The year was 2010. I was starting my 6th year working at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. And, I had $72,000+ in student loan debt at the time.
The three phrases I was told were:
“Creatives don’t belong in ministry.” – Greg Allen
“You aren’t good at putting meat on the table.” – Cary Meyer
“You’re a coward.” -Jack Webster
Hearing those words completely broke me. It represented 5 years of hard work down the toilet. It was completely emasculating. I went though the following stages of grief after hearing them spoken to me:
- Complete shock
- Pain and embarrassment
- Bitterness and anger
- A really sad depression
- Gazelle-like intensity to change my life
I was resolved to prove them wrong and resolved to prove to myself that I wasn’t going to be confined to a life of debt and depression. I didn’t want to be a puppet dancing on a string making $40k a year for the rest of my life.
Those words spoken to me inspired me to build my OWN curriculum company in 2011. Creatives DO belong in ministry.
One year later, I paid off the entire balance of my student loans with one check ($72,000). Here’s your meat.
Two years later, I paid back the entire amount of severance pay I received when I resigned. I’m not a coward.
Eight years later, in 2018, I sold that company in a multi-million dollar deal with a company on the NASDAQ.
Greg, Cary, and Jack are all good guys and I deserved every bit of those words at the time. If I ever see any of them again I’ll give them a big hug, hand them a cigar, and say, “Your words were the catalyst for my success. Thank you!”
My wisdom for when people speak negative things into your life is this:
1. There’s usually truth to the negative things people tell you about yourself. Instead of getting upset at who said the words, focus on making yourself better not bitter.
2. Don’t surround yourself with people who always coddle you with their words…sometimes a good butt-kicking is exactly what you need to get motivated. Pain = growth. If everyone is constantly saying how smart, beautiful, and wonderful you are then something is wrong.
3. Let other people’s negative words be fuel for your fire. Let that fuel propel you like a rocket!