New Year’s weekend was quite revealing for me. We all start the New Year thinking of what we would like to accomplish in the next year. Some set resolutions. Others shun resolutions altogether, but that doesn’t mean they don’t think about their goals for the year. I think it’s a natural tendency. As one thing ends and a new one begins, we like to dream of all the things we can do differently with that new beginning.
In filling in the long weekend’s spare time, my wife and I sat down to watch a movie. Browsing through the on-demand options, I found an interesting movie titled Walt before Mickey – a little biopic about Walt Disney’s start and rise to fame. This type of movie is right up my alley because I’m a bit of a dreamer and love stories of underdogs who succeed.
Ironically, Walt Disney wasn’t an underdog who succeeded… at least not at first. An interesting fact about Disney is that his first animation studio was forced to file bankruptcy. We all know the gist of the rest of the story. He bounced back from that failure and became the most successful animator in history.
I found a lot of inspiration in that story. For the past eight years, I’ve been living my childhood dream of flying fighter jets in the U.S. Navy. Now, coming to the end of my military career, this new beginning in 2016 is also a new beginning for my career.
God is calling me to a new start. He wants me to pursue my passion for His Kingdom now. And that’s where I find myself today, starting a Christian T-shirt company and being a Christian singer-songwriter. These are dreams that God gave me as a teenager and I’m finally pursuing them wholeheartedly.
After watching Walt before Mickey, I felt empowered and emboldened because I know God has called me to these dreams. It inspired me to be willing to chase after what God has called me to and to be fearless to fall flat on my face. I don’t think I will fall flat on my face, though, because I know I can’t be successful without God. So, I trust Him completely. You could say this trust gave me faith to stand up if I fail.
“How do you know God has called you to this?” you might ask. Well, I believe that when God gives you a dream, it becomes an incessant tug on your heart and soul. It’s more than that, though. It comes from a passion for His Kingdom and His glory. And this is what gives me inspiration.
I want to see God’s Kingdom advance. I want Candlefly Apparel to make it easy for Christians to share their faith. These are the tenets that guide Candlefly Apparel.
That’s all I think about when I’m designing a new t-shirt. I continually ask myself two questions:
1) Would you wear this? 2) Will this spark conversation?
I can’t always predict the second question. It’s difficult to tell what will spark conversation. Mostly, I rely on my sense of humor which tends to be sarcastic and a bit quirky. I try to use puns that I think might make someone laugh or question what it’s about.
For example, I was shopping for a suit shortly after I launched the company and I was wearing a Candlefly Apparel t-shirt. I told the salesperson that I liked Kenneth Cole so much that everything I was wearing was by him except the t-shirt. That drew his attention to the t-shirt and caused him to ask, “What’s Candlefly Apparel?” So while he was helping me pick out a suit, I was explaining my business ethic and sharing the Gospel.
For me, that was just further confirmation that I’m heading in the right direction. Before I started pursuing God’s will for my life, I would have shied away from talking about my faith even with a fellow Christian much less sharing the Gospel with a stranger. Now, I’ve become a little bolder about it.
I know it’s hard for many Christians to share their faith. We’ve become timid because of being told that sharing and practicing our faith encroaches on others’ rights. As a result, there’s a gap in business and conversation. Hopefully, Candlefly Apparel can fill that gap, and lead people to the ultimate gap-filler, Jesus Christ. “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6)
The only way to have any gap filled is to ask Jesus to fill it. It’s that simple. All we have to do is ask Him. We don’t have to get our act together first. We don’t have to meet a standard. All we have to do is ask.
So, what about you? Will you ask Him to fill the gap in your heart? If He’s already done so, would you be so bold as to wear a Christian t-shirt and answer someone when they ask, “What’s that about?”
Colin is the founder and CEO of Candlefly Apparel. After serving in the active duty Navy for eight years as an F/A-18F Weapons Systems Officer, he resigned from active duty to pursue God’s calling on his life which included founding Candlefly Apparel. Colin is also a singer-songwriter. You can find his music at http://www.colindyermusic.com.