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Humor, Storytelling, & Effective Leadership with Jon Acuff

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New York Times Bestselling author Jon Acuff joins Ray to discuss his unique belief in the power of humor in communication, the importance of adding fun to a goal, and the 3 circles he examines when contemplating a new project. Jon will be a keynote speaker at the 2019 Truth At Work Conference on November 8th, 2019.
 
Bio:
Jon Acuff is the New York Times Bestselling author of six books, including his most recent Wall Street Journal #1 Bestseller, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done.
 
For over 20 years, he’s helped some of the biggest brands in the world tell their story, including The Home Depot, Bose, Staples, and the Dave Ramsey Team. He speaks to hundreds of thousands of people at conferences, colleges, companies and churches. In 2010, he used his influence to build two kindergartens in Vietnam.
 
Quotes:
“God won’t be handcuffed by my mistakes, or unleashed by my successes.”
 
“The best things that have happened to me I’ve received; I didn’t force.”
 
“The best stories leave room for me to tell my own.”
 
Key Takeaways:
1. An idea can help change someone’s life
2. You don’t need to be perfect just present
3. Care about your email list, not just your social media
4. Don’t isolate when you’re stuck
5. Overthinking is costly
 
Acuff.me
www.acuff.me/books/
truthatwork.org/conference
 


 
As faith-based leaders in the marketplace, we face a real and ongoing tension of leading, working, and living with an eternal perspective. All while needing to produce tangible results in the here and now.
 
Join us at the Annual Truth At Work Conference on November 8th, 2019, as Jon Acuff and other national thought leaders equip us with best practices for integrating faith and work.
 

 
Full transcript:
 
Ray Hilbert: Hello ladies and gentleman. This is Ray Hilbert. I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith, and we’d love to welcome you back to another edition of the program where we talk about eternal business and real life. That intersection of faith, business and leadership.
And we travel the country, sometimes in a live face to face conversation, and in times like today, when we’re over the phone, we talk with some of America’s leading Christ followers who are experts in entrepreneurial, in leadership, and living out their faith in the marketplace. And boy, oh boy, folks, grab a pen, grab some paper, buckle up. We are in for a treat today.
Our guest today is New York Times bestselling author, Jon Acuff, who lives in the Nashville area, one of the leading influencers in social media today. We’re going to talk more about that in just a moment. Author of New York times bestselling book, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, and we could go on and on about Jon’s background and resume, but let’s get into the conversation. Jon, welcome to Bottom Line Faith.

Jon Acuff: Yeah, thanks for having me today, Ray.

Ray Hilbert: Well, Jon, you’re certainly no stranger to these kinds of conversations. You host your own program with hundreds of thousands of followers and listeners, and so on and so forth. What was it that kind of got you into this field of leadership? How did you get going in this, and how did your faith play a role in all that? Just help our audience to understand your background.

Jon Acuff: Sure. A little bit of my background, I was in corporate marketing. So I had the opportunity to work in the marketing departments of big brands like Bose and Staples and the Home Depot. And so I was working in these departments, really enjoyed the work, felt challenged creatively.
And along about 10, 12 years ago, I started a blog, and it was a blog called Stuff Christians Like, and the goal was to have a fun conversation about the funny sides of faith. I’m a pastor’s kid, so I grew up in the church. I certainly can speak church pretty well. So I would write about silly things like wishing you had a shirt that said, “I direct deposit my tithe,” that you could wear to church on Sunday.
Because when you tithe online, nobody in church knows you’re still giving. And when you hot potato that offering bucket by, it’d be just helpful if you could go, “Hey, hey, hey, I still love Jesus. I just give online. Here’s my tee shirt.” So I started writing about that, and as God is want to do, it just ended up having a life of its own.
We had millions and millions of readers, and I got to write a book out of that experience with Zondervan, called Stuff Christians Like. And then from there, got to work with a guy named Dave Ramsey who’s got a massive radio audience. And he basically said, “Hey, let me show you how to really expand platform, really expand influence, really serve people.”
Did that for a few years, and then I was ready to try it on my own. So about six years ago, I started my own company. And so now, I spend most of my weeks either going to speak at companies or writing books that help companies and individuals. And so that’s kind of the quick version. And that spans from Birmingham, Alabama to Boston, to Atlanta. And now, we’ve landed in Nashville for the last nine years, and we just love it.

Ray Hilbert: Oh, that’s fantastic. So, growing up as a pastor’s kid, did you early on maybe see yourself following in dad’s footsteps, becoming a vocational pastor? Or did you always have the desire to be in business, to be in corporate setting leadership? What was that like?

Jon Acuff: Well, I think a pastor’s kid has that itch to some degree. I think it’s just natural. There’s so many great examples where … LeBron James’ son is going to play basketball, because guess what? He grew up around basketball. And so, there was definitely some of that. But I think, more than that, I really fell in love with the idea that an idea could help change somebody’s life.
The power of communication, and from third grade, having a teacher tell me, “You’re good at writing poetry,” on up to college, where I realized, wow, with marketing, you can really help somebody change some habits they’re working on, or change their perception of something.
So I think that more than anything, what I fell in love with, watching my dad do what he does, and I certainly would say, anytime somebody gives me a compliment about public speaking, that I’m standing on his shoulders, because I learned how to communicate from him.
He started a Southern Baptist church in Massachusetts in the 80s, which was unheard of. And so watching him use humor and insight to an audience that … There was no cultural Christianity, really. So that really shaped how I communicate. So I would say, though, that what I from an early age thought was, wow, when you shape an idea the right way, you can really do something pretty interesting, pretty special. I wonder if I can do that someday.
And now, at the time, social media didn’t even exist. I always tell college students, “Don’t worry.” We put this pressure on 18 year olds, they have to know the next 30 years of their life and pick a major. But I couldn’t have majored in what I do right now, because it literally didn’t exist. I couldn’t have picked social media as an 18 year old in college, because it didn’t exist. And so it’s been a fun ride. But I would say the idea and my passion for ideas is what started early.

Ray Hilbert: Well, I find all that so incredibly interesting. You really created not only a brand, but to some degrees, you were cutting edge on an industry. So if I’m listening to this conversation and I’m thinking, okay, how does a guy like Jon go out and live his faith?
Because I’m looking at some of the companies that you work with, and some of the brands that you helped build. They’re very prominent, successful businesses, global corporations, but certainly not faith-based, overtly. How do you go about integrating your faith in your background, in your communication, in a way that doesn’t alienate those audiences?

Jon Acuff: Well, I feel like that’s the spot God’s put me in, in a really special way. During my 15 years working for big companies, I wouldn’t have known what was to come. But now, I can go speak at big massive companies that aren’t faith-based, because I’ve got background in that. And I get invited to places a pastor will never get invited to.
And I don’t take that lightly. I think what really helped me was Matthew Chandler, friend of mine in Texas, a pastor. I was talking to him about it, because I think, as Christians, we often have this guilt that we have to give the full gospel to every person we meet. And what did Jesus say to Zacchaeus? “Zacchaeus, come down from that tree. I want to go to your house and have dinner.”
He didn’t say, “Before you leave the tree, I want to Roman roads you, and tell you the whole gospel.” So Matthew, Matt Chandler said to me, “Hey, bloom where you’re planted. You’re there for an hour. Share that hour, be deliberate about it. But here’s what it looks like for you to be present to that.”
The books I’ve written are business books, and it’s kind of like John Townsend. A lot of his books you’d go, wow, there’s something different. There’s something special. And he’d go, “Yeah, I’m talking about a biblical truth.” That’s what I try to aim for with mine, too. And so, I recognize that there’s different opportunities and different conversations that come along. And I try to be patient with those.
I like to tell people, “You often get to be one verse in somebody’s song.” And I think, as Christians, we feel the pressure to be the whole song. Say I’m talking to a room full of youth pastors. You talk about a pressure job. You might speak to 200 kids, and one of them is going to tell you, “Hey, that really mattered to me.”
But the rest of them, you won’t get to see that when they’re 35 and they have their own kid, they came back to church, and that you were a seed that was planted years ago, and the work you did really mattered. You just got to be one verse, and you have to trust that you have a big God that’s going to resolve the song. And so that’s how I look at it.
And I feel very fortunate that I get to go talk with these companies. I love that I get to do that. But I’d say it’s the same way that if somebody said to me, “Okay, you’re an ophthalmologist, and you’re doing cataract surgery. How did you share the gospel?” I’d say, “I was an amazing ophthalmologist today, and when the the chance to have a conversation came up, I was present in that conversation.”
I wouldn’t say, “Well, as soon as I made the first incision, I said, ‘Hey, have you been baptized?'” Because that’s not … They want me to be an amazing ophthalmologist. And so I think that’s part of the fun for my job, is going, “Okay, God, you put me where you want me to go and show me how to do that.”

Ray Hilbert: That is really great. And so, let’s tie this in, then, to the audience we have here at Bottom Line Faith. Many of our listeners are entrepreneurs, they’re CEOs, they’re leading companies, and so forth. Sharing the principles that you just did, what words of encouragement could you have to someone who’s listening here and saying, “Okay, so how do I do this? How do I not beat people over the head with the Bible, but yet live out my faith in a loving, winsome way?” Any words or thoughts there?

Jon Acuff: Well, I think part of it is you be patient. You be patient, let it go at God’s time, not your own. I think all too often, when we try to grab ahold of his calendar or we try to grab hold of his clock, we end up forcing stuff. And we go, “It’s so weird. That person I’d never met didn’t want to have a soul conversation with me.” Well, yeah, you’d never met him. You barely knew their last name.
You didn’t have any ground of relationship with them. When you forced that on somebody, they feel transactional. They feel like you were trying to check a box that, okay, I shared with them today. It had nothing to do with them. You might as well show up with a stock message at a speech and go, “Hey, I don’t care who’s in the crowd. You’re all getting the same message.” That disconnects you from people.
So I think a big part of it is, be patient. It takes time, and when you’re prompted, answer the prompts, but don’t force the prompts. What I’ve found is that the best things that have happened to me, I’ve received, I didn’t force. And so when I’ve got open hands, and I’m able to say, “Okay, God, I’m trusting you with this,” wonderful, beautiful things happen.
When I clinch my fists and think, “I got to control my business, I got to control my life. I have to control every inch of it,” boy, do I get real tense and just squeeze all the joy right out of it.

Ray Hilbert: That’s such an encouragement, and frankly, doesn’t it help take some of the pressure off, at least the self implied pressure, like, “I’ve got to do this?”

Jon Acuff: Oh, well, here’s a case in point. So, every time somebody speaks and says, “I’m nervous about speaking,” I’ll tell them, there’s a couple points I’ll give them, but one of them is, they’re going to hear what they need to hear. That’s how speaking works. I’ve had people come up to me at the end of the night and go, “Hey, that thing you said was really meaningful. I loved it.”
I’ll say, “Which thing?” And then they’ll say something I didn’t even say. And it was they heard what they needed to hear. We’ve all done that. When you’re listening to a speech or reading a book or doing anything, you’re putting it together with your own thoughts, your own experiences. That’s one of the things I teach in marketing is that the best stories leave room for me to tell my own.
That’s why a simple photo, lost of white space, a single headline, two paragraphs. They want you to tell them using your vocabulary, your experiences. And so, it does take the pressure off, because a lot of times, the idea that I have to get this thing perfect, or this won’t happen, you go, well, you don’t. You don’t have to do that. You have to be present.
I always tell pastors this. God won’t be handcuffed by my mistakes or unleashed by my successes. He wasn’t going to do something and then he’s unable to do it because of Jon Acuff. Thank goodness. What a small, weak God if the whole thing hinges on my ability, because I’m going to mess up. He’s going to do his thing. The love is he invites us in it to do it with him. That’s the joy. He goes, “Hey, do you want to be part of this story?” And then you get to be part of it. That’s really fun.

Ray Hilbert: That’s so powerful. Again, taking the pressure off. So, you have had amazing success, and let’s just call it what it is. And I’m looking in the last eight years, releasing five books. And let me, you mentioned the first one, Stuff Christians Like, which came out in 2010. The next book, called Quitter: Close the Gap Between your Day Job and your Dream Job. Roughly two years later, Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters.
Two years later, Do Over: Make Today the First Day of Your New Career, and then really runaway hit, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. I would love for you to unpack for our audience, how do you get inspired? How do you go about such prolific writing and communication? I’ve coauthored a couple of books myself, and this is no easy undertaking. What is that process like for you? Where do you get your inspiration? How do you find the time? How do you develop your concepts? Just unpack that for us.

Jon Acuff: Yeah, well, I’d say right out of the gate, I find books challenging. Sometimes, when you hear about it in a list, it feels like I’m running through a field with a ribbon and it’s always just super easy. So anybody who sits down to write will tell you, “Boy, that’s challenging.”
So I think the way I look at it is, I think about three circles. So imagine there’s three circles, and one says passion. And so I find a passion in my own life. What’s something that I’m personally interested in? And I collect a bunch of questions, I’ll collect a bunch of thoughts. I’m writing them down in a notebook. I’m very deliberate about my ideas and and kind of recording them.
So I’m looking for questions. What’s something in my own life that I’m curious about? Passion. The second thing I look for is a need. Is there a need? Do people actually need this idea? And the third thing I look for is I look in the market, I go, is it overserved or underserved? So let’s take Finish, because that’s the most recent book.
So I realized, okay, I’d like to be better at finishing things. There’s some goals that are easy for me to look at, that I can go, “Wow, I didn’t finish that. Why is that?” I’m really good at starting. So I said, “Okay, well, I have a passion. How do you finish?”
So then, I said, “Okay, is there a need?” This is kind of … Imagine a Venn diagram, these are all overlapping. And people came up to me and said, “Hey, I liked your book Start. It was helpful, but I’ve never had a problem starting. I can start 50 things tomorrow.” Every entrepreneur listening to this right now has 50 URLs they’ve registered, because they thought, “Someday, I’m going to do something with that idea.”
It’s really easy to start, and people said, “Hey, can you teach me how to finish?” And so then, I looked in the marketplace. And so I went to Amazon, for instance, and I typed in Finish, and the first thing that came up, the only thing that came up, was Finish dishwasher detergent. And I thought, okay, well, maybe there’s something there.
And so you have to have all three. Say you have a passion, something you’re really excited about. It’s not being served in the market. You think that wow, it’s missing in the market, but people don’t need it. That’s essentially a hobby. I liked that you want to do a store for albino ferret owners, because you don’t think anybody’s serving that market. But nobody actually needs that. That’s a hobby.
Say you find a really big need, a really big market, but you have no personal heart for it? That’s a day job. You might make money at it, but if you’re not personally connected to it, eventually, it’s going to feel like a day job, and you’re not going to feel great about it. Say you find a need, people need this thing. Say you find a passion, you love it, but the market is oversaturated. That’s a cake pop.
If you told me today, “Jon, I’m going to open a cake pop store,” I’d say, “You’re 10 years too late.” By the time it’s, we already have that. That market’s saturated. So for me, that’s about books. I think, okay, here’s the three pieces. And so right now, I’m in the middle of writing a book. I’m on chapter four today, and the topic is overthinking.
And I think it’s going to be my most important book, in part because me and a PhD asked 10,000 people in this study, do you struggle with overthinking? And 99.5% of people said yes. So as an author, when you identify a need that large, you write that book. And the crazy thing is, they all think they’re the only one that does it.
And I think overthinking costs companies millions of dollars every year in lost decisions, lost actions, lost time, lost creativity. So I’ve got the three circles, and that’s the next thing I’m writing. But that’s how I pick an idea to work on.

Ray Hilbert: Well, to me, it seems like that’s extraordinarily applicable to any business looking to determine, is this a product or a service that we’re going to offer or take to market? Those questions seem very practical, right?

Jon Acuff: Oh, yeah. 100%. And when I get the chance to talk to entrepreneurs, I often teach keeps those circles, and part of it is, I’d rather meet a need than invent a need.

Ray Hilbert: Yeah.

Jon Acuff: And so if I can identify that, I’d rather have fans waiting for the thing they told me they needed then have to do the leg work, which is often very expensive and time consuming, of creating a need where there isn’t one.

Ray Hilbert: Yeah, absolutely. So, there’s a couple of interesting tidbits that I would love to explore with you, just as you’ve actually been a standup comedian. You’ve sold out comedy clubs. Can you tell us a little bit about that, and I don’t know, you give us an example of one of your favorite jokes?

Jon Acuff: Yeah, well, I’ve always loved humor. That’s who … I study comedians more than business speakers, because I think great comedians are great social commentators. And my father used to take me to comedy clubs and see comedians. So it’s part of something I’ve always enjoyed.
And so finally I said, “Okay, I’m going to try it. I’m going to do two nights in Nashville in our biggest comedy club and see if I can actually do it.” And so I sold it out, which, with the size of my platform, that wasn’t the challenging part. The challenging part was writing a 60 minute comedy set. That was incredibly difficult, and if anything, gave me great, even greater respect for comedians who I already respected.

Ray Hilbert: Yeah.

Jon Acuff: And so yeah, last fall, I did that. I love doing it. One of my favorite jokes, I saw a bumper sticker that says, “My dog is smarter than your honor student.” I always want to say, “Where did you go to school? How bad was your honors program?” I’ve never heard somebody say, “Our honor students are really great at calculus, but if there’s a loud storm, we have to put thunder shirts on them,” or, “If Kyle gets too excited about a history problem, he urinates everywhere.”
That’s just a crazy thing to think. No it’s not. Your dog eats a dead chipmunk if he finds one, because that’s amazing to him. Your dog isn’t smarter than an honor student. That’s just not even a little bit true. And so I had a lot of fun kind of exploring that idea, because I just felt like it’s such a ridiculous thing to say.

Ray Hilbert: So Jon, in this whole vein of humor and comedy, I read something about you online that, it just piqued my curiosity. It said that after May 1st, 2019, you will forever be known as, I quote, “The turtle urine guy.” What’s up with that?

Jon Acuff: Yeah, that’s such a funny thing to me. So, I spoke at an event, 8,000 people, in the arena for an organization, and I’ve done this event five or six years in a row. So I know the audience, the audience knows me, really, really special event for me.
And this last year, I did a … The theme was personal, and so I did a countdown of animals from most personal to least personal, because I thought that who doesn’t like bringing animals on stage? And so we started with a puppy, like, “Oh, so cute.” And then I worked their way down to the least personal animal, which is a cat.

Ray Hilbert: Amen.

Jon Acuff: And in between were animals like snake, turtle, fish. And so we had a desert tortoise, and we just, we got these animals from some place that just rents animals, and they just show up with bags of animals. It was very bizarre. So the animals, they’re behaving, everything’s going well. And then the desert tortoise, I held it up in front of 8,000 people, and it started urinating right in the middle of my speech.
And it happened right after I’d said owning a turtle is like owning a rock who could die. And it was like, it was perfectly timed, as if it was insulted by the joke. And so, for me, I loved it, because I knew we were about to ride this comedy wave. It was, to me, manna. What a gift. And so I started to joke about it, and then it kept going again and again and again.
And it was a three day event. That’s the thing everybody asked me about. And so, I guarantee, when I speak at that event next May, somebody who’s going to give me a stuffed animal turtle, because it was so … Again, I didn’t do anything. I just received the gift of that turtle. But boy, was that hilarious, and it was very memorable. And it’s hilarious if that’s on my Wikipedia page. Of course it is. That’s the internet.

Ray Hilbert: Did it make its way to YouTube?

Jon Acuff: Oh, yeah, yeah. It’s probably going to be my third most popular post on Instagram this year. Yeah. That thing has a life of its own, as well it should. It couldn’t have been funnier. So that is … It’s a great question to ask, because you know there’s a story behind a sentence like that. And that is the story.

Ray Hilbert: That’s brilliant. I love it. And so, why is humor such an important part of effective communication?

Jon Acuff: Well, Chris Rock, the comedian, says, “There’s certain things people won’t listen to unless they’re laughing at the same time.” And I’ve always believed that to be true. So I think that humor is a great vehicle for truth. It puts a handle on ideas. That’s kind of one of the things I like to say that is my job, is I’m a handle maker.
We have enough ideas, we don’t have enough handles on them to pick them up and take them back to our lives. I think humor does that, where it allows you to put a handle on an idea that otherwise, somebody might not listen to, might not have picked up. And we remember it. Humor is sticky. Humor is sticky. I’ve never given a speech and had somebody at the end say he laughed too much.
When I do a corporate speech, they’re not expecting number. That’s what’s really fun, is that I get to make it a lot of fun. And part of that is, it goes back to sitting in boring corporate speeches myself, growing up, and thinking, “Oh man, this topic doesn’t have to be boring. There’s ways that you could make this really fun.” Even if it’s a serious topic, there is a way we can have fun with it. And so that’s what I try to do when I have the chance to serve an audience.

Ray Hilbert: That’s a biblical principle, right? Laughter is a medicine to the soul, as it tells us in Proverbs. And you address that in your book, Finish. Could you talk just for a moment, what is the role of humor in getting things done?

Jon Acuff: Yeah, what was interesting, we studied that. I commissioned a research study with a PhD named Mike Peasley, to see nearly 900 people for six months as they worked on their goals. And one of the things we tested was making the goal fun. Not having fun. Going to the beach is having fun. Making it fun is finding deliberate ways to add fun to things that aren’t inherently fun.
So looking at a project and going, “This part of the project is challenging to me. How do I add a little more joy? How do I do that?” And what we found is that, when people do that, they were 31% more satisfied with the goal, and they were 46% higher performing. And so it had a very important impact on their ability to do it. And when you think about it, it just makes sense.
Of course you’re going to do something you find enjoyable more often. But we as Americans often think a goal has to be difficult or miserable to count. So when people tell me, “I’m going to lose weight,” and I go, “Great, what are you going to do?” They’ll say, “I’m going to run.” And I’ll go, “Okay, do you like running?” And they go, “No, I hate it. That’s how I know it’s good for me.”
And you go, “Well, you’re not going to stick with it. You hate the thing.” But the problem is, they don’t think dancing counts, or they don’t think a walk around their neighborhood with their spouse counts. They think it has to be miserable for me to get something out of it. Where, when you add fun to it, you dramatically increase your odds of actually doing it, which again, just makes sense when you think about it.

Ray Hilbert: Yeah. Very good. Very good. Jon, in just the remaining few moments, I’d like to just get a couple pieces of advice or encouragement from you. As you look back over the course of your life and career, what would you say is the biggest mistake you can recall making, and what did God teach you in the midst of that?

Jon Acuff: Biggest mistake. I wouldn’t say, I mean, it’s hard to think of a single one. I would say more a general fog of arrogance and immaturity would be my biggest kind of mistake, and I think that manifested with not being willing to listen to wise counsel. I’m thinking I didn’t need wise counsel, being kind of impulsive with decisions, thinking wise counsel was in the way of the decision versus trying to help me have guard rails for the decision.
So I would say that’s kind of the fog of arrogance and immaturity. I would say it has been my biggest mistake. And what God taught me, I think what he taught me there is that I need to learn how to ask for help.

Ray Hilbert: Yeah.

Jon Acuff: A friend said to me that people don’t want advice, they want confirmation. And that’s really stuck with me. And so trying to allow people into my life that can give me advice, not just confirm what I already want to believe. And so that, that’s been a good lesson for me, and that one, I certainly don’t feel done with that lesson.

Ray Hilbert: Yeah.

Jon Acuff: But it’s one that I think has stuck with me.

Ray Hilbert: Okay. And this may take us down a very similar pathway here, but if you were to go back and give advice to the 20-year-old Jon Acuff, what would you say to that young man?

Jon Acuff: I’d say, “Marry Jenny Acuff as fast as you can.” Or, actually, Jenny Calbert. I didn’t marry my cousin. Yeah, I’d say, “Marry Jenny Calbert as fast as you can.” And I’d say, yeah, definitely, I’d say, “Get a mentor.” I don’t know if the 20-year-old me would have gone for that.

Ray Hilbert: Yeah.

Jon Acuff: But I think, too, from a business perspective, something hyper practical, I’d say, “Care about your email list, not just social media.” Because I think it’s really easy to get stuck on the shininess of social media and forget that the brick by brick building of an email list, where you get to serve an audience, is really important, too.
It’s not sexy. Retweets feel better. But what’s going to serve you in the long run is being able to email people and communicate with them. So I would have, from a tactical, practical way, I would’ve said, “Hey, be hard about this specifically.”

Ray Hilbert: Oh, that’s fantastic. So, just a word of advice or encouragement for our audience. Let’s say that someone’s listening, and maybe they’re a Christ follower, they’re in business, they’re a marketplace leader, they’re struggling, they’re discouraged, they’re in a dark place, or whatever. What word of encouragement or advice would you be open to sharing that might just help them discover who and what God’s created them to be, to give them that boost of encouragement?

Jon Acuff: Yeah, I guess I’d … From a very specific, I’d say, “Read Zephaniah 3:17.” I think it’s a really encouraging verse. It’s just jam packed with hope. So I think that’s always a good go to for me. The second thing I’d say is, “You’re not supposed to be carrying it alone. Chances are, you’re trying to carry too much by yourself.”

Ray Hilbert: Yeah.

Jon Acuff: So the challenging thing is when you get stuck, you tend to isolate, which is the last thing you need to be doing. It’s actually helpful if you can reach out to people, which isn’t easy. Sometimes I don’t like when people give advice like, “Tell 10 people this this semester.” You’re like, “I might not even know 10 safe people.” Let’s start with one. Tell one friend this is what I’m going through, or one friend, like, “Hey, this is something that I’m struggling with,” or, “This is something I feel doubt with.”
I think it’s really valuable when you’re in that situation to get a second opinion. And then the third thing I’d say is write some of it down. I’m not saying you need to journal in some amazing way, like people on Instagram who are illustrating their whole Bible with 3D images of doves popping off the page.
I just mean write down a couple of things. Here’s how I’m feeling, and write it down, because there’s a power to seeing what you’re actually thinking on paper, and I think it’s helpful, and I think it gives you a starting point. And so yeah, those would be the three things that I’d encourage somebody to do.

Ray Hilbert: Fantastic. Jon, what is the best way for anyone listening to this conversation to learn more, to connect with you, to become a follower? What’s the best way for them to get in touch?

Jon Acuff: Well, my website is Acuff, ACUFF.me. Dot M-E. Instagram, I’m Jon Acuff, J-O-N-A-C-U-F-F. Finish is my most recent book, and probably the easiest avenue into the things I like to write about. And then Twitter, Jon Acuff. And so yeah, usually, if you can Google Jon Acuff, you’ll be able to find me.

Ray Hilbert: Very good. Very good. Thank you. Well, John, those who have listened to our program regularly know that the last question I always ask is what I call my 423 question. It’s based out of Proverbs 4:23, where Solomon writes these words, he says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life.”
So I always ask as the last question, my guest, if you could just imagine yourself at the end of your life on earth, and you’re getting ready to enter into eternity, and you have a chance to gather your family, your friends, your loved ones, those who are most precious to you, and you have a chance to pass along one single piece of advice, Jon, would you fill in the blank for us? What would be that advice, above all else?

Jon Acuff: I think I would say, “Delight yourself in the Lord.” I think I would say, “Delight yourself in the Lord.” And that’s Proverbs 37:4, “And he will give you the desires of your heart.” I think that’s what I would say.

Ray Hilbert: That is beautiful. That is beautiful. Well, Jon, thank you for being our guest here at Bottom Line Faith. I know you’re a lot going on, and you’re getting ready to go out on a tour even this week, but I just can’t thank you enough for offering your words of encouragement and your time here, so thank you so much.

Jon Acuff: Well, thanks for having me.

Ray Hilbert: Well folks, there you have it. Another incredible episode here at Bottom Line Faith, and you know, just an amazing conversation with Jon Acuff. And if you want to check out and learn more about Jon, again, his website was Acuff, and that’s A-C-U-F-F, as in Frank, dot M-E. That’s also referenced in the show notes, so you can click and get a direct connection there.
Jon’s just another great example of what we’re trying to do here at Bottom Line Faith, and that’s bring you top thought leaders, bring you amazing entrepreneurs and marketplace influencers who are followers and lovers of Jesus, and who are living out their faith every day in the marketplace. And that’s our encouragement to you.
That’s our gift to you here at Bottom Line Faith, is that, while you’re running your business, as you’re leading your company, that you can take these principles and these stories and use them as inspiration and encouragement for you to live out your faith, as well.
Thanks for being with us today. We’d love it if you would be so gracious to go online and offer a positive review of our conversation today. That’s one of the best things you can do to help us get the word out. That helps us in the search engine placements, and all those things. So until next time, I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith, Ray Hilbert, encouraging you to live out your faith every day in the marketplace. God bless, and we’ll see you next time.

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