What Inspires You?

We all need a kick in the butt sometimes…a little inspiration, that thing that sparks a dream, ignites passion, pushes hopeyou past procrastination, or causes you to light up inside. Sometimes it’s a speech or sermon, a scripture, a person, a book, song, album, or another work of art that stirs something inside you. We all need it, and we know when we come across it. It’s often small but profound in its impact. So if you feel stuck, if you feel lost, if you feel like life is passing you by, look for some simple inspiration. Here are five things that have inspired me in recent years:

The Book of Acts

Is there anything in history that documents a more significant, purpose-driven movement that turned the world upside down and still resonates today? Acts is the birth of the Church, Christianity in its purest form. It’s the ultimate grassroots movement. It shows what a group of people can do when they’re united, selfless, follow God, and empowered by His Spirit. It’s inspiring to see how the Gospel was spread and how a small group of regular men and women literally changed the world.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Don Miller

This is one of my favorite books by my favorite author. Any book Don Miller writes inspires me, but this one will help bring clarity and meaning to your life. You start by asking if your life was a book, would anyone want to read it, or would they put it down after a few chapters because of boredom? The book helped me find meaning in my life by simplifying what I wanted. Most importantly, it helps you realize conflict is an inevitable part of life, but it carries an important purpose — character development — therefore, we should embrace it.

“Live Forever” by Shad

Music is inspiring, whether for the gym or just life. This song by my favorite artist, Shad, always gets me thinking and focused.

My Past

There are plenty of things in our past that we’d like to forget. We all have regrets. We’ve all made mistakes, struggled with sin, wasted money, said stupid things, etc. But when I look back at my life (which is much easier to do when you keep a journal, so I highly recommend it) I focus on how much I’ve grown and how far I’ve come from the guy I used to be. It makes me grateful for the progress I’ve made and inspires me to keep pushing forward because I won’t be the person I am today 10 years from now. I’ll be better.


Nothing inspires me more than seeing someone using his/her gifts or taking a risk to follow a dream. These people are models of success, exuding inspiration. They show that it can be done. That a risk is worth it. That if there’s an opportunity for them in this world, there’s also one for me. They are people living life, in the game, taking full advantage of it. Their lives push me to do the same.

Hopefully you find some inspiration from this short list of things that have inspired me. Feel free to share what has inspired you in the comments section below or on your own social media feed. I’m sure others can use some inspiration as well.

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How Fear Helps Us Dream

By Kevin Howell

Discovery Channel

Discovery Channel

This past Sunday night was a slow TV night. The NBA Finals were over, the Sunday Night baseball game on ESPN was in a rain delay so, unless you’re into Lifetime or Oprah’s OWN network, there wasn’t much to watch.

But lo and behold, the Discovery Channel came through with a can’t-miss/can’t-bear-to-watch event — Skywire.  Daredevil tight-rope walker Nik Wallenda was attempting to walk on a tight wire across the Grand Canyon. Yes, you read that right. And he was doing it without a harness or safety net… on live TV. I wasn’t sure how the FCC would approve the live airing of a man plummeting 1,500 feet to his death at the bottom of the canyon.

The walk was a quarter of a mile long and, yes, he made it. Throughout the walk, Wallenda, who had a mic on, was praying to Jesus — constantly. I’m no theologian and I don’t judge others’ relationships with God, but there has to be better ways to bring glory to God. Sure, he was exalting Jesus on national television, but at the same time scaring the hell out of everyone else. Anyway….

Wallenda is a pro at this stuff (he did the same stunt across Niagara Falls). His family has tight-roped walked for generations. He said he dreamed of walking across the Grand Canyon since he was a teenager.


Wallenda’s stunt helps illustrate the unique relationship between our fears and dreams. Often times these opposing factors are quite related. What we fear most points to what we desire most. If you are afraid of being alone, your dream probably has something to do with family or community. If you are afraid of failing, you likely dream of success.

courtesy of fearsvsdreams.com

courtesy of fearsvsdreams.com

The organization To Write Love On Her Arms, which supports those struggling with self-injury, suicide and depression, started a campaign called “Fears vs. Dreams” where it asks people to write down their biggest fear and their greatest dream. The purpose is for people “to feel less alone in reading the words of others.”

One of my biggest fears is embarrassment and humiliation. Conversely, my greatest dream is to impact and encourage many lives through my words (both written and spoken). With the dream comes the risk of embarrassment, the risk of humiliation. But our greatest dreams will never come to fruition until we conquer our biggest fear.

Nik Wallenda said he doesn’t fear doing crazy stunts. He said you can decide whether you want to fear something or not. Though I wouldn’t even tight-rope walk 15 feet in the air, Wallenda chose to walk 1,500 feet high. That was his dream, and he conquered fear to do it. What’s your biggest fear? It will likely point you toward your greatest dream and let you know what you have to overcome to get it.

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. … the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.” –Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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4 Keys to Finding Passion and Purpose

We all desire to do what we love for a living. We want to be passionate and purposeful about our lives, both professionally and personally. But getting to that point isn’t easy, partly because we aren’t always sure of our passion and purpose.

photo courtesy of employed by my vision

photo courtesy of employed by my vision

Darius Brown discovered his purpose and now spends his time helping others navigate through life to find their purpose. Three years ago he started Employed By My Vision, a business that helps young people discover their passion and make a career out of it.

His road there wasn’t easy though, nor was his path to discovering purpose always positive. At age 19, living in a three-bedroom apartment with eight other people, Darius was frustrated with seeing his family struggling. So he started selling drugs and embezzling money. Fortunately, he was able to remove himself from that lifestyle and use creative gifts and abilities to start businesses and live a “purpose-filled and passionate life.” Here are some tips he provides for living your purpose passionately.

Don’t look for something your passionate about, find passion in what you’re already doing.

Darius said he didn’t know his passion until it became his passion. Even in a mundane job working at a bowling alley, he realized he was bringing in a lot of money to his employer but not seeing the financial benefits. This dissatisfaction helped birth an entrepreneurial spirit in him. Which eventually led to him discovering his purpose.

“There’s a thin line between passion and purpose,” Darius explains. “Passion is something that grips your heart. But what is the purpose of it? It’s a reason why you do it. Purpose comes with assurance. What’s the reason behind it? Why do you want it? When you marry those two, you have purpose.”

Know your identity, your ability, and your “why” in life.

Darius says: “Purpose starts with identity. A shattered identity can’t handle the weight of purpose. You have to know who you are in God. When you figure that out, you’ll have that confidence to say ‘this is my purpose.’ It takes a level of confidence and identity to discover a purpose.”

“Purpose is a ‘why’ and an ability. Without a ‘why,’ nothing makes sense, nothing is valuable, nothing matters. There’s no fulfillment without a why, but there’s no movement without an ability to make this ‘why’ come to life.

“Jesus could’ve had the greatest heart, but without the gift to heal, preach, empower people, He wouldn’t be as effective. He had that gift to bring the ‘why’ to fruition.”

Darius explained that understanding the “why” in your life empowers you. When he was selling drugs and embezzling money, he was driven by the desire to improve his financial situation. “My whys weren’t good, but I had to grab a why,” he said. “Jay-Z had a song back then that said: ‘We ain’t doing crime for the sake of doing crime. We doing crime because we ain’t doing fine.’ That was why. I ain’t doing fine, so I got to do this. You have to find a righteous why to be empowered. Then you can find a gift to bring that why to pass. As believers, we don’t use our gifts and abilities just to do them; we use them because we love God.”

Your identity, the “why” in your life, and your abilities are the keys to discovering your purpose.

It’s never too late to live your purpose and passion.

Sometimes we feel as we get older, we’ve missed out on opportunities to pursue our dreams and purpose has passed us by. But Darius explains that it’s never too late to pursue purpose.

“God redeems time,” he says. “The time you lost, you messed up on, God can redeem time and He awakens it. As long as you’re living, you have a chance to live out purpose.”

He describes a time when he was speaking in Pittsburgh in 2011, and a 72-year-old man came to the altar to get prayed for. In tears, he told Darius he wanted to know his purpose. Next to him was a 9-year-old boy who wanted to get prayed for to know his purpose. God doesn’t discriminate based on age. He continues to use those willing to be used, no matter how much time has passed.

Know who God’s calling you to be and what He’s calling you to do, and have confidence in that.

“Purpose is so far from arrogant,” Darius says. “God gave us purpose to do something for His people. Purpose is telling God: ‘I’m going to join you in what you already doing for your people.’”


Darius Brown is the founder and president of Employed By My Vision, Inc., certified life coach, and author of Forgive Me, Success: Life Guide 101. For more information visit www.employedbymyvision.com

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What’s Stopping Your Dream?

By Yodit Kifle

photo by matthew avignone via compfight

photo by matthew avignone via compfight

We all have dreams. If I were to ask you what your dream was, you may be a little hesitant to tell me. You may think it was too far-fetched or too trivial to share. Or you may just feel like it’s just a dream and it will never manifest so what’s the point, right?


One of my strongest passions is to encourage people to truly believe God when He tells us who we are in Him. I fear that there is an air of mediocrity that has settled in the hearts of the children of God. I fear we have said this is all and there is nothing more. I fear we have come to a place where we stopped taking the Word of God for what it really is saying and what we can truly do during this lifetime. I know I’m speaking to myself too and I want to shake it off.

God has given us the capability to do far more than we can imagine through Him. He has given us the creativity to influence and change this world through the talents and gifts he has given each of us.


Scripture tells us that without a vision, the people perish. I fear more and more, we are turning into a visionless generations. It seems like we have lost vision for the purposeful life God has given us. Rather, we have allowed the futile things of this world to choke us and keep us locked in bondage. We have allowed insecurity, fear, and doubts keep us from reaching deeper levels with Him so we can walk in deeper levels of our destiny. It saddens me when we fall to the schemes of the devil to keep us moving into the greatness God has called us into.  Understand that we don’t need to apologize for desiring to be great because it’s an innate longing God has given us. We just have to be willing to let Him lead us there.


This greatness includes the dreams God has given you. What kinds of passion has God laid in your heart? What’s keeping you from pursuing them? What’s keeping you from walking out the gifting that God has given you?

You want to be a singer and you can sing? Why aren’t you singing? You want to be a doctor and go travel to countries all over the world and help those who don’t have the resources? Why aren’t you? You want to start your own non-profit organization? Why haven’t you? You want to be the best chef? Why aren’t you?

I read a book called, Put Your Dreams to the Test by John C. Maxwell, an amazing Christian author with such a gifting for encouraging people to reach for their dreams and to pursue excellence in their lives. I can’t describe how instrumental this book had been in helping me really pursue my ministry, WITHIN, and in the way I have approached it. This is my dream (along with many others), but I know this is what God has given me and I dream big things for it.

I have been greatly encouraged by this book and I want to encourage you to really walk out the dreams that God has given you. It’s often the thoughts about how to get from where we are to where we want to be that seem so daunting and we already want to give up.

Be encouraged that where there is a will, certainly there is a way. God wants us to have a vision for every part of our lives. Visions for our relationships, our schooling, our gifting, our careers — everything. He doesn’t want us to take them casually, but rather with focus and intent in making them the best they can be.

So take time to revisit a dream that you have, a place you want to reach, a goal you want to accomplish. And don’t make excuses as to why you can’t start today. If anything, know that people are waiting on you.

Here is a quote that spoke volumes to me and really opened up my eyes:

“There are those of us who are always ABOUT to live. We are waiting until things change, until there is more time, until we are less tired, until we get promotion, until we settle down — until, until, until. It always seems as if there is some major event that must occur in our lives before we BEGIN living.” — George Sheehan

If you want to achieve your dream, you can’t afford to be this type of person. Until will never happen, so start now.


Know that the secret of getting ahead is getting started — so get started on that dream. Do one thing daily that will help you get closer and closer. Surround yourself with people who will propel you towards your dreams rather than slow you down. You need those people to speak life into you when you feel like giving up.

So I pray that those of you who have sat on your dream too long will rise up today and say “no more!” God has given you this desire and dream and you will not be discouraged. Because until “until” disappears from your mouth, nothing will get done.

Be encouraged. God wants you to pursue what He has put within you. I encourage you to get the book that I mentioned and really study it and let it help you get to where you want to get.


Yodit Kifle is a young woman passionate about God and the things of God. She started a ministry called WITHIN — www.thewithingroup.ning.com — focused on connecting young women to embrace sisterhood and encouraging them to become all they are called to be.

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You’re Not Fine; You’re Amazing

By Kevin Howell

“I’m fine.”

photo by randi butler via compfight

photo by randi butler via compfight

It’s the most common response and sentence we hear every day. We even say it… all the time. But what does it mean? Is there any substance to it? Or is it something we just automatically say? Does it really explain our current state?

If so, it’s a sad picture of our lives.

By purpose, we have been intricately drawn onto the canvas of Earth, at this time, for a reason. And the best way we can describe our existence is just “fine?”

Fine is symbolic of the mundane life. A life lacking adventure, lacking meaning, lacking fun. It’s what we say when everything is going according to routine. There’s nothing wrong with routine. There’s nothing wrong with working 9 to 5. Established patterns are important to balance, discipline, and sanity in life. The problem isn’t the routine, but the mind-set we adopt because of the routine.

The “normal” routine often drags us into a “normal” life. And really, nothing about you or me is supposed to be normal. Each of us has been made so unique, we shouldn’t fit into normal. We shouldn’t look at our existence as normal. We shouldn’t take life normally.

If we really think about it, life is staggering. Like, freaking awe-inspiring. I visited the Bodies Exhibit in New York years ago, which features all parts of the human anatomy and describes the details of how every nerve, vessel and muscle interacts. You won’t believe the complicated process happening in my body just for me to type this sentence… or how much work your brain is doing just to simply read this sentence… or how everything in your body functions just so you can breathe. Our bodies are far more complex than any computer. We’re walking miracles.

King David wrote in Psalm 139:14 we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Most of us have heard that scripture before, but we take it as something “normal” as well. Fearfully, in the text, means to revere, or had in reverence. I don’t think we totally comprehend that because most of us — unless your name is Beyoncé, LeBron, or Barack — have never been revered. We don’t always get it at home, we don’t get it at church, and we sure as hell aren’t revered at work. But, when you were crafted in your mother’s womb, you were revered. Even more staggering, you were revered by God Himself and all of Heaven.

So how are you normal? How can your life be just fine?

You and I are more than just fine. We’re amazing. I know, it sounds cocky, but think about it: Wouldn’t you describe anything God created as amazing? How many times have you in awe of a beautiful sunset, trees blooming in spring, the colors of autumn, a snow-covered canvas, or a mountain view? All those natural scenes we describe as amazing. Yet, as beings created in His very own image — His greatest work of art — we don’t afford ourselves the same description.

You’re amazing. Accept it.

But do our lives match our dopeness? Are we living in a manner worthy of our creation? I can’t say what that means for you, but for me it’s…

  • living my purpose by serving others
  • creating things (art, businesses, projects, ideas)
  • being a leader
  • letting people know they matter
  • doing my best with every opportunity
  • being myself with no shame

Change your mind-set. Your life, what you’re doing — or what you should be doing — is more than fine. It’s laced with greatness — from simple acts to ambition efforts. Approach it with the awe, reverence, and dopeness in which it was created.


This article was inspired by this TED talk by Mel Robbins below. She also has a book, Stop Saying You’re Fine. I haven’t read it, so if you buy it and it sucks (though I doubt it), don’t blame me. Enjoy the video.


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Are You Wasting Your Potential?

By Yodit Kiflewasting potential

Some of my favorite movies are ones like Freedom Writers and To Sir with Love —movies that reveal the power of potential and what unfolds when the right people believe in you and help you see the greatness that lies dormant within you. I love seeing when these characters that come from a lifestyle of poor choices recognize their potential and act on it.  It always does something to my heart when I see someone come alive to the endless possibilities within them because that’s when they’re unstoppable!

I get frustrated when people who have unbelievable potential choose not to act on it, let alone recognize it. You can’t understand how they don’t see it. Unfortunately, they continue to make decisions that lead to confining situations. As much as we want to help them see they are selling themselves short of amazing things they are capable of doing, nothing we do or say can get them out of their complacency.

Wasted talent. Wasted potential. Wasted calling.


I’m reminded of a man in scripture whose life, as extraordinary as it looked, is often considered pretty tragic because he never came to fully comprehend the greatness on his life. So he was easily swayed to make decisions that didn’t match the powerful calling in him.

His name was Samson. Since his birth, God ordained a special strength and anointing on his life. With this calling came a special mandate that he could not drink wine, eat unclean things, or a razor could never touch his head. He was to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines (Judges 13).

Special talent. Special potential. Special calling.

His life was anything but ordinary. God would cause strength to come over Samson so one minute he was tearing apart lions with his bare hands and the next minute he was killing more than 1,000 people on his own. Nonetheless, with all the strength and anointing he possessed, Samson chased after things that didn’t reflect the powerful calling on his life.

When he knew he wasn’t supposed to eat unclean things, Samson deliberately chose to eat honey from the carcass of a lion, hiding this act from his parents. Then, one of his greatest weaknesses — women — ended up becoming the reason for his demise. He fell in love with a woman named Delilah who enticed him to give up the secret to his strength, which was in his hair. Her consistent asking annoyed him so much that he decided to tell her, and he ended up losing all of his strength. Sadly, he was taken captive by the Philistines and eventually died without truly fulfilling the calling on his life (you will have to read Judges 13-16 for the details)

Wasted talent. Wasted potential. Wasted calling.


You see, Samson didn’t comprehend the magnitude of what God had called him to do with the greatness in Him. He neglected to see all that power in him had nothing to do with him but it was about the power of God invested in his life.  Instead, Samson made it about himself and chased the small rather than comprehending the greatness. By small, I don’t mean in quantity; rather, I mean in the lack quality behind the purpose, the lack of substance behind what he chased.

How do you think God feels when He looks down at His creation only to find us mishandling the greatness He’s put within each of us? He must be sad when we can’t get ourselves to embrace the greatness He’s put inside of us. It’s the same frustration we feel when we see people mishandle their potential.

Do you realize when He made us fearfully and wonderfully, He imparted a small piece of His glory in us? When we choose to live our great, purposed lives with small intentions, we misrepresent the plans and purposes of God for our lives. Some of us refuse to believe how special we are. We don’t want to understand we are the very conduits of God’s glory. Just like Samson, with all that greatness in us, we chase after small. Small thinking. Small decisions. Small people. Small vision. Small responsibilities. Sadly, no matter how small of a thing we chase, the ramification of our decisions bear heavily on our lives. Samson’s small chasing led to his death.

The greatness that is within you has no power outside of God, so what are you doing with it? His greatness is reflected in your talents, your gifting, and your calling. Think how you are handling them because we are accountable for it. Are you chasing small or are you living within His greatness? I dare you to allow yourself to embrace it.

Yodit Kifle is a young woman passionate about God and the things of God. She started a ministry called WITHIN — www.thewithingroup.ning.com — focused on connecting young women to embrace sisterhood and encouraging them to become all that they are called to be. Connect with her: withinministry@gmail.com

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Working from the Soul

By Kevin Howellalabama shakes

I was watching Late Night with Jimmy Fallon a couple of weeks ago, mainly because Charlie Sheen was a guest and I wanted to see if he was still loco. A blues-rock group called the Alabama Shakes was the musical guest and they closed the show with a great performance. Lead singer Brittany Howard’s performance was gripping. She poured her heart and soul into that song.

There’s something about watching an artist give it his/her all on stage. You not only see the passion they have for the music, but also the intimate connection their souls have with the lyrics. They sing, rap, or play like something deep inside them needs to get out. And when it does, the beauty of it is shared with the world.


Sometimes we feel like artists are the lucky ones. As though their craft is the only true labor of love.  We’re not as captivated watching an accountant do our taxes — it’s just not the same. But the truth is, there is beauty, love, passion, and excellence found in all work; it’s just not as overt as an on-stage performance. The Apostle Paul hinted at this in his letter to the Colossians. Addressing servants, he said: “Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily from the soul, as something done for the Lord and not for men…” (Col. 3:23, Amplified).

Your current profession or task — whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or an ER surgeon — is a gift from God. It may not be as sexy as playing guitar for The Roots, but it’s no less significant, and your work is no less beautiful. The key to making your work meaningful, to birthing something beautiful from your labor is the source of your inspiration.

For me, there are two keys to keeping the Lord in mind when I work:

1. Gratitude
We must be grateful we have a job, or even if you’re not employed, grateful for having physical ability to perform a task. Gratitude for what the Lord has gifted you to do inspires you to work diligently. I recall a friend telling me about a recovering drug addict who, after months of job searching, got a job at a retail store. That guy worked so hard sweeping the floors he’d be dripping with sweat. He was so grateful for employment, he gave his all in gratitude.

2. Work from the soul
To work from the soul, as Paul wrote, is not just to utilize our talents and abilities, but to dig deep within and give of ourselves. To throw all of whom you are into your work. The best artists do this, and that’s why they are inspiring. How inspiring can we be if we offer our very selves in our vocations?

Author Joseph Nassal put it best in this passage on St. Joseph:

“Joseph the Worker left his signature in the sawdust of his carpenter’s shop just as surely as farmers leave their signatures on the fields they plow, as potters leave their signatures on the vases they create, cooks on the meals they prepare, writers on their books… massage therapists on the bodies they touch, teachers on the students they teach, janitors on the floors they sweep… All work is sacred when the work is accomplished with great love.”

Your work is sacred. It can inspire and produce beauty no matter how technical or mundane it seems. As long as you work at it from your soul, doing it unto God, with great love.

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Die to Your Dream, Live for a Cause

By Kevin Howellcause

From a young age, many of us were told to follow our dreams. Parents, teachers, pastors, and mentors told us we could do anything we set our minds to do. We admire dreamers. Some of the greatest icons and innovators were those who dared to dream. Their success inspires us.

I’ve always been a dreamer — driven by a wild imagination and big goals. But in recent years, my dreams have faded. I still have aspirations, but those big dreams of accomplishing something grand have waned. Earlier this year, I wrote a question in my journal: “What are your dreams? Months later, the page remains blank. This was disconcerting at first, but I started to wonder if God really wants us to pursue dreams. I wondered if the cliché of “follow your dreams” was a worldly ambition Christians let seep into their mind-sets and become a part of faith culture.


For the most part, dreams are selfish. I know it’s not popular to say, but it’s true. Most of our dreams are about us pursuing a goal and us being successful. True, others may benefit from our accomplishments, but the core ambition is our own success.

I recently heard Matthew Barnett, pastor and founder of The Dream Center in LA, say: “When you die to your dream of being a success, you can start living for a cause.” At that moment, it all made sense. I no longer had dreams to pursue because a greater cause had taken over in my life. A dream is about your success; a cause is about helping someone else succeed (click to tweet). A dream is something you work to get; a cause is something you live to give. My dominant motivation in life, at this time, is serving and mentoring. Yes, I still have personal and professional aspirations, but that’s not what permeates my mind or gets me going in the morning.

Even in the Bible, God’s people were motivated by causes, not dreams. Before David challenged Goliath, he declared: “Is there not a cause?” Jesus didn’t live His dream; He lived for the cause of redeeming mankind. The Apostle Paul didn’t dream of being a great teacher and leader, he lived for the cause of converting the Gentiles.


Ultimately, dreams will fade. They run out. After you accomplish them, that’s it. You have to find a new dream, some other aspiration to pursue. A cause lasts a lifetime, and beyond. As Tommy Barnett, Matthew’s father, mentioned in the foreword of his son’s book, The Cause Within You:

“If you’re living for something that’s not your cause, you may reach your dream, but it’s going to feel disappointing, like a letdown. Your fun is in climbing, in pursuing your cause. And the reason the cause makes your life is that you never run out of it. You will always have something to give.

If you haven’t had a dream to pursue in a while, relax, that’s a good thing. There’s probably a cause right underneath your nose, something that’s been nagging you about the world around you that you can help solve. And if you are busy chasing your dreams, I suggest you stop and surrender your dream to live for a cause.

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For more on living for a cause instead of your dream, check out Matthew Barnett’s book The Cause Within You. I haven’t even read it yet, but it’s on my summer reading list.

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Redefining Passion

holstee manifesto

By Kevin Howell

What is passion? Is it emotion? Is it a deep concern for something? Is it caring sincerely? And if it is any of those things, then what am I passionate about? And what does it look like? Is it necessary, and is it effective?

These are the questions that rifled through my mind after I watched this inspirational video (the Holstee Manifesto). I love the message in the clip. It’s urging us to enjoy life, and live it to the fullest by letting go of inhibitions. It resonates with me because I’ve been feeling that message deep in my soul, especially this year. But the last words on the screen made me stop and think: “Live your dream and share your passion.”

I had to wonder: “What am I passionate about?” I always associated passion with emotion, and I’m not the most emotional person. I’m pretty reserved, particularly in public. Everything from my mannerisms to my conversation is laid-back. If I were to stir up emotions for a cause, I’d be inauthentic, opposing my nature and conflicting with my character. But I know passion is necessary. It can be a driving force to get things accomplished. And most leaders display that trait — at least the ones that are most effective.

That’s because passion is infectious. People are drawn to it. When someone is emotional about a cause, he or she demands your attention. But the truth is just because someone is passionate about something doesn’t mean it’s worthy of your attention. Emotion for an empty cause just makes a lot of noise, but never sparks movement or change.

Looking up some definitions, I found the definition of passion different from my connotation. Yes, it does involve emotion, but it’s more than that. It’s an intense, driving conviction. It’s a strong devotion to an activity, object or concept. It’s an object of deep interest. Passion is more about what you believe in and have conviction for, and less about a display of emotion. If that’s the case, then, though I may lack in emotion, I definitely don’t lack in passion. I have strong convictions and devotions. I’m passionate about God and His command to love others. I’m passionate about following dreams. I’m passionate about embracing diversity. These are things that I believe in. More importantly, these are things I live because true passion drives action.

Take the Kony 2012 movement for example (which you have to have heard about unless you live in hiding with Joseph Kony or you don’t have Facebook). The people from Invisible Children were so passionate about the tragedy of child soldiers that they did something about it. Whether you agree with their tactics or not, they are bringing attention to a worthy cause because their passion drove them to action.

So what does passion look like? It doesn’t have to be emotional, but it does drive you. It drives you to action. Is it necessary? Absolutely. As author Stephen W. Simpson put it: “You need at least one thing that gives your life excitement and meaning. It should be something that feels like yours, not what someone else gave you or told you to do. … you need something that feels important and thrilling, worth risk, sacrifice, and hard work.” I believe we all have that something; we just have to be willing to embrace it. You don’t have to be emotional about it, but you should be driven by it. And when we share it with others, we awaken passion in them. So what’s your passion?


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