It’s Time to Grow (Paraphrased)

Let me get in front of this and say I took this title from my pastor’s sermon this morning (I’m writing this on Sunday night). Really, I’m just going to paraphrase what he preached on today. To get the full scope, click and watch/listen the link below and begin at 30:30.

As my friend and pastor Dr. Byron L. Benton prepares to transition into his new role as Pastor of Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, SC, he spoke to the fact that, if there is no movement, there is no growth. Now, whether you’re religious or not, you can’t refute that. Though it may be challenging to let go of your comfort zone, you have to do it. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Serve the purpose you’re meant to serve for the season you’re meant to serve it in. But do yourself a favor and move when it’s time.

I hope you start this week with this message and contemplating how you need to prepare to move to the next place in your life. It’s imperative that you grow not only for yourself but for others. It’ll be painful at first, just like all growth is, but it is a part of our human experience.

Dr. B said a lot more during that his sermon about what to do during your sedentary seasons. Check out the sermon here. You can start at the 30:30 mark if you’re not looking to capture the worship side of things.


Make growth a priority.


An Open Letter: This Thanks Is For You

Dear Everyone,
It is an empowering thing to see us breaking down society’s rules of what it means to be successful and, instead, define it as our happiness. Certainly, many of us stunt a bit on S.M. but we are making progress and that’s what matters. I love scrolling down my timeline and seeing my friends defining success and joy for themselves.

Whether they just got out the bing or started their own business or got a promotion or switched careers or decided to pursue dreams of spitting bars or finished reading a book or learned a new word or quit their job to travel the world, I’m happy for you. You may have just saved your first $100 or $100,000. I am happy for you. You may have just gotten engaged or announced you’re having a kid out of wedlock. I am happy for you. I am happy because I know that every step you take, even if it is a challenging one, is another step toward your destiny. You are going to be great and you’re getting greater each day you do something that causes love in and for yourself to grow.

Life is short. If you aren’t loving it, you’re wasting it.


The Get Back

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” — Proverbs‬ ‭15:3

Have you ever been at a pivotal point in your life and realized that you have to refocus? No one will do it for you. Look in the mirror and make the changes necessary to reach for the stars that you know God put you here to reach for.That was me today. I’ve been doing well as of late in many ways. I’ve got a good job. I workout four or five days each week. I go to church. I’m eating better and drinking less. And I’m doing a better job of managing my money. But something was missing.

Last night, my best man and best friend Sean sent me a devotional he read. It was good advice but, at the time, I thought of it secularly and not spiritually. At 2:25 this morning, God woke me up and I sat and thought about what is missing from my days. I didn’t pick up my phone and scroll. I just thought. And I realized that, even with going to church weekly, leading Bible Study on Wednesdays, and working on the church’s social media team, I was neglecting my own relationship with God. I was doing enough to look like a good Christian but what was I sacrificing? I get up in the morning, do yoga, go to the gym, go to work, come home, watch Netflix and read books. Sure, I’d thank Him for waking me and for my food but that was the extent of my regular prayers.

After taking the time to recognize this, I prayed for healing. And after I prayed for healing, I decided I would read the Word. And you know what chapter I randomly came across? The one Sean sent me a few hours before. I didn’t realize it at first until I got to that verse. It was a reminder that, no matter how much I fall off, God is looking out for me and He has a plan to help me get back on the right track.

This has nothing to do with professional development or branding. As I said before, all of that looks good for me right now. It has to do with wholistic care. Are you, as a young professional, feeding your spirit the way you’re feeding your body and bank accounts? If the answer is no, consider how to start.

Make refocusing a priority.

Reading Isn’t An Option

If you want to grow professionally, you’ve got to read. I’m not saying you have to read an encyclopedia or even a book but you do need to be reading something. There are articles and blogs by leaders in your field. There are short, daily readers (like this one). There are tweets that will let you know what you really need to delve into within 140 characters.

Don’t short yourself professionally.



Make professional development a priority.

Did You Ever Think?

“Did you ever think that you would be this rich? Did you ever think that you would have these hits? Did you ever think that you would be the Don? Have a crib with the 50-acre lawn? Did you ever think that you would be this paid? Were there times when your ass was real afraid? Did you ever think that you would sell out tours? Have a show with 50 million viewers?” R. Kelly

Kells dropped that track back in the late 1990s and, as I sit in our Airbnb in Houston at 3:08 AM looking at the progress of my photography, I had to take a moment to sit in awe and ask myself “Did you ever think?”. This thought started with me looking at photos from 7 months ago and seeing how I’ve developed from a point-and-shoot photographer to a decent amature, but then I thought bigger than that. I looked back into my writings and took an honest inventory over my intellectual maturation and I realize that I never see where I am going but it is always in the direction of greater things.

On the flight to Houston yesterday, I restarted one of my favorite books, George Orwell’s 1984. Though I’ve loved the parallels in this work of art since I first read it in either Mr. Ruffle’s or Ms. Job’s English class, my reimersion into the book made me say “Wow! I liked this book on a surface level but now, as an aware adult who has not only a stake but also a say in the political processes of this nation, I am so much more invested in the unorthodoxy of Winston Smith as being necessary.” But I never would have thought that deeply on it in 9th or 10th grades.

How much do we do that we never saw ourselves doing? Even 5 years ago, upon graduation, I never saw myself traveling as much as I have in the past 24 months. I’ve gotten seven stamps on my passport and been to thirteen states and the District in what seems like no time, having visited a few of them multiple times. I’ve been both jobless and unable to pay rent and, a year and a half later, an arm’s length from six figures, only to be humbled again. I’ve endured great loss, found great joy, and experienced the onset of depression, only to witness the emergence of new life, making me more grateful than ever for life’s cyclical process.

Living is pretty cool like that. It forces you to put things in perspective, see where you’ve come from, where you are, and realize that, though life has its ebbs and flows, it could always be worse and it will always get better.

So, I beseech you to go and find an early version of something you love. Whether music or visual art or writing or a report from work or something you built with your own hands. And look at a more recent version of a like item. Appreciate that maturation and then examine another area of growth in your life. And another. And, before you know it, you’ll be thanking God for all that He’s brought you through and to.

There’s something greater. And there’s something tougher. Both will come. But always have hope in that which is greater.
Make personal development a priority.

Be Intent on Knowing

“Life without knowledge is death in disguise.” — Talib Kweli

What are you learning? What do you want to know? Are you open to what life brings to the table?

“Professional development” is just a fancy way of saying learning. You have to keep learning and because anything that does not grow is dead. Seek knowledge, both of self and of your surroundings, and you will gain understanding.


Make knowledge a priority.

Nothing Is As It Once Was

You must understand that tradition counts for very little in most industries today. It’s all about innovation and setting yourself apart. People want tailored experiences in everything from education to grocery shopping to banking. If you are not willing to adjust with the times, you will find yourself a fossil in the land of the thriving. That’s not what you want. So be willing to grow and expand.


Make professional development a priority.