Ministry According to Will Smith

Will Smith.jpg
USA Today Photo
I enjoy watching movies, especially with Christina. Some of my favorite actors are in the likings of De Niro and Pacino. But more recently, I have been slowly enjoying Will Smith (I still can’t believe he was The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).

For the promotion of his new movie, Seven Pounds, Smith did an interview with Donna Freydkin for USA TODAY. You can read the article here.

As I was reading the transcript of the interview, I couldn’t help but to notice that some of the factors that are attributing to his success are really biblical principles for ministry. Here is a summary of the factors:

1) Think globally. Smith says, “[Any film] has to be extraordinary, it has to be entertainment, it has to be art [and be] delivered to all people of the world.”

2) Talent at the top. Smith chooses to work with the best. In this case, he chose to work with Gabriele Muccino who directed him to an Oscar nomination in 2006. He said, “[Gabriele Muccino] takes me to places that I’d never choose myself.”

3) Mix it up, to a point. Smith says, “I have to challenge myself and push myself. My only job is to make sure I don’t leave anything on the table, that I maximize what a young dude from Philly can do in the world of cinema. There’s no telling what I can create at this point.”

4) Preserve the Smith brand. Smith makes sure that he remains consistent with the image he portrays. He says, “By being famous, you’re afforded rights that other people who aren’t famous aren’t afforded. If I’m going to walk to the front of the line (at the restaurant) because I’m Will Smith, then I have to sign all the autographs. If I don’t want to sign any autographs, I don’t walk to the front of the line. It’s that simple. Stand in the line with everybody else.”

5) Cross color lines. Smith grew up in Philadelphia and “attended a mostly white Catholic elementary school and a mostly African-American high school… lived in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, attended a Baptist church and admired the Muslim girls who lived one street over.” Smith learned that laughter is a unifying thing that is universal.

6) Be master of your domain. Smith says, “I was reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and he talks about the concept of 10,000 hours. That you don’t really settle into any level of mastery until 10,000 hours, and I feel like I’ve just completed my 10,000 hours of story structure and filmmaking.” Muccino, his director says, “He’s very firm with his own ideas and considerations about things. He doesn’t change his mind easily. If he says no, it’s no. If he says yes, it’s yes. He’s a man of his word. In Italy we call them men of honor.”

7) Leave nothing to chance. “Jada and I sat down and asked, ‘Where do we see ourselves?’ We went to 40 years from now. We see ourselves some place where there are seasons. That’s a big thing for Jada. We think there’s mountains. We think we live on a golf course. We don’t have more children – we have grandchildren. We are the greatest philanthropists that America has ever seen. We’re going to try and get up there with Bill and Melinda Gates. We talked through all the elements of where we want to be so we can start, in this moment, designing our life toward that.”

As I read these seven factors, I realized this is what separates a lot of people who are in the ministry. Here is my take on the seven factors mentioned above but in the context of ministry.

1) Think internationally. The people who have a heart for the nations are going to be spearheading a lot of things in the future.

2) Hang out with people who will challenge you.
Find some people who are doing what you envision yourself doing in the future and hang out with them and learn from them. Let them ask you questions. Let them challenge you. Let them impart things to you.

3) Don’t settle for mediocrity, strive for excellence.
Too often we rest on our laurels. It is the human tendency to look at all the things that we have accomplished, rather than looking ahead and finding ways to improve (even charting new territories). In ministry, if you snooze, you lose.

4) Integrity. Ministry always comes down to trust. If you lose it, then it is really hard to gain it back. What you represent and who you represent make all the difference. I have always said, “Character is the container to carry your convictions.”

5) Transculturalism.
The world is getting more multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. If we are not going beyond (trans-) our own comfortable cultural, then we are going to be consider irrelevant and left in the dust. We have to be willing to go through the discomforts and difficulties that come with trying to understand each other.

6) Be known for the one thing (it is usually tied in with your passion).
So often we want to do a lot of things well, but in reality we end up becoming a “jack of all trades” but not perfecting anything. Let’s play a word association game – Billy Graham (what do you think of), James Dobson (what do you think of), and the list goes on and on. Find the “one thing” that you are passionate about and do it well.

7) Always have a vision. It has been said, “If you aim at nothing, then you will hit it every time.” People in the ministry who are listening to God’s voice and discerning where God wants them to go are the ones that will do great things. Things do not happen by coincidence or chance. Often times it is planned, prepared, and prayed for so that God will ultimately receive all the glory.

Spiritual ENTREPRENEUR, Church EQUIPPER, Leadership EDUCATOR, Ideas EXPERIMENTER & Global EXPLORER who is trying to transform lives and transform the world.
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