I am not notable.
The only signature I pass out to people is the one at the bottom of my work email.
When you call my phone, you actually get me.
I do not have an assistant, handler or agent.
I drive myself places.
I can go out in public and go unrecognized.
I do not have merch or swag.
No one has ever lined up to see me.
These are all facts. But, I did grow up with a bunch of people who are pretty famous now. I’m from a small beach town in south Florida called Vero Beach. It’s about half way between Daytona Beach and Miami. I lived on the beach side of town, about a 5-minute walk from the river and the ocean. I spent much of my youth hanging out on boats or at the beach. Vero Beach, for generations, has affectionately been referred to as “Zero Beach” by bored high schoolers. Not a lot usually happens in Vero Beach, which is why it’s particularly exciting when you can turn on the television and see people you know.
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Rising actor, musician and Nashville heartthrob Tilky Jones (@tilkymjones) used to come to my birthday parties. He wasn’t born in Vero Beach, but we went to elementary school together where he rapped an original song “Get Busy, Not Dizzy” (a very Saved by the Bell-esque anti-drug anthem). On Nashville, Tilky had a recurring role as Hayden Panettiere’s love interest, Sean Butler.
Tiffany Simons, NBC Sports & NBCSports.com talent, and I went to high school together. She had a love for photography and is an awesome person to be around. I don’t think I can remember her not smiling. I’ve seen her interview pro athletes and cover the Mountain Dew Tour of action sports.
Sam Marine (middle) and Scott Stapleton (far right) both play in the successful indie rock band, Phosphorescent (@phosphorescent). They have recently appeared on several late night talk shows and their new album, Muchacho, has gotten lots of great press and gets plenty of play on my speakers. I became pretty good friends with Scott throughout high school, mainly during lunch trips to Miami Subs while blaring Pantera or Type O Negative on the way. I photographed a couple of Scott’s concerts during his days with Dark Angel Divine.
— This now concludes the name-dropping portion of the blog —
There are plenty of others that are making their mark as notable fashion designers, bloggers, Army Special Forces and lots of other amazing careers as well.
In addition to these former classmates, Vero Beach is also proud to have writers Carl Hiaasen and Stuart Woods associated with it, other musicians like Alison Mosshart and apparently MLB superstar Prince Fielder even went to private school for a couple years in Vero Beach (I had no idea).
Seeing these people on TV is fun, it’s exciting to hear their music or see them on SportsCenter. You naturally want to cheer for people from your hometown or the college you went to. It’s nice to celebrate the famous people who walked where you walked and ate where you ate.
I’m completely content with not making anyone’s list of “people I once knew.” I have no jealousy or desire to have people drop my name. But, what I do have aspirations to hear one day comes from Matthew 25.
The subject of the parable is a man who is going on a long journey and entrusts some of his money with his servants. He gives one servant five talents (several years’ wages), another servant two talents and the last servant one talent. The man receiving five talents invested his money and ended up with five more talents. The man receiving two talents did the same thing and got two more. But, the third man buried his talent in a hole. When the master finally returned home, his servants brought him the talents.
To the servants who invested and increased the money, the master said “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
This is exactly the type of recognition I’m seeking. See, we are all in different places and have different talents (the skill kind). Some were born in to wealth, some were born in to a manageable life, some were born in to little. Some were born into loving homes, some broken homes. Some were born in to free countries, others were born in to countries fill with war, discrimination and conflict. Jesus points this out in the parable and emphasizes that it’s what you do with your situation that matters. It’s about how you respond to what you have and use it to serve your master.
I struggle when I’m around a lot of other mature Christians. I grew up believing in God, but I wasn’t “saved” until I was 22 and even then, I didn’t start really growing in my faith until 2007 or 2008. When I’m around other Christian men and women who are constantly quoting Scripture or recalling Bible stories, I feel quite tiny. This topic came up at a men’s Bible study recently. A friend of mine confessed the same feelings of inadequacy.
By being faithful to the master, the servants received great praise. “Well done, good and faithful servant!” How cool is that? How great would it be to hear the Lord greet us with that when we run through the Pearly Gates. Despite not having any celebrity status or very public platform, we still have that opportunity.
This is OK. Perfectly OK.
I’m never going to be a pastor with many published books or with a speaking tour. I’m not going to have people tuning in to see what I will do on TV this week. I’m not going to sell tickets to anyone to see me perform. Despite all this, I still have talents that I am called to use in my circles of influence.
My prayer is that I will use the gifts I was given to completely serve and glorify God. I want God secretly cheering when I’m being obedient in my service. I want him to look out at my life and say, ‘Way to go! I knew him back when he was in elementary school,’ or ‘Hey, I created that guy!’ I want God to be proud of how I love people and how I show God’s love to people. Love is something you share, not something you keep inside. If I give enough of it out and make it compound in to more love, maybe then God can say ‘Well done, come and share my happiness!’