Did you ever play little league baseball?  I did, and I there are two words that are seared my my memory from days as a little leaguer: “Hustle Up!” I don’t remember my coach’s name, or what he looked like; but I do remember him constantly yelling that phrase at every practice and every game.  It’s as if he was telling us: if you want to win,  you’re gonna HAVE to work harder!

Last month, we moved our family into a new place just up the street from where we were previously living. It’s a great house, we feel extremely blessed to be in the situation that we’re in.  In fact, the new place is literally DOUBLE the size (in square footage) as the old place.  With 3 little ones in the house, this was a welcomed upgrade in size!

While we were moving in, one of my dear friends made a joke that got me thinking. Gazing at the grandeur of the new place, he said: “Wow… all this because you know Photoshop?!”

Of course, he was only joking – and I know that.  He knows that I’ve had to work hard and that nothing has been handed to me. With that said, it really got me thinking about my journey as a designer and how I got to the place that I’m at today:

It’s all about hustle and hard work; it’s as simple as that.

My journey as a Graphic Designer began humbly in June of 1999, when I decided to open up Photoshop 4.0 to create a flyer for the youth group game night. I was tired of seeing flyers made with clip-art and I knew there had to be a better way, I took it upon myself to jump in and figure it out. I had NO idea what I was doing – but I knew one thing, I loved my church and I began to develop a passion for making things look good.

When we were dating, I can remember spending HOURS upon hours on Mikela’s computer (because I didn’t have my own at the time) making stuff in Photoshop.  I joined several online design forums (forums were all the rage before Twitter) and posted my work for critique. I would play Photoshop tennis with guys who were WAY better than me and get absolutely annihilated and embarrassed. I would design, re-design and re-design websites again and again for the youth group I was volunteering at. I would subject myself to the brutal honesty of my future wife, Mikela, who would tell me the good, the BAD, and the UGLY part of every design.

I was relentless in my pursuit to be the best Graphic Designer that I could be, my wife can attest to that. During the day, I worked a full-time job at Biola University – schlepping boxes in the supply warehouse. Every night, I would jump back on the computer and get back to it. I picked up freelance projects for my church, pro-bono projects for friends, I would design anything for anyone in an effort to sharpen my skill set. With no formal education in art or design, I knew I was going to have to work way harder to make this my profession and fulfill my calling in full-time ministry.

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Collin Powell

Do I have natural artistic abilities? Probably. Did Photoshop come easier to me than most people? Maybe. For me, it was more than just talent and natural ability – I wanted to be the best! After all, if God has given me this ability, skill set, giftedness… why not maximize it? I learned a long time ago, don’t ever expect anything to be handed to you: go after it and get it yourself! Get your hustle on, work your butt off to the glory of God and MAXIMIZE the talents that he’s given you!

One more thing: I know what you’re thinking… “How arrogant of him to think that he earned himself everything he’s ever gotten!”  — That’s my not take on this.  I firmly believe in God’s steady hand of provision in my life – He’s proven to be faithful in so many ways over so many years. But, I refuse to sit on my derrière and let God “bless my socks off” without doing anything to deserve it.

The parable of the talents is pretty clear on how God sees those who sit on their talents: What are you doing with yours?

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