Don’t let your past define your future.” Cliche? Maybe. However, for me, it’s more than motivational jargon, it is a way of life.

My present
I’m 35 years old, married to my high school sweetheart for almost 15 years, and a dad to two awesome dudes, Jayden, 12, and Joshua, 10.

My past
I’ve never met my father. I grew up in an alcohol fueled nightmare. I was sharing a story with my wife some time ago on a Wednesday date night, and I’ll share part of it here. But first, fun fact, Wednesdays are date nights. When you’ve been a student minister for 12 1/2 years and a youth professional for an extra 5, it almost feels like getting even with the universe to intentionally spend all that energy with my wife!

I couldn’t have been any more than 6 or 7. I fell asleep after school and woke up to my uncle screaming at my aunt for smoking his last cigarette. No one else was in the house except my cousin, Charlie, my aunt’s son.

Charlie, like a brother to me, was 4 or 5 at the time and was in tears. He didn’t know what to do. I grabbed him, and we hid behind the couch in the living room. It was the same room my uncle and aunt were fighting in. As we hid, James, my uncle, slapped Kathy, my aunt, to the floor.

The way her head snapped back, I thought James had killed her. The whole time, Charlie looked on. I guess what happened next was too terrible to remember because I’m blank after that.

I held Charlie and prayed for us.

That was one of the things that taught me I wanted something very different out of life. Later on, in 6th grade, I committed to myself that my wife was going to know, be loved, cared for, protected by, and provided for by her husband. I committed the same to myself for my children.

Now, I had no idea how to be a husband, but I knew I wanted to be one.

Fast forward to back present day
Alexis and I celebrated 14 years of marriage this past January 5th. We’ve watched each other grow up and emerge into working professionals. She has more degrees than fahrenheit and is an outstanding special education teacher. We lift weights together. We date one another. Any occasion is a good one for a sushi run. After 14 years of marriage and 17 years of her being my galpal, I’m still honored to be the man who gets to hear her heartbeat and wake up beside her in the mornings.

Our 12 year old is 6′, weighs 200lbs, and squats 2 plates in the 7th grade. While his football team has potential, they’re not even close to hitting their stride yet. I’ve told Jayden that he will have to step it up as a young man, not neglect the physical and intellectual gifts he’s been given (high IQ like his mom) and lead because people follow whether he likes it or not. He’s doing awesome with it, and I couldn’t be more happy with the way he’s responding to life’s challenges and opportunities.

Our 10 year old is the same caliber little dude. I think he’s going to be one of the 52% of people in the world whose personality type is intuitively a guardian. He’s responsible, caring, compassionate, and the kid is a full-blown entrepreneur…at 10.

This past Friday after school, he told us how he made $6 at school off of his friends selling hot wheels and Pokemon cards. I don’t even know where he got the hot wheels and cards from to start with, but here he is turning a profit. Then he announces how this next week he is running a buy 1, get 1 half off sale.

I’ll wrap this up with a summary. I went into full-time youth ministry and moved to High Point, NC from AL the same month my younger brother went to prison for selling meth. Now with 17 years as a youth professional, I’ve spoken at youth events all over the country, we’ve traveled from sea-to-shining sea and back again, and spent one summer serving with a short-term mission organization in Nassau, Bahamas.

Now, I serve as a relationship and marketing director with Chick-fil-A. I am the founder and president of a non-profit organization, Life that Counts. We provide peer-to-peer mentoring programs to middle and high schools. I continue to do character-education, motivational speaking engagements on a weekly basis to students, professionals, etc. I’ve been doing 2-a-days in the gym for five years, now, after a health-related episode occurred one afternoon while I was walking. I’ve squatted everyday since April 6, 2015, after hearing about Cory Gregory’s squat everyday challenge. In addition to these things, I have recently completed a book on pursuing your goals and chasing your dreams in life.

Why do I tell you all this? It may even sound like I’m a little full of myself, huh? Here’s the thing, I believe men are built to carry heavy loads. There’s this line that I love that says, “Men are like old trucks. They run straighter with a heavy load.”

Guys, we’re meant for so much more. We’re dreamers, visionaries, world changers, investors, mentors, leaders, culture shapers, and pioneers of industry. There are books inside of us waiting to get out, new businesses waiting to come to life, and concepts that will revolutionize the way we do daily life.

What are you living for? What keeps you up at night and wakes you up in the morning? What will haunt you if you don’t accomplish it? What do you long for?

Now guys, we can’t haphazardly run off and ride into the sunset with our hopes and dreams, leaving our responsibilities behind. However, we can be intentional about how we spend the early hours of the day, the waning hours of the evening, with a scheduled call or lunch meeting in the middle that takes us one step closer to living out our dreams.

Without hitting acute aspects of forming an action plan and getting bogged down in the minutiae of workflow processes, I want to encourage you to walk away from reading this with one assignment. Write down your dream.

It’s a very powerful thing when you take that first step of seeing yourself write out the words in your head onto a blank sheet. It’s full of potential, hope, and promise.

Go ahead and do it. Write down your dream.