking about Howard Hughes back in the ‘20s. He was putting gobs of money behind projects that people were like, “You can’t put this much money behind a film when it’s hilarious.” If you account for inflation, he’s putting maybe $30 million behind a movie. I’ve seen some great films in the last several years that were made for only $40 million, $50 million, which sounds like a lot, but when you take into account all these other films that are being made, it’s not a lot.

It’s honestly on the lower end, which is why I don’t believe that you need a ton of money to make a great film. Hollywood gets a little bit frivolous with their money. They are willing to show a lot of these funds out to try to create the best product possible without much thought process behind using it wisely. We see films that get made for $200 million and even more so. That’s the thing too because you have the actual budget of the film, which might be $150 million, but you don’t account for marketing and distribution. That could be another $100 million right there depending on the film. There are a lot of different factors at play and there’s a ton of money going behind it. Having worked in the studio system, I also do know that when it comes to the big studios, a lot of the times, they are banking on 1 to 2 films throughout the entire year to make back their entire budget hopefully. They’ll be putting out 10, 15, 20 films a year, but they’re hoping on maybe two making back a profit.

It’s the same as the startup world, unicorns and how all these hedge funds or VC firms. They’ll make 100 investments, but they want the 1 or 2 that are the icing on the cake that makes everything else happen. The $15,000 is basically like someone handing you $5.

It was a taxing process too because on that production, I was credited as a producer. I came on as a first assistant director. The first assistant director is responsible for scheduling contracts, basically all the paperwork. I’d never loved doing paperwork no matter what the job was, but I’m good at it. I’m good at organization. I’m good at scheduling all that other stuff. I had to take this $15,000 and be able to distribute evenly throughout the production to make sure it was going where it needed to go and also be able to schedule all these different crews and cast members. What we ended up doing was filmed an entire feature film, which runs around 90 minutes or so over the course of one week, which as far as timing goes, very few productions can film one movie in one week. We went to a cabin up in Idyllwild, California for a week. Many people got sick, myself included and even though it was incredibly exhausting and a lot of people were putting a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it, it was an experience that I’ll never forget.

What are you most proud of from that experience?

It’s the fact that we accomplished it given such a minimal budget, which I do not take for granted. The fact that someone gave us $15,000 is a lot of money and I appreciate that. We took that amount of money and be able to bring all these cast and crew members on and be able to film an entire feature within one week completely. That’s a huge accomplishment. Not only that, but everyone came out on the other side still in love with each other. We were a total family by the end of it, which we definitely had our ups and downs. It was a trying week but it was a great accomplishment.

It’s like it’s going to battle. You create those bonds that are tight-knit. When you think about film and that genre, that lane that you’re in, what is the long-term vision for you? What do you aspire towards in that?

My perspective on that has changed. Perspective is an interesting topic that we might be able to come back to. As far as what I hope to eventually accomplish is whether it be film or writing, I would like to be able to turn it into a viable career. I’d like to be able to make a living doing that, given that I believe this is something that I was called to do. It is a gift that God has given me and I do believe that he has given me these gifts for a reason. I would definitely love to be able to turn either film or writing or something creative into a career where I’d be able to do this long-term and be able to put all my focus on this one avenue.

While we are only as limited as we allow ourselves to be, we do have to reflect and keep ourselves in check. Click To Tweet

In your current outlook on that, what is your estimation on a timeline? We didn’t even know a timeline and that’s not great to predict, but as you see it now, what is that back of mind number of years to get to that place?

I would love to say that within five years that I’ve stabilized myself. That first feature that the production team I’m with, the one that we created, the marketing and distribution of it was a huge learning process, not the creating of the film itself, but what we did after we created it. We’ve learned much through that process that we’re able to do it correctly this time. That’s going to play out in our benefit in the near future. I would like to say five years I’d be able to figure something out.

I want to come back to perspective as you mentioned because perspective is everything. I love this quote from Richard Rohr. I thought it was one of the better ones I’ve heard. He said, “Every viewpoint is a view from a point. The more ways of knowing what we use, the closer we come to an understanding and yet the full picture will always elude us. In this way, the mystery is endlessly knowable.” I thought that was a beautiful picture of how our perspective will always be changing and never be full or complete. How have you seen your perspective shift and change?

This was a life-changing moment a couple of years back. Having come out here to LA pursuing these careers, the careers that I believed were God-driven, God-focused, it was a life-changing and humbling experience to realize where my heart truly was at. How I perceived my life and my future, I’ve been finding is quite common amongst our age group that we have this idea, this perspective of what our future needs to be. If we do not achieve that specific image, that picture of our future, if we don’t constantly strive towards that one perspective, that image, then we are not going to be fulfilled or happy.

I had this image several years back that in order to be content and happy with myself and my career, I would need to become a successful filmmaker. Get myself involved in the studio system, be able to purchase land and home out here in LA. There are specifics in this picture that I truly believed this was what I needed to do. I’ve been finding that there are other people like me who are coming out here pursuing dreams and their dream is a specific picture and that they’re holding onto that one picture. If they don’t achieve it, they start to fall apart a little bit. I know I myself fell into depression because I felt like that dream was slipping away. What I had to learn was that when it comes to happiness, joy, contentment and what life is, it’s not about specificity, it’s not about fulfilling this one specific dream. God can take us at any one moment, bless us and make us feel content in that.

I’ve stopped trying to control my life and my vision for my future. I started to accept that God is going to use me however He is going to use me. All I can do is try my best and do it for Him rather than for myself because if I’m striving to fulfill this one specific picture for my future, I’m doing it for myself and not for Him. That was a huge moment that broke me down as an individual where I had to accept that I wasn’t going to achieve this ideal future and that I had to give up this control and relent to God basically.

I definitely can say at that moment, that dark moment, I felt like I was being abandoned by God, that he had given me these gifts, but he wasn’t allowing me to use them and it confused me. I can now see that he was breaking me down to bring me back to him. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I am doing, it’s all about Him. Our lives are not about us. They’re about Him and praising Him and being able to have a relationship with Him, drawing closer to Him and I was missing that for a long period of my life.

I love hearing that. We could read that over and over again because that is crucial. It’s interesting when we think about depression or anxiety, depression is geared more towards the past. Anxiety is geared more towards the future, but both of them entail this control aspect of controlling the ideal and reconciling the difference between ideal and reality. That specificity versus the openness of receiving whatever it is, is the key. What you said, “Stop controlling, start accepting,” that’s such a hard thing to do. I don’t think we can overstate how hard that is, but I don’t think we can also overstate how crucial that is and that’s what frees us up to live lives of joy, abundance, peace and blessing or whatever that looks like. That looks like a lot of different things. It’s not what we think it looks like but what it actually is.

UAC 126 | Following Creative PursuitsThere’s another quote, “Love is accepting what is.” I was like, “That is good.” We all struggle with this. We all have a small view of the future and what we want it to be. We all think, “This is who I am now. This is who I need to be in the future. I need to do everything right so that I fit into that little tiny picture that I have is the ideal.” We don’t know. None of us know the future and we shouldn’t, we can’t and that starting to accept what is, it’s the practice that frees us up and releases us from the bondage that these other things can produce. I fall prey to this too. I err on the side of stress versus peace when I start saying, “This is where I need to be. This is what I needed to do. This is how I need to make money and this is how I need to provide because these things are unknown. If I don’t do X, Y or Z, my worst fears are going to come true.” I have to do the practice of letting go of control, accepting where I’m at, seeing the blessing where it is, affirming what I know to be true and taking another step regardless of the outcome. It’s such a human practice.

That specifically is why I wrote the book that I did, dealing with time travel. It was a personal story. Like you were saying, “Depression is about the past, the fear of the future and trying to control it,” and that’s something I wanted to explore. I wanted to break it down and evaluate myself, my internal struggles and put that into a story. I found that storytelling for me personally is definitely a cathartic experience. I’m able to learn and evaluate myself and my struggles, my flaws, my failures through storytelling.

It’s such a human thing. We learn from story. We don’t learn from information because we put ourselves in the story and we experience it in a visceral and tangible way versus this intellectual head speak, which I’m guilty of more than anyone else. The book is Echo. Tell me about where this book came from and a little bit of an overview of the process from start to end.

I’ve read your book as well and it’s two completely different worlds when it comes to books because yours is self-help, more of an inspirational, informational one. Mine is completely fictional, more on the narrative aspects of storytelling. I wrote this a few years ago as a screenplay. I have all these ideas and I do write fast. I don’t read fast. Reading is a whole process for me because I’m such a visual learner. I wouldn’t say I was good at school growing up because I needed to translate everything that I was receiving on the page into an image in my head. For that reason, when it comes to reading, I usually have to reread paragraphs over and over again in order to retain what’s being said. However, when it comes to writing, I already have the images in my head, now I just need to translate them to the page.

Is that true too for fiction when you read fiction versus nonfiction?

It’s true for both. I need to know and picture what I’m seeing.

Do you say you prefer movies over books for both entertainment and learning?

Yes, it’s a struggle when it comes to books that have been turned into TV shows or movies. I will automatically be tempted to want to watch the movie or the TV show more because it’s much easier to consume. It takes a lot of patience and discipline in order to read a book, but it’s definitely rewarding. I wrote Echo specifically as a screenplay as I’ve written with all my other stories. I knew that this story has a scale, a scope to it. If it was going to be told in the near future, it had to be told in a book. Given my personal struggles in years, this was the one that I was like, “This one needs to be told.” This is an important one, not for me personally, I think this is what God wants me to share. This is what people need to hear. It’s an entertaining story because that’s something to me as a storyteller. This is something that I’ve always tried to do is that I want to tell God’s truths. I want to say something rather than have a cool story. While I’m saying those things, these truths of God, I want to be able to entertain the audience as well. I want the story to be iconic and memorable and have a lasting impression on the reader.

When you were in this process, you have a lot of these different narratives and stories that you’ve created and come up with that are all promising in your mind. How did you decide to take the first step with this one? Anytime we start anything, we know that it means you can’t do other things. There’s a limitation that’s scary. There’s this opposition to taking the first step. How did you take that first step in starting it? How did you end up choosing this story out of the other ones?

There was a period where I started to see that self-publishing was a viable option. When I had written it as a screenplay, there were some things that I knew I wanted to do with this story. Things like telling the story out of order, things like changing different formats, specific things that traditional book publishers usually don’t allow. If I was going to create this story, it was going to be self-published. I knew that already. I was being introduced to this idea that self-publishing was becoming not a viable option, but it was growing in popularity. I also was not ignorant in knowing that writing a book and marketing and publishing all that other stuff, it is a completely different world than filmmaking.

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If I was going to pursue it, I was going to have to research every aspect of it. It was going to be a lot of work. I went in knowing that. It was interesting too because I started this process in 2018. It’s been about a twelve-month process at this point between writing and editing and publishing and marketing. It was interesting because when I did the research, I researched everything while in 2018, all of the formalities and policies when it came to self-publishing completely changed. I had to re-research everything. It was an interesting process too because we had talked about filmmaking being a group project and then me going into writing a book thinking that it was a self-project. I would have more control over the final product and yet through the process, I had to learn how much of a group project it is. You need other people for the final product to come out. Thankfully, I have some amazing people in my life that were willing and excited to help out with this project. I met some great people in the process, through the editing and the creation of the cover. On the marketing side of things, to the promotional side, creating the website and all these other social media pages, everything goes into the process and it’s something that you can’t do alone.

We always underestimate what goes into anything, all of the decisions, pieces, components and people that are teammates that are needed. It’s shocking. Even me, when I went into it, I was aware that was a common reality. Because you’re aware of something, that doesn’t mean it’s still not going to be hard and different than you experienced or thought before and it was so true for me too. You’re like, “There are many pieces to this puzzle.” The writing is one small piece of that. What are you most proud of with this book? What are the things that you’re grateful for in this process, what did it teach you and what are you most proud of in it?

First of all, I am proud of how the final product came out. It’s interesting because I would say a few years ago, I started to research storytelling as an art form and trying to better myself as a writer and something in me clicked. Even though I wrote this story a few years ago, it is leaps and bounds over what it was originally between the characters, story, plot beats and plot twists and all of these different things that would not have reached its full potential a couple of years ago. God specifically put this on my heart at this moment because it was going to reach its full potential right now. I’m proud of that. I am proud of the cover. I’m proud of the marketing campaign that has been behind it, basically the whole process. I am proud of how everything has turned out. I can’t speak to how it’s done financially. I think I’ve given all that up to God. I’ve done my part and I’ve said, “God, I want this to be about you. I’m going to give it up to you.” The process of getting there, God has definitely been driving me through that. Honestly, I’m looking at it now and I’m a self-published author, which I don’t want to undermine that and that’s a cool thing. That’s not me trying to brag but that’s an accomplishment. That’s something that God has allowed me to do.

It’s owning the blessing in that and being proud of that. Being proud of that is not a simple thing. It’s a good thing. Being proud of the work you put in, the efforts and the final product and knowing that you did your best work with it and that’s such a rewarding thing. That’s such a God-honoring thing. A lot of times in the Christian world, we have a lot of angst about, “I need to be humble,” but also need to be proud of the way God’s gifted us and using us. We struggle more with that than being humble part a lot of times, so I love that. You should own that. It is such a sweet thing.

I am such a believer that if you want to write a book, you should. Not everyone can, but if you have the space and the time where you were willing to sacrifice to make the spaces, then we should regardless of what comes. It’s going to be rewarding from seeing it through to completion, having something you’re going to hold and something you can always look back. You’re going to learn much from the process of doing it that it will be worth its weight in gold regardless. The financial return isn’t important. That’s not what it’s about. If that’s what it’s about, don’t do it. Who is this book for? Who are the people that should read this?

It definitely caters to science fiction, fantasy and spy thriller. Those people will get a kick out of this story. However, I would also say that there is a true emotional center to the book. Anyone that’s looking for truth, looking for clarity in life, this has a human element to it that speaks to all of humanity and not specifically to a niche market. I know that a lot of times, science fiction as a genre can cater to a specific audience and alienate people that aren’t in the genre. I tried to look at science fiction from a practical, real-world sense. I tried to look at people like Stephen Hawking and other scientists like Einstein. I look at what their theories are when it comes to elements like time travel. I was like, “I want to bring that into this story.” I’ve tried to open up the audience a little bit that way that I’m bringing the real-world aspects into it rather than try to muddle it with technical jargon. I tried to bog down with too much fantasy behind the time travel, give a little bit of weight and foundation to it. The heart and center isn’t the time travel itself. It’s the characters, the journeys, the growth and the arts that they’re experiencing, the trials and the situations that they’re confronted with. That is what’s going to speak to people the most.

From what we’ve talked about, as a teaser for people reading, there are some cool creative pieces that he’s inputted into the book that you’re going to love. I can’t endorse that enough, a few one-offs. We could keep talking forever, but the day is getting away from us. A few one-offs and we’ll be done. The first one is what question do you ask yourself the most?

I would say what I ask myself the most is, “Am I doing what’s right?” Even subconsciously, I’m always thinking that. I know I’m not always doing what’s right, but it’s always in the back of my mind. There is something inside me, probably the Holy Spirit who’s constantly wanting me to do what’s right and constantly questioning that.

UAC 126 | Following Creative PursuitsIf you could teach a class for a semester, what would you teach on in one?

It’s got to be creative writing. I took a couple of creative writing classes in college. I absolutely loved them. I feel like I’ve got some good insights and practical insight that would help a lot of up and coming writers.

What age would you want to teach on that?

College would be a good one. I don’t have a doctorate.

This is the last question and we ask every guest this question. If you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there, what message would you send and why?

I would say wake up reminding yourself of all the blessings God has given you. That is the best way to start your day. If you’re starting out thinking about God and everything that you do have and everything He’s blessed you with, the rest of the day gets so much easier.

Jordan, this has been awesome. Where are good places for people to find the book, find you, reach out, what are all the places to connect?

The book right now is on Amazon in paperback and eBook versions. As far as where you can find me, I’m on Facebook, social media, Instagram, those are the best places to find me. Facebook, it’s Facebook.com/jordanmichaelleach. On Instagram, it’s @JordanLeach_Author. Those are places you can find and reach me. I’m definitely and willing to reach out and talk more about different story ideas and questions you may have.

Until next time, thanks so much for coming on and sharing some insights.

Thank you.

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About Jordan Leach

UAC 126 | Following Creative PursuitsJordan Leach is a filmmaker and author from Waukesha, WI.

With multiple accolades to his name, Jordan recently published the sci-fi, time-travel thriller “Echo” and is currently in production on his feature film “The Odyssey” set to be released late 2020.

He now works with Crooked Jaw Productions and has produced several feature films, both in Hollywood and in the Independent markets. Now transitioning to novels, Jordan’s talents began at the age of six, writing short stories and dabbling in animation. Soon after he took up theater and vocal performances, finding all his skills culminating into film. With a father who works as a videographer, Jordan helped cultivate the film production course at his high school, and that ambition continues on to this day.

Jordan recognizes that his gifts are God given, and he seeks to use them solely for His glory. While creating unique, exciting stories spanning multiple genres, he ensures the message points the audience to God, speaking His truths and teaching of His love. Jordan hopes in the near future to turn his passions into a viable, life-long career, serving God and entertaining the world.

You can find him on the socials and his book is available on Amazon.

Connect with Jordan!

@JordanLeach_Author – Instagram

Facebook.com/jordanmichaelleach

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