Jon Acuff – Liberty University Convocation
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Jon Acuff – Liberty University Convocation

December 8, 2019

>>DAVID NASSER: Our special guest today is
one of your very favorites. When we ask you to tell us who you want coming here to Liberty
University, Jon Acuff is always on top of that list. And so we’re excited about him
being a part of that. If you’re not familiar with Jon and just some of what he does, he
really helps in branding and in leadership management and honestly in just conversations
outside of the own hub, outside – he’s just a guy who shows up in the context of the Home
Depots of the world and the Staples of the world and Bose music and outside of our guy
who travels in those places and helps them with branding and with marketing, he’s also,
you know, a guy who’s a best-selling author. He’s constantly on CNN, on FOX News. More
than anything else, he’s just a brother in Christ who God has gifted with the ability
to be able to use humor and honesty and transparency to sometimes say stuff out loud that a lot
of us are thinking but are afraid to say out loud. And so, we really are given by God today
a great gift in Jon being here. One other thing I want to tell you before we put our
hands together for him is that he just celebrated yesterday 14 years of marriage to his beautiful
bride, Jenny. And so, congratulations, we’re honored to have you, brother. Come on, put
your hands together for Jon Acuff, everybody.>>JON ACUFF: I’m always a little nervous
when I speak at Christian organizations. Mic’s not on? Now? Now? We talked about this right
before. I said, “Remember last time I was here and the mic wasn’t on? That was so awkward,”
and then we thought of a way to do it again. Yay. And in that moment everybody does the
same sound guy neck crane where they look back at the soundboard and they’re like, “Why
do you hate Jesus? Why? We’re singing songs about Him but it’s a hot mic; you must hate
our Lord.” Whew, nervous. But I’m always nervous with Christian organizations ‘cause sometimes
they’ll tell me things like, “You can’t wear jeans. Jesus didn’t wear jeans.” And I always
think, “We don’t really know that. I mean, he wore a robe. For all we know, He was rocking
skinny jeans under that robe. We don’t know that.” It’s a mystery. God works in many ways,
but I’m not nervous today and here’s why: David made a 4/20 joke today. Like, I can
follow that. Nothing I’m going to say – I was like, “Oh, it’s all on the table. Here
we go.” Once that’s happened, you can say anything. And this is my fifth time to do
Convo here. Yeah, thanks. I’m excited ‘cause if you do it six times, your kids get to come
here for free, and that’s a rumor I heard and made up, so if you’ll put that on Yik
Yak and upload that that would help me out. ‘Cause once it’s on there it’s true, so
that’s, I mean, that’s gospel. That’s tech-gospel. So I’m excited to be back here. The last time
I was here, I told you the story about the woman I sat next to at church that brought
her own tambourine to play. Like, it was a pre-meditated tambourine from home, and she
was crushing the fast songs but it was the slow songs what was really awkward. Like we’d
be in minute 19 of Hillsong United’s Oceans, you know that song? We’d be in like chorus
42 and it’d be really quiet and then at the end she’d play us out, she’d put some tambourine
sizzle on it, just a little “cha!” And I thought, “That’s the most awkward thing that’s happened
at church,” but then I started to tell that story and people started to tell me other
stories. A friend of mine was at a Christian concert
once and somebody brought their shofar horn to play, like a ram’s horn from the Old Testament.
And I said, “Well did he at least play it at the right parts of the song?” And he said,
“Jon, what modern worship song do you know that is written with a ram’s horn part?” Like,
“wheaah”. And Christian concerts can be a little weird anyway because there’s always
that one dude that yells “Jesus” right into your ear. Have you ever been to a concert
where, like, the Jesus Scream Guy is there? Like that’s his thing and you’re kind of enjoying
a quiet song and he’s like, “Jesus!” And if there’s one name you can whisper in the world,
it’s His. He’s everywhere; He can hear you. You don’t have to make people’s ears bleed.
Jesus knows, you can say it in your heart, “Jesus.” He knows. And I thought, “Okay, maybe the ram’s horn
was the most awkward,” but then another friend told me he went on a men’s retreat, which
is already a little awkward, like a bunch of dudes together singing, like, we already
feel uncomfortable. And a guy next to him brought his own flute to play. So imagine
you’re on a men’s retreat and the guy next to you goes, “boop boop, boo-de-loo-de-looo.”
And don’t you want to know if that dude is married? Like, does he have a wife that gave
him that advice? The morning of he’s getting ready and he goes, “I’m thinking about bringing
the flute today, this week. I think I’m going to bring it this week.” And she goes, “You
should. You should.” If I know one thing about large groups of men, they love the flute.
Little bit of jazz flute for Jesus, oh! It’s fantastic. Like did he forget it and she chased
the car down and was like, “Don’t forget your flute!” and he’s like, “I love you, Proverbs
31!” We do weird things as Christians. There’s
funny, awkward things that happen. That’s what I’ve been writing about for the last
few years and it’s been fun to get to travel to colleges and talk about those weird things
and it’s been fun to help college students figure out what they’re next thing is going
to be, because college is this huge time of transition. If you’re a senior, if you’re
on the edge of finals, you have 17 days left, right? Isn’t that the number? I mean, you’re
on the edge, and there’s a lot of pressure when you’re in college ‘cause people in
their forties come up to you and go, “What’s next? What’s the plan? What’s the plan?” And
they act like they knew the plan when they were your age. We didn’t. A 45-year-old who
tells you they knew what they were going to do when they were twenty-one is lying. They
didn’t know, but they put all this pressure on you and then you read the news and the
news says 99 percent of college grads don’t get jobs after school, and the one percent
that do have to clean cobra pits at the zoo. And you think, “If that was my major, like
if I had gone to Liberty to major in cobra pit cleaning, that would be awesome. Just
getting bit in the face constantly by cobras all day.” And you guys probably have a cobra
pit, like every time I come here there’s a new building. Like, you have a tae kwon do
team and a bass team and they’re sitting together right now. I just expected, you know, David
to go, “Well, we have a bass pond. It’s staffed by robots. A lot of people are doing it now.
It’s cutting edge. We have robot bass, we don’t use real fish, we have – it’s this new
technology. Don’t worry about it, it’s by the golf course and the Snowflex.” And you feel this pressure about graduating
and it’s really hard right now and here’s part of the problem: right now, Boomers, the
generation above me – I’m Gen X – the generation above me, they can’t retire, they can’t afford
to retire so they’re not leaving the job market. So they’re not vacating jobs for my generation
so then my generation bumps into that. And then you guys graduate into me and it’s this
logjam, and you start to feel overwhelmed of, “What’s going to happen next for me? Where
am I going to go after this?” And maybe you don’t feel it yet as a freshman but the closer
you get to graduation, the more you start to feel that and it starts to feel overwhelming.
That’s what I want to talk about today because change, the changes you’re going to go through
in college and your career after don’t have to be overwhelming. There’s really only two
types of change you’re going to deal with in life. Here’s what they are. Let’s see.
Uh! There’s voluntary changes and there’s involuntary changes. A voluntary change is when you’re part of
the change, it happens on purpose. I think about the graphic designer I met who said,
“Jon, I realized that if I didn’t learn how to design for the Internet, I was going to
become a dinosaur. The industry was going to pass me by.” So he took online classes;
he plugged in to an online design community; he made a voluntary change. I think about the industrial designer my friend
worked with on the other end of the spectrum, involuntary. And his company said, “Hey, we
need you to learn AutoCAD,” this software. And he said, “I’m really good at sketching
things with hand, you know, I can keep up. I’m fast enough.” And for a minute he was,
but eventually technology overlaps you and he lost his job. He had an involuntary change. And this is how relationships work, too. When
you’re married, you and your wife might realize things aren’t going as great as they could
go and you decide to go to counseling and you make a voluntary change. Or you do the
Christian thing and you don’t talk and you don’t be honest and you use the Christian
f-word, which is “fine.” “How’s your marriage?” “Fine.” “How’s school?” “Fine.” “How are your
relationships?” “Fine.” And you ignore it and then one day she walks out and you experience
an involuntary change. But not all voluntary changes are good, and
not all involuntary are bad. We’ve all voluntarily stayed in the wrong major longer than we should
have. We’ve all had friends voluntarily date idiots longer than they should have. Right?
If you’re with one right now, don’t look at him and be like, “He’s talking about you.
You’re a dummy.” And then they break up and they go, “Why didn’t you tell me Mark was
a jerk?” And you say, “We did on every medium possible. We told you.”
And we’ve all had good involuntary things happen to us too, surprises that God brings
into our life. I think about my friend Dave Barnes, he’s a musician in Nashville – yeah
– and he had a song called “God Gave Me You,” and he recorded it; put it on his album, and
then Blake Shelton, the country musician, recorded it, and it went number one, which
changed Dave’s life forever. As a songwriter, that’s your dream. Do you know how Blake Shelton
found out about the song? He went to the airport and he rented a car and the person who had
rented it before him was a Christian and they had it preset to a station Blake never listened
to. So Blake gets in the car, turns on the car, and there comes Dave Barnes singing “God
Gave Me You,” and he thinks, “I’m in the middle of a marriage with Miranda Lambert; maybe
I should explore this song.” Do you think if you asked Dave Barnes, “How did that happen?”
he goes, “The first thing you’re going to want to do is go to Hertz, and you try to
guess what kind of car will Blake Shelton rent? He’s got long, lanky, country legs.
An Impala, maybe a mid-size, an F-150, something… And then you try to get a Christian before
him to rent it.” No, of course not! Did Dave work hard? Did he write the song?
Did he record the song? Of course! But didn’t something amazing and involuntary happen to
him? So you have to add this other line to the
equation, and the other line goes from negative to positive, and when you do that, you create
this plus sign of the four different transitions you’re going to go through. This is how you’re
career is going to go down, this is how you’re life will be played out. I don’t care if you’re
19 or 52; these are the transitions you’re going to experience. But you’re going to go through four transitions,
and the first one is a voluntary negative transition. That’s when something negative
that you voluntarily do happens. That’s 70 percent of Americans right now who don’t like
their jobs and don’t do anything about it. They get stuck. They bump up against the ceiling.
For you that might be you come to the end of a career ladder. When I was 32 years old,
I was a senior content designer and there was no Super-Duper Senior Content Designer
position against that. I was at the end of a ladder and I got stuck and I didn’t know
where to go next. You’re also going to experience negative involuntary
moments, moments that come out of nowhere, moments called “bumps.” This thing is super
sensitive. There we go. Much like me. This is what we call a little bit of ad lib when
things don’t go well. You’re going to go through a bump. You’re going to lose a job. An internship
you lined up is going to fall through. I talked to a student last night and she said,
“The person that was co-signing my tuition backed out and I have to move home tomorrow,”
and she didn’t see that coming. And there’s moments like that that you’re going to experience
where you go through a bump. What about the positive side of things? That’s
a jump, when you do something voluntarily that’s positive -where you move to a new city,
where you change majors, where you read a new book, where you start a blog. There’s
some sort of adventure God calls you on and you jump into it. And then the last one is when something positive
and unexpected happens to you. That’s an opportunity. Something you didn’t see coming, a surprise,
and they come in all shapes and sizes. I talked to a CEO of a bank in Benton Harbor, Michigan
and I said, “How did you become CEO?” And he said, “Well, I was a teller for three years
and then my manager above me got arrested for counterfeiting checks, so her job opened
up.” Do you think in his five-year plan he said, “Okay, work really hard for three years,
and then hopefully somebody goes to jail.” I love when people tell me their five-year
plan, I think, “That is adorable; you think it’s going to happen that way. How cute.”
Like if you feel that pressure right now, don’t. If you think you have to have a perfect
10-year plan, don’t. I think God giggles when we tell Him how the next 10 years are going
to go. We’re going to have moments like that. Now life would be easy, wouldn’t it, if we
just got to live on the positive side of things? If we just did really good decisions all the
time and had opportunities. Like we just made wicked awesome decisions. We’re going to eat
so much kale! I don’t know if kale is big in Lynchburg, but it is crushing it at the
Acuff house right now, and let me just be honest, kale chips taste exactly like regular
chips if you’ve never tasted a regular chip. Kale chips taste like burnt pages of a novel.
Like if you lit a textbook on fire and then ate that with some balsamic, that’s what a
kale chip – and as a parent, it’s one of these foods you have to pretend to like so your
kids don’t know it’s gross. And you go, “Oh, it’s so delicious, you can barely taste the
ashes. It’s – oh! Is that “War and Peace in my mouth? Oh, fantastic!” No, life would be easy if we only made great
decisions all the time. But you know that’s not how life goes. Your professors will tell
you that’s not how life goes. You’re going to spend time in all four of those. You might right now say, “Okay, you know,
in my major I’m having some jump moments, but I’m having some bump moments in my relationships,”
or “I’m stuck in this decision I’ve been trying to make.” You’re going to experience all four,
and so I’ve started to kind of look at careers and look at life and think, “What do you need
to navigate those?” ‘Cause it’s not about avoiding them, it’s about figuring out how
to navigate them and here’s what you need if you want to navigate them, four things:
relationships plus skills plus character times hustle. That’s what equals a career savings
account. Relationships, skills, character, and hustle, and that’s what equals a career
savings account. You see, the problem is most of us spend 18
years getting ready for college, getting ready for this experience, and then we graduate
and the next thing we get ready for is death and retirement. There’s this 40-year gap once
you graduate where people don’t lean in to their careers. We as a culture have accepted
that work should be miserable. There’s a reason we eat at TGI Friday’s, not TGI Monday’s.
There’s a reason Dover Books sold millions, there’s a reason The Office is such a popular
show, and maybe you’ve seen your parents struggle with that. You’ve seen a parent go to a job
they hated and they lived for the weekends but they don’t really live for the weekends
‘cause if you have a job you don’t like, Monday starts on Sunday. The most depressing
hour of the week for Americans is Sunday at noon cause that’s the first time Monday peeks
its head. And so, what if it didn’t have to be that
way? What if we could build career savings accounts that regardless of our job we had
the right investments in place, and the fun thing is none of those are revolutionary.
Like here’s something no one’s about to tweet: “@JonAcuff just said relationships matter.
Mind blown! Thank you for bringing him!” The word “skills,” – who has ever heard of
that word? No, they’re not that revolutionary. We all have them; just most of us have never
applied them this way. And you need all four. You need all four in your life because if
you only have three the whole thing falls apart. Say you have tremendous relationships, tremendous
skills, tremendous hustle, and your character takes a hit, you become Tiger Woods, and it
falls apart. And then we go – I love when commentators go, “It’s so weird he’s having
a hard time with golf.” Is it that weird? A bomb went off in one part of his life and
that has impacted every other part. Say you have amazing relationships, amazing
skills, amazing character, and no hustle. You become every NFL draft bust that had natural
talent in high school and natural talent in college but once they got to the big leagues
and they wouldn’t work hard, everybody else worked hard and they fell apart. Say you have amazing skills, amazing character,
amazing hustle, but no relationships. You become the emperor with new clothing: no one
can tell you the truth. We need all four, and you get to develop them
in college. Here’s the thing: I don’t want to meet you when you’re 25 and you’ve spent
seven, eight years in a job you hate because you were afraid to change your major cause
there was too much momentum. That’s the worst, is when I meet a 30-year old that says, “I
knew in college this wasn’t what I was supposed to do, but my mom really wanted me to do it,”
or “I was too far down the path so I was afraid to change and now I have $120,000 of debt
and the only way to get out of this debt is to keep working a job I hate.” I don’t want that to be your future. And here’s
the thing: I’m not concerned about some of these aspects. There’s some of this that I’m
not concerned about for you, but there’s some that I think we need to look at because once
you see that, you see that one of those impacts each of the zones and the transitions you’re
going to go through. Let’s look at skills. When you hit a ceiling,
skills are what you need to break through. When you get stuck, skills are the hammer
that helps you break through. I used to think it was my attitude, like I’ll just develop
a bad enough attitude and slam my head into the ceiling constantly. That did not go well
for me as a career choice. Skills are what you need. I went and spoke to a group of orthodontists
recently because they’re stuck. To be a successful orthodontist right now, you have to be good
at social media, email marketing, and running a business. Do you know what you don’t learn
at orthodontist school? Social media, email marketing, and running a business. They’re
getting stuck; they have to learn new skills. I’m the same way. I write a blog,,
and I asked a room full of high schoolers, “Who here reads blogs?” and not a single hand
went up. I thought, “Good to know.” And I said, “Well, what do you use?” and they said,
“We’re all on SnapChat.” And my friend, Carlos, tried to explain SnapChat to me. It was like
explaining a fax machine to my grandfather. I was like, “I don’t understand the videos
and the looping …” Like, David was talking about Yik Yak, I was like, “Is that a flavor
of ice cream they have at that cool ice cream store?” Like it’s got like a core of fudge,
‘cause I like things that have a core of fudge in general. That’s good. But I have
to learn something new or I’m going to get stuck, I’m going to become irrelevant, and
so will you. You have to continue to learn new skills. What about when you go through a bump? What
do you need then? You need your relationships. If you want to figure out who your friends
are, go through a negative, unexpected moment in your life. If you want to understand who
your friends are, go through something that’s unexpected and negative and what you learn,
which is hard, is that the people you thought would show up, the people you thought would
run to you, disappear. They ghost. The people you didn’t even know knew you existed show
up out of nowhere to lock arms with you and to say, “We’re going to get through this.
Like if you’ve gone through a bump, we’re going to get through this.” ‘Cause two things happen when you go through
a bump: you either break out or you break down. For some people rock bottom is a trampoline.
It’s the moment God launches a new adventure and says, “This is the new thing and here
are the people that are going to do it with you” and they lock arms with you and they
help you out of that bump. What about on the other side? Character is
what you need when you jump. That’s what you need the most because the reality is if you
change your major, your skills won’t be there yet. If you move to a new city your relationships
won’t be there yet. But who you are, the things you care about, your faith, your heart, jumps
with you. And it’s hard to jump ‘cause we want God to give us like a five-year plan,
don’t we? I had a friend, Brandon, say, “God is a light
unto our path, not a light unto our mile.” I want the mile view, I do. I wish I could
tell you here’s what the next three years are going to be like, but that’s not how
God works. There’s so many times we go, “God, I want a solution.” He goes, “I gave you a
Savior. They’re different.” I say, “Right, right, right, but if I could have a solution,
like a 10-step solution, that would be fantastic.” And He goes, “Or I gave you a Savior.” And
we have this back and forth – He doesn’t do the sing-song voice, I just do that. I add
that for Him, He’s like, “Thanks for the help.” It’s a thing we do. But you’re going to need your character. Then,
when you go through an unexpected positive moment, you need your hustle. Hustle is what
you need the most in those moments. You get this unexpected gift of a moment from God
and you get invited to work hard on it. You get invited to lean into it. Now the truth is there’s two of those I’m
not concerned about: the skills and character – you’re getting an amazing education at Liberty.
I’m not worried about that. The character, I’m not worried about that because character
at Liberty is more than just a word you put on a mug. Like, I’ve spent time here, I know
that’s true. I joke about sending my kids here but I would love to send my kids here,
and again it’s so awesome that they’re coming for free. The more I say it, like, the more
I – like I am manifesting truth. I think that’s how that works, right? You just speak it a
bunch and then God’s like “Here!” I think that’s – I don’t know. Pretty sure I read
that in The Message. That counts. Yeah. But I’m not worried about those two. What
I want to talk about, quickly, is relationships and hustle. I want to see how we can build
those in college, and here’s how I look at relationships. Relationships are just who you lock arms with
during an adventure. It’s simple and I’m not naturally good at relationships, I want to
be honest with you. Like even hugging and handshaking is kind of complicated to me.
Have you ever had that where like you go in for the hug and somebody else goes in for
the handshake and there’s just like this collision of limbs and your faces end up pressed? It’s
so awkward. I did that this morning, I’m pretty sure I had that moment with David like an
hour ago. And I understand hugging as a concept, like I know as a Christian, it’s the side
hug, you know, like hip to hip like Jesus would do when they took photos by the Sea
of Galilee, like “Yeah!” A couple of blessing pats maybe to let them really know. Like I
understand a front hug, like when you really go in for it you’ll even do a couple circles
of compassions, has anybody ever done that on your back? Where it’s like, “Jesus loves
you.” That’s when you know. I know you’re never supposed to add a leg
wrap to a hug, like that. That is universally frowned upon; take my word as an older gentleman.
I wear sport coats now; I know things. And by the way, I started wearing sport coats
because then you only have to iron this part of your shirt. I just, I want to be honest
with you. Like, that is a baller move right there, like once I figured that out I don’t
have to iron. It covers a multitude of ironing sins. It is the best. Throw on a sport coat;
people are like, “He’s fancy and smart.” But relationships are hard for me, but we
need them. The Bible talks about them constantly. Jesus had community. He had people that He
locked arms with. And there’s three types you’re going to deal
with in life. Here’s the three types of relationships: foes, friends, and advocates. Those are the
three types of people you’re going to run into. Let’s talk about foes first because they’re
sticky, they tend to get the best of our creativity and the best of our energy. A foe is just
somebody that makes your journey, your adventure difficult. And now I ran into this kind of
an idea about this when I was up in Massachusetts. I grew up in New England, and when you think
of New England you think of like, lobsters and fishermen, and like, sweaters and people
that don’t use “r’s”, like – And I was in Rockport, Massachusetts, which is this
little sea cove, yeah! I’m just going to continue to say obscure
things until only one person is yelling. I was at Rockport. I have a red house. “Whoo! Red houses! I have a red house!” Paint! But so I was in Rockport and there was this
pile of broken lobster traps, and they were bird – ha! There’s probably a broken lobster
trap club that just won the championships. They’re like, “Well, actually. They call it
‘Flames and Claws. We won, so thank you.” But so I saw all these birds flying in and
out of the traps, they were making nests in the traps, and I thought, “If you ask the
lobster if that was a good idea, what would they say?” They’d say, “You should never do
that. That trap is suicide. It’s death. It’s the worst place to go.” But for a bird it
made the most sense. A cat could never get into that cage. It was easy to build a nest. And sometimes in our lives, God gives us these
bird ideas, these bird dreams, and when we round up all the lobsters and ask them what
they think and they don’t understand. They can’t understand; they’re lobsters, and maybe
they don’t mean to be mean but they ask questions like, “How will that ever make money? Are
you still trying to be a photographer? Are you still trying to be a worship leader?”
And that word “still” is a sharp little dagger, isn’t it? Because what it says is, “’Cause
most people would have quit by now and realized it wouldn’t work. Most people would realize
they’ll be homeless in like an hour after graduation, have to ride the rails, and blow
glass professionally.” I don’t know; I’m just spit balling here.
And maybe a parent said that to you before. They’ve said, “Hey, are you still doing that
major?” And they’re a lobster, they can’t understand. It’s so weird that when God gives us something
we’re supposed to do, we then go ask a bunch of people who he didn’t ask to do that for
their opinion, and it doesn’t mean you don’t get counsel it just means that you can’t expect
somebody to a 100 percent understand what God’s given you because He gave it to you.
You’re the bird; they’re the lobster. So maybe the first thing for you with relationships
is you’ve got to forgive the lobsters. Maybe it’s about knowing somebody’s story.
Maybe for you it’s about understanding somebody else’s story and realizing they’re not a foe;
they’re still a person. We have this hater called “culture,” where thanks to the
Internet people aren’t individuals, they’re ideas, and it’s really easy to label somebody
and then go, “They’re different from me; they must be a hater.” But when you know somebody’s
story, it’s impossible to judge them when you take the time to really know their story.
Maybe that’s what you need to do with your foes, and – not that slide. Man, this – we
hate each other, me and this device right here. We’re in a fight right now, fella. But know somebody’s story. What about friends?
You’ve already seen that slide; pretend to act surprised, please. That would help my
ego. If you want better friends – hey! If you want better friends, give them your time.
It’s really easy right now to get too busy and fail to give people our most valuable
resource, which is our time. And it’s easy to do it because sometimes we hide in the
phone. Isn’t it easier to deal with a phone than
it is a person? A friend of mine said she likes texting because it’s more efficient,
but I don’t know that relationships are meant to be efficient. I think they’re meant to
be messy, and sometimes we hide with the phone. Have you ever seen somebody in a class where
like they don’t text up here they put it under the desk like they’re invisible? Like, nobody’s
– like, up here is rude; down here, invisible. It’s like a Harry Potter cloak of invisibility;
nobody can see that I’m texting. We see you. We do and we put relationships on pause, that’s
what my wife always says to me. Like if we’re having a conversation and I pick up the phone
she’ll go, “Oh, you just put me on pause. Let me know when you want to talk again.” Now imagine there’s no phone in that conversation
and I just reach over in the middle of a conversation and go, “I’d like to think about football
for about sixty seconds, boop!” and I tap her on the nose. How is the rest of that night
going to go for me? Like now we’ll have a real fight, not one of these fake Christian
fights where the sun doesn’t go down on your anger and you make out at the end. la la la.
Like a real fight where I go down on the couch and the sun goes down. And then the next morning
I’d have to come in and she’d be mad-dishwashing ‘cause that’s what spouses do and like just
scrub a pot instead of your head, like, “Er.” And then I have to come up and be like, “Hey,
baby. Love is patient.” Like, it’s awkward ‘cause I put her on pause, and sometimes
– have you ever gone to dinner with somebody and there’s one other person there and they
ignore you for the phone and you think, “Are you having dinner with somebody else right
now? Because I feel like we’re geographically in the same space but I don’t know where you
– are you tweeting? Are you live tweeting our dinner right now?” Like, “The appetizers
are late,” you know, “The waiter didn’t come to the table.” And all Christians – if you’re not a Christian
in the room I’m going to give you a secret about Christians. The secret way to get a
waiter to come to your table is to start praying. Like the minute you begin to pray they – “How
are you?” And then you have to be like, “Oh, Jesus, hold on. Oh, hey, bread please.” Christians
know that; that’s what we do. And do you pray before apps or after? That’s, you know, like
a pre-queso prayer or a post-? These are the things I think about. But if
you want friends don’t put them on pause. And then the last relationship, which we need
to hustle on our relationships, are with advocates. And an advocate is somebody that’s 10 years
ahead of you that can tell you the truth about where you’re headed. That’s ten years down
the road that can say, “Hey, I thought these things mattered. They didn’t. These are potholes,
be careful.” Andre 3000 from Outcast says that advocates and mentors have the cheat
codes and, yes, I just quoted Andre 3000 from OutKast. Again, once 4/20 is on the table, you’re like,
“Boom! I can do what I want.” But he said, “Mentors have the cheat codes.”
If you sat down to play a video game with somebody and they had played it for ten years,
you wouldn’t be very good at the video game but they could tell you the cheat codes and
say, “Here’s where you need to be careful.” And if you’re in your 30s or 40s, you need
to be in college students’ lives, because they can tell you where things are going.
If you want to stay relevant and understand where culture is going, pour into college
students. But we need advocates, we need people that’ll
challenge us, and here’s what they need to be: they need to be brave, respected, and
trustworthy. They have to be brave because they’re going to tell you some things you
don’t want to hear. I one time had a post on “Stuff Christians
Like” and it was about Donald Miller, the author of “Blue Like Jazz” and “Scary Close,”
and I ended the post by saying, “Who’s going to be the next Donald Miller?” And my friend
called me and said, “You ended it that way because you wanted people to say it was going
to be you.” And he was right. That was my ego getting loud. And I didn’t admit it at
first, like when somebody tells you something hard I usually pout for like a day or two,
I’m like, “You’re wrong.” Like, “I’m going to find a Scripture that proves it,” you know,
like, clearly the Bible is all about blogging so I would have had to really extrapolate,
like, “Eh, when Peter said this one thing I’m pretty sure that involved BlogSpot and
Google.” But he was right. So you need people to be
brave, that you respect, that you can trust. Because here’s what happens if you don’t have
people who can question you, here’s what I learned about leaders. Leaders who can’t be
questioned end up doing questionable things. Leaders who can’t be questioned end up doing
questionable things. You’ve worked for leaders like this, where
they say something in the board room, some idea, and you have to pretend it’s awesome
‘cause you can’t tell them “no” and they go, “Yeah, we’re going to do this thing.
We’re going to give away like bags full of cats. Like, people love cats,” and you’re
like, “That sounds great!” Like, burlap bag full of cats. Oh, a sack of cats – that’s
a great promotion for the university! Oh yeah, like, every freshman gets a bag of cats, like,
“Here are your cats. You can put it on that hill that’s here, like lay out on the hill
with your cats.” And then you go to the break room and you
go, “Sheila’s crazy. Somebody should tell her.” You go, “Not me, but somebody.” And that’ll happen to you if you don’t have
people in your life that can tell you the truth. And so I challenge you, build relationships.
Because here’s the thing, here’s what I want to kind of end with. It bothers me that when
I see an ichthys on somebody’s company or their business card, I think they suck at
what they do. Like it bothers me that culturally if you see a plumber and he says, “And I love
Jesus,” you go, “Oh, that’s – he’s not going to be good at that.” Like what if we, as a
Christian university, changed the way people look at faith, change the way we worked jobs,
changed the way they looked at college students. I mean, that’s what’s happening. The round
is a big change. The last time I spoke I was up against that
wall and they said, “Hey, we do things a little differently now,” and we’re changing and we’re
growing. What if you and I were part of that change? That when we graduated we went off
into the world and being Christian didn’t mean you weren’t good at your job, it meant
you were the best at your job as a reflection of our God. ‘Cause that’s what it’s about.
How are people going to see Jesus when you work? That’s what they’re going to see and
you’re going to go through transitions. You’re going to go through a do-over moment, I wrote
a whole book about it. You’re going to go through do-overs and here’s why I know: because
our God is not in the business of “better,” our God is in the business of “new.” He doesn’t
do self-improvement. He does new. He does new mercies. “The old is gone, the new has
come.” We have a God Who loves the do-over, and if
right now you’re in the middle of a decision- ‘cause college is all about decisions – let
me leave you with this: there’s no decision you can make that God can’t redeem. If you’re
facing a lot of different options, and you are as a college student, think about that
for a second. Is there a decision you can make that God can’t redeem the way He wants
it to go? Because if there is, like, if God’s ability to fulfill what He wants done in my
life is based on Jon Acuff’s ability to make the right decision, we’re all in trouble,
‘cause that’s a really small God. He’s going to redeem your decisions ‘cause
there’s going to be times when I get wise counsel and I pray and I’m patient and I still
pick the wrong thing. So you’re in the middle of a big transition,
and you’ve got a lot of transition ahead of you. But don’t forget we have a God who loves
a do-over moment, and we have a God who loves to redeem our stories. Let’s pray. Lord, thank You that rooms like this exist.
Thank You for the work and the life and the love and the laughter that’s going to explode
out of this building all across this campus and then from there at graduation explode
all over this world. Lord, I pray that You would give the students
in here energy to finish out their last few days, that You would give them courage to
walk into challenging situations, and that You would give them excitement to be a representation
of what You’re doing as they experience their next do-over, whether that’s changing a major
or a new internship or a conversation with a parent, that You would be the heart of that
and that we would lean into Your heart. Amen. Thanks, guys.

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