True Strength

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Today my son Ryan shares his early entrepreneurial journey with us, lessons learned, and how it led him to find his True Strength by reconnecting with his faith in Christ. Here is his story:

“Dillon! …You son of a b**h!”

(*an extra large handshake turned arm wrestle battle ensues*)

“What’s the matter? The CIA got you pushing too many pencils?”

Some of you may recognize the reference, if not, this is an iconic scene from the movie Predator, released in 1987.

More specifically, the scene where Arnold Schwarzenneger’s character Dutch, meets up with Carl Weathers’ character Dillion, in an epic, beefy handshake.

Growing up, Arnold was my idol, and even though I was not born until three years after Predator’s release, I was exposed to this scene early in life and it became my north star in my own leadership adventure.

Arnold’s story was the epitome of strength and leadership to me as a young man. A poor immigrant turned the world’s most famous bodybuilder, turned movie star, turned politician, turned philanthropist – there was nothing this guy could not accomplish. 

Studying the life of Arnold, I (foolishly) concluded that leadership and strength meant three things: money, women, and influence. I decided over the next ten years I would dedicate my life to accomplishing these things. 

Like most people in their young 20’s I was searching for a way to find purpose and fill the void I felt in my life. I had to prove myself to the world through my accolades and strength, like Arnold has.

The only problem was at 20 years old, I had no money, I recently broke up with my girlfriend, and the only influence I had was over when I would feed my four pound mincher pinscher puppy. 

Dutch and Dillon would be ashamed…

I became obsessed with “reverse engineering” the success of Arnold. Every little detail about his life I would study, analyze, implement, and succeed in. 

Through a clear vision and intense work ethic, slowly but surely I was becoming more and more like Dutch, but strangely the void in my life was seemingly widening.

Over the years this led to me competing in four state bodybuilding shows, launching a successful fitness business, and marrying the woman of my dreams.

Close to age 30, I remember literally checking off my list:

  • Money
  • Women
  • Influence

I was…

  • … nearing a million dollars in revenue
  • … married to who I thought was my dream wife
  • … respected and admired by of thousands of people in my community

Yet I did not feel strong. I felt weak, fraudulent, and empty.

I had accomplished everything I had dreamed of, yet the void remained.

Luckily, through God’s grace, He drew me to Himself, exposed the sin in my life, and saved me.

My strength and leadership was self serving…

  • …it was self reliant
  • …it was to glorify myself

I discovered that true strength is at the foot of the cross, the power of the Gospel, the saving work of Jesus Christ.

God created in me a new heart of obedience and service.

Lucky for me, as my mentor always says, Jesus was a bodybuilder: 

Ephesians 4:11-12 “11 And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for works of ministry and to build up the body of Christ.”

These days my main source of bodybuilding is being faithful to the work God has instructed I am responsible for.

My new checklist is:

  • Serve God
  • Serve my Family
  • Serve His People

This will be a lifelong endeavor, one filled with trials that require endurance and a strength that is not my own.

I still smile and have fond memories whenever I re-watch that epic scene from Predator. Though now instead of inspiration, I use it as a reminder to always ask myself two important questions, I hope it will help you do the same:

  1. Where does my source of strength come from?
  2. Who am I really serving in my life’s leadership adventure?

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