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How To Be An Evangelist. This Has Nothing To Do With Religion.

February 3, 2011

Let’s talk about evangelism. Uh oh, have I scared you? Are you wondering if I’ve gone off the deep end?

If you’re anything like me then your mind is in a spiral of free associations. Those may or may not include tent revivals, Jerry Falwell, fear-mongering, Jesus Camp, fire & brimstone, and unsolicited conversions. Please trust, that’s not where I’m heading.

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Just a little bit of backstory.

This morning I was taking to a new friend, Dyana Valentine. A creative coach and personal development guru. Someone I deeply admire.

We were talking about what’s surfacing right now. You know, those woo-woo conversations about the question we’re living. The idea that’s taken hold of us right this moment.

And, Dyana was talking about her new idea. For a few months, she’s felt a shift happening. The need to contemplate a new direction for her brand & business. Recently, the kernel of this idea rose to the top of her consciousness, but she’s bucking it. Fighting it.

Why? Why is she fighting what has bubbled up from deep within her? Because the word that materialized is: Evangelist.

Whoa, nelly. Profound. Tough. Tense.

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I get the frustration. The pushing. The want to shy away from such a loaded word.

And yet, all morning I’ve been obsessed with this idea. Wondering, what else could evangelism be? What is an evangelist without religion?

So, I turned to Merriam Webster. The third entry was my a-ha moment. A goldmine. An evangelist is an enthusiastic advocate.

An enthusiastic advocate.

Someone passionately devoted to a cause or issue. An energetic expresser of ideas.

Hot damn! Don’t we need more enthusiastic advocates in the world?

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Are you familiar with Howard Thurman? The following quote has been making the rounds.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

This quote graces the back cover of the 2010 annual report for an organization here in Cambodia that I admire greatly. It’s been bookmarked on my computer ever since I first saw it in a Real Simple newsletter.

It’s the foundation of how I operate in the world. The idea that the world doesn’t need me to do what I think I should. Or even the things I could do, but don’t really care about. No, the world needs me to do the things that light me up.

Because when I’m living my question –pursuing the ideas that nag me– I am fully engaged. 100% committed. Completely in it. Devoted. Unstoppable.

And that –tenacity– is far more valuable than natural adeptness.

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So, my advice to Dyana goes as follows:

Darling, if Evangelism is what’s calling you then that’s your gift. If that’s the idea that’s doggedly pursuing you (& what makes you come alive), then you have no choice but to show up and answer it.

Be an enthusiastic advocate. Define evangelism on your terms. Improve the term. Empower it. Know that it isn’t a dirty word or a bad thing. It’s yours for the claiming.

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Dear reader, what are you an enthusiastic advocate of? Do you evangelize?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2011 9:53 pm

    yep–it came out so clear, so loud, so proud that it felt as easy as breathing: evangelist. within seconds, another part of me counter-shocked with: NO way! uhn-uh, this is NOT okay. the flood of what evangelist meant to others, what it has meant in history swept me into a self-loathing, eye-rolling swoosh. then, I looked it up and found a definition that included “celebrant of light,” which I found instantly poetic and soothing. hmmm. Okay, how about I take that word back from the violent/converting/shove-it-down-your-throat crew and make it DyVangelist? Thanks for playing with me on this, LM. Here’s a video I shot this morning that gets to it a bit: http://bit.ly/etDSWm

    • February 4, 2011 4:12 pm

      first up, the video is great. secondly, “celebrant of light” is so deliciously good. can’t wait to see what you do with it!

  2. February 8, 2011 12:32 am

    Thanks for this clarification. So let me call it a “praise” then 😀

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