We’ve all had voices in our lives that have influenced us—parents, teachers, friends. Those people are important because sometimes it’s hard for us to see our potential. Sometimes we look at the possibilities in front of us and think, “I can’t. There’s no way.” We need those voices in our lives to help us recognize and achieve our full potential.
"Greatness should have a purpose ..." —Jeremy Cowart
Our gifts and talents—our potential—is important. But pursuing greatness isn’t enough. We need our pursuit of greatness to serve a greater purpose. To make that kind of a difference in the world, connect your story to the larger story God is telling in human history. Let him use your gifts and talents to serve others.
"Generations from now, your family will Google you. What are you teaching them about yourself through your social media?" —Jeremy Cowart
Scripture: Philippians 4:12–13 — “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Recently named the “Most Influential Photographer on the Internet” by Huffington Post, Forbes and Yahoo, Jeremy is a husband, a dad, an Emmy-nominated celebrity photographer, an entrepreneur, a teacher and he tries to give back as often as possible. He founded a global photography movement called Help-Portrait, an iPhone app called OKDOTHIS, as well as an online teaching platform called See University. His goal in life is to use his voice, ideas and creativity to inspire and help others. He lives the simple life in Nashville, TN with his wife and four children, 2 of which were recently adopted from Haiti.
At his core, Jeremy is an artist. Starting out as a painter first, Jeremy fell in love with the creative process. He then went on to study graphic design in college and founded his own graphic design company, Pixelgrazer, in 2001. Jeremy really only began taking pictures to bring texture into his design work. But before he knew it, he realized that photography was his true passion. So in April of 2005, Jeremy switched over to it full time and he has never looked back. In a relatively short amount of time, Jeremy earned the respect of artists, photographers, and celebrities alike. Now hailed as one of the trailblazers in the industry, Jeremy sees photography as a natural extension of his passion for the arts.
We’re tempted to think things or social status will make us happy. We construct lives that look amazing on the outside, even though we’re rotting on the inside. But keeping up appearances is difficult. It leaves us longing for something more. It leaves us searching for meaning in life.
"There is not a single person on earth who NEEDS to be drinking dirty water." —Scott Harrison
There’s no need to keep up appearances. There’s no value in it. You will find value and meaning when you shift your focus toward serving others in their greatest needs—the way Jesus served you in your greatest need.
"Everyone should have access to clean water regardless of where they were born." —Scott Harrison
Scripture: John 13:14–17 — “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Scott Harrison, Founder and CEO, charity: water:
Scott Harrison spent almost ten years as a nightclub promoter in New York City, living decadently and extravagantly. But at age 28, he had a crisis of conscience and found himself lost and unfulfilled, desperate to rediscover his sense of purpose. He decided it was time for a drastic change, and left NYC to spend a year volunteering as a photojournalist aboard a hospital ship off the coast of Liberia, West Africa.
During this time, Harrison witnessed and photographed levels of poverty and illness he never knew existed. As one year turned into two, he came to understand that many of the infections and diseases their group treated were waterborne, and could have been prevented if people had access to clean drinking water. He noticed a lot of existing organizations treating the effects of dirty drinking water, but he was determined to do something about the cause.
Upon returning to NYC in 2006, Harrison turned his full attention to the global water crisis and the (then) 1.1 billion people living without access to clean water. He established a small core support team in a tiny Manhattan apartment to develop the foundation of charity: water. Starting with the simple idea of charging admission to his birthday party, he raised enough to get charity: water off the ground.
Ten years later, charity: water has come a long way in the fight for clean drinking water. It’s raised over $210 million to fund 20,062 water projects around the world and bring clean water to more than 6.3 million people. But there’s still work to do. Millions of people still lack access to life’s most basic need, and charity: water won’t stop until every single one of them has clean and safe water.
What would you do if you couldn’t fail? Would you write a book, produce music, or start your own business? Would you go back to school? Would you get married? Whatever that thing is, don’t you think it’s time to sweep aside all of the excuses you have for not pursuing the life God has planned for you?
"If we only listen to what other people say we should do, we may miss what God is saying we should do." —Ryan Leak
There are things that put pressure on you to be what you’re not. The roles you have as a family member, coworker, employer, or student put expectations on you that you may not be intended to carry. God has a plan for your life . . . and so do other people. But God’s plans are bigger. They’re more important. In order to pursue those plans, you’ll have to risk failure. You’ll have to work to become today who you intend to be tomorrow.
"Failure doesn’t have to define you." —Ryan Leak
Scripture: Joshua 1:9 — “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
He’s a husband to Amanda and dad to Jaxson. After that, he’s an author, filmmaker, and speaker. He’s known as an ultimate risk taker from his two documentaries: The Surprise Wedding and Chasing Failure. Ryan proposed to his wife and married her on the same day, having planned their wedding in secret for two years. That documentary went viral in 2013 and the Leaks have been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Queen Latifah Show, and many other various media outlets.
Ryan’s most recent film is called Chasing Failure where he went on a journey to conquer his fear of failure by trying out for an NBA team. Ryan travels the country and teaches people how to remove the limitations that keep them from dreaming. And now, he teaches people how to be UnOffendable.
Ryan and his family reside in Dallas, TX and serve on staff at Covenant Church.