Great Artist Steal: Our Mantras

Direction is important if you hope to go anywhere and learn in the process. To help guide us (aside from the Holy Spirit), we like to have a set of mantras. These mantras help guide the way we live our lives, almost like a mission statement or vision for ourselves, in leadership, in missions, and in our personal faith. They are relatively simple, yet powerful.

Lindsey in blue, Tess in purple.

Good artist copy, great artist steal [Pablo Picasso]
There is no new stories, just new ways to tell them. Work smarter, not harder. There is no use in trying to reinvent the wheel. All that jazz. Nothing I say or do is original because I have been influenced by so many and for that I am grateful. This is why Pablo Picasso makes the list for one of my personal mantras. If someone has a great idea, use it and push your group, self, or idea further than you could have alone (but give credit when appropriate).

Faith is the act of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances [C. S. Lewis]
I think this mantra speaks for itself. But I will say this: the moment I realized that it was me that was changing day by day, and not God, was the day I realized that faith is a choice, it is not passive, but something you must choose every day. You choose to remember that God is trustworthy and faithful and powerful, even when it might not feel like it. That is the definition of praising in the storm. That is the life of a Christian: choosing truth, even when life can question that truth.

It’s not weird, it’s just different [Dr. Serah Shani]
My anthropology professor used to say this a lot and I don’t know if it’s her original idea or not, but I hear it in her voice. It’s important regardless of origin (see the Pablo mantra). If you catch yourself saying something is weird (especially in a cross-cultural scenario), correct yourself to saying it’s just different. It changes the connotation of the word and allows you to be open to new experiences and you just might like it. Along with that, maybe it’s not actually all that weird to that culture. Ever think that you’re really the weird one.

It is impossible to engage properly with a place or person without engaging with all of the stories of that place or person [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie]
In Chimamanda’s TED talk, A Single Story, from which this quote was taken, she describes how important and crucial, culture and context are. Meeting a new person, or visiting a new place requires that you consider all of that person or place: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yet in considering it all, recognizing that people and places are always dimensional, and should not be simplified, as that can lead to harmful stereotypes and judgements. There is not one single story or truth, but many. There is not just bad, there is good. There is “different.”

Great minds think alike, but fools seldom differ [Greek Proverb]
Most people forget the second part, but I think it’s the most important part. Sure it’s nice to surround yourself with people like you, but what good is that? You need new perspectives and ideas. This helps you grow but also helps you approach things in ways you never would have before. The possibilities are endless when others are involved, especially if they think differently than you.

Leadership matters. It matters disproportionately. It matters so much it scares me [Bill Hybels]
I heard this at a Global Leadership conference, and it struck me. I always knew that leadership was something I valued and something important, but it was when I saw bad leadership in action that I realized how destructive, unhealthy, and influential leadership can be. Yet in its best examples it has literally changed the world. Leadership is what will happen in the future, and what will be tolerated now, and in the future. It sets the tone, it sets the pace for life. And it is because the future hinges on leadership that it is so incredibly crucial, and so important that it is done well.

If somebody can do something 80 percent as good as you think you would have done it yourself, then you’ve got to let it go [Sara Blakely]
Within leadership, it’s really easy to just want to do everything your way always. I know that from experience. Giving over leadership or responsibility not only allows that person you give it to to get the experience they need to become their own leader, but it allows them to take your thing to the next level; farther than you could have. Their 80% of what you think you would have done yourself, will quickly become 110% more than you could have ever done. Give up a little control every once in awhile. You might be pleasantly surprised.

The measure of you as a leader is not what you do, but what others do because of you [Howard Hendricks]
So much of being a leader depends on your followers. One cannot even be a leader if he or she does not have followers! The goal of being a leader is to empower those around you, to do great things, even greater things than what you have accomplished yourself. I believe that the evidence of an effective, influential, and inspiring leader, comes from the value they add to the persons who are their followers, and the motivation they give them to have an affect on the world around them. What is the ultimate test of a great leader? Look at their followers. If their followers are making a difference, it is because they are being led well. What your followers are doing, and how they are doing, reflects back on you as the leader.

Disciples are made on the road, not in rows [Kim Hammond]
Even as a future teacher, I recognize that some (if not most) of the truly valuable learning happens outside of a typical classroom. You can preach and teach as much as you want about discipling others and spreading the Gospel, but you probably won’t make much actual progress. Action is what matters and doing is where people truly learn.

True evangelical faith, cannot lie dormant, it clothes the naked, it feeds the hungry, it comforts the sorrowful, it shelters the destitute, it serves those that harm it, it binds up that which is wounded, it has become all things to all creatures [Menno Simons]
I myself am a Mennonite, not by birth, but by faith. My parents were drawn to the Mennonite church because they saw faith in action. Faith in Christ means that we have been loved therefore we are to love. It moves us to action, we cannot help but to get involved, to reach out to others, to everyone, to serve, to help, to pray, to love. It is our response to God, and it is our natural response. Our response is to care, and to care means we take action: we feed the poor and hungry, we reach out to those who are lonely and lost, we fight for those who are facing injustices, we go where there is need.

People like us do things like this [Seth Godin]
People ask me why a lot. Why Poland? Why Italy? Why developed countries? Why missions? Why? This is my response. People like us (Christians), do things like this (spread the Gospel to the nations). I’m a Christian, so I go. I help. I love. I will fail sometimes, but I will try again because the Gospel is worth it. People are worth it. This is what I do. Plain and simple.

In this method, you don’t ask, What do I want from life? You ask a different set of questions: What does life want from me? What are my circumstances calling me to do? In this scheme of things we don’t create our lives; we are summoned by life [David Brooks]
Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need [Frederick Buechner]
After experiencing a big loss in my life, around the time I was to begin looking for colleges, I became agitated with everyone who asked me, “What do you want to do?” They were so focused on a career path or a direction for my life, and I had no clue. To me, the more important question became, “Who do I want to be?” From there, I began to ask myself a different set of questions: who was it God wanted me to be, and what was it that the world needed from me? These are the questions that lead us to our vocation in life, our purpose. Where our joy, our passion, meets the world’s need.

If your church is full of members, you get the occasional missionary. If your church is full of missionaries, the rest is geography [Erwin McManus]
Going to college in a new place had a lot of difficulties, one of which was finding a church. It took about a year, but I found the church I call home in Philly called Circle of Hope. One of the many things I love about it is that it embodies this idea (and I’m not even sure anyone’s heard this quote). It’s just in the air. Loving the community in Philly in the name of Jesus is so integral to life to everyone in the body, that it really does just come down to geography after that. The fact that there is 5 congregations proves this. Circle of Hope is full of missionaries, not just members. How beautiful is that? This is how the Gospel gets spread.

But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow faint [Isaiah 40:31 NIV]
This is my favorite Bible verse. One of the most difficult things in my life has been to trust God with the reasons why things have happened, and with my future. And yet here it says that those who rely and trust on Him will be given strength, strength enough to even fly! Flying has always been my secret wish for a super power, and so I can’t think of a better way to describe what is promised to those who trust.

If you want to be interesting, be interested [David Ogilvy]
If I’m being honest, this is probably the hardest mantra for me to actually live out. Why? I’m selfish. I need this mantra to remind me that it isn’t about me all the time. It’s first and foremost about God, then it’s about others. I’m not even in the top two. I truly am interested in the lives of others, so I need to act like it. 

Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow [Vincent Van Gogh]
I believe greatness is born from doing the unimaginable, the impossible, and generally paving your own, new path. Being comfortable is overrated, and so is being normal.


**Some mantras stolen from The Ember Cast (ya know, since we’re apart of them…), and they are honestly probably stole them from someone else before that. See more here**

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