We all have passions. We have causes we believe in, hobbies we enjoy, and dreams we hope to accomplish. And you know what? All of those things have been placed in your heart by God as a part of the fabric of who you are. They are one of the many things that make you a unique creation and a precious child of God. Passions are important, and if you follow yours, some amazing things can happen.
Jeremy Cowart’s passions changed the world
Jeremy Cowart, my latest guest on Real Hope with Glenn Cranfield, has followed his many passions to some pretty unbelievable results. We often hear the phrase “a man of many talents”, and while Jeremy is certainly talented, a more accurate description would be to call him a man of many pursuits. Which, if you ask me, is more important. Talent can be developed, but the work ethic to get up and do — that is often the difference.
Jeremy began his career as a photographer and quickly became a very successful one. He was named the “Most Influential Photographer on the Internet” by Huffington Post, Forbes and Yahoo in 2014 and has continued to earn awards and accolades in the years that followed. He then turned his eye toward art, then became an author, then a renowned speaker, and eventually an entrepreneur. If Jeremy Cowart has an idea, he goes after it. I can think of fewer more admirable traits a person can have.
This article would get very long very quickly if I went over every single one of Jeremy’s projects. However, I find his work uplifting and inspiring and I’d like to share with you just a few of the highlights in the hope that you’ll feel the same.
One of Jeremy’s first endeavors was Help-Portrait, a movement for photographers, makeup artists, and hairstylists to give a portrait to someone in need. It was a simple idea that started in a Nashville warehouse but went on to become a global movement that has resulted in over 380k pictures being taken in 67 countries. He’s also produced SEE University, an online vault of instructional photography videos that cover everything from lighting to how to manage a photography business.
His latest project might be his most exciting one yet. The Purpose Hotel (whose location is coincidentally planned to be right across the street from Nashville Rescue Mission) is a for-profit hotel where everything is connected to either a cause or a need. Each room sponsors a child, the blankets are sewn by survivors of human trafficking, even the coffee beans come exclusively from ethically-sourced growers. It represents a connection of all these different causes, and hotel guests support all of them simply by booking a room. Incredible.
Pursuing your passions
If Jeremy has shown us anything, it’s that anyone can follow their passions to make a difference in the world. As you go out to follow yours, I would like to encourage you and leave you with some wisdom I’ve gained from my years of working where my heart is.
Setting the right expectations is one of the most important aspects of any new venture. If you believe your actions can’t make an impact then you’ll feel discouraged from even trying. No doubt there are many good ideas out there that never came to fruition because people didn’t believe enough in themselves. And, of course, we are never acting solely on our own, are we? I’m reminded of a verse you probably know by heart, Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
On the other side of the coin, don’t let unmet expectations harm your drive to make a difference. Not every project can catch fire and be implemented in 67 countries. Nor does it need to in order to be successful. Big things take time, and you have to give yourself permission to fail, to learn, and to grow. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for frustration that can quickly lead to burnout. And then you may entertain the idea of quitting, which would be an even greater disappointment. For many of the things God asks of us, the journey is every bit as important as the finish line, if not more so.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to walk this tightrope between setting big goals and embracing the process is to keep my focus on the people I’ve been called to lift up. Every single person you feed, clothe, hug, or help has an eternal impact.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40
If Jeremy had only taken one portrait in that Nashville warehouse and given one person a moment of joy it would have been worth it. If you come to the Mission and brighten the day of just one of our guests then your time will have been well spent. When gauging your success in making a difference, the magic number is one. Showing God’s love just one person at a time.
I said it once, but it bears repeating: your gifts are God-given, and he’s given them to you for a reason.
Do you feel called to be a leader?
The world always needs more leaders. After reading this, if you feel a tugging at your heart, that small voice is saying “this is for you”, then I can’t encourage you enough to listen to it. Following your passions is hard, but anything worth doing is. My best advice to you is to set the right expectations, remember we all start out with small steps and to pray without ceasing that God gives you the boldness and the patience to see His calling through.
If you’d like some additional encouragement, go take a listen to Jeremy Cowart’s episode of Real Hope. Hearing him speak is bound to get you excited. It’s available on whatever platform you listen to podcasts.