Tag Archives: inspiration

Stephen David Leonard Two Year Anniversary

Celebrating Two Years!

If not for you, I wouldn’t be able to write this post today! Because you engage, read, and support my online shop, Stephen David Leonard continues to grow and reach tens of thousands of people and more all the time.

The past two years, watching stephendavidleonard.com come to life and grow so fast has been an amazing experience. I can’t believe it’s already been two years this month I launched Stephen David Leonard into the world!

Following Your Dream

Have you ever had vision, or a dream or a passion you felt terrified to try, but knew you had to do it anyway? Maybe you shared your dream with a few close friends and family only to be discouraged away from it?

“Why can’t you be content with what you have?” some ask. “Hmm, do you think you have what it takes?” others question. “Do you really have something unique to put out there?” others challenge.

I’ve had a few different seasons in my life. Professional student (actually, I was an amateur—I never got paid!), Pastor, small business leader, entrepreneur, CEO. After working hard behind the scenes for so long it was terrifying to launch a project in my own name and to step out of the shadows into the forefront.

It feels easier to champion someone else than to put your own creativity, your own thoughts and passions into the world. I have many days I question why I ever launched stephendavidleonard.com at all.

Inspiring to Live the Life You Were Created to Live

Why is it so important to put the Stephen David Leonard brand into the world?

I started Stephen David Leonard back in 2017 because my mission is to inspire people like you to live the life they are created to live. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be who I thought people wanted me to be. I’ve worn various masks over the years trying to fit in and be accepted.

Fearing I would be rejected for who I really am, I gave my energy to being who I thought people wanted me to be. In doing so, I ignored myself and the way I am put together.

Made In God’s Image

A few years ago, through reading the Bible, therapy, and the help of mentors, I saw some words at the beginning of the Bible through a new lens. In the book of Genesis it says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

I’ve read those words many times—even preached sermons on them when I was a pastor. But I missed how important those words are for us.

We are made as images of God—reflections of God in the world. We are his creations, with inherent dignity, embodying different parts of God’s character and nature to one another.

Designs Reflect the Designer

As a designer and entrepreneur, I am amazed at the way the things we create reflect us. Whether it’s a piece of jewelry, a song, a story, or even a business our creations reveal something about who we are.

 How you ever notice how you can hear a song you’ve never heard by your favorite band and immediately recognize it’s them? It’s the same with God, when he creates, his creations reflect him.

But when he made humans, he purposefully made us to be embodied images of him in the world. Have you ever been to a museum, or read in a history book and seen the little statues of gods in temples in the ancient world?

Those statues are representations of the gods they signify. They physically embody characteristics of the god. The statue might be a bull to represent strength. The statue might look like a crocodile to reflect the god’s power.

The images of the gods and goddesses helped the people worshipping the god understand who the god is. In the same way, God made us to be living, breathing representations of himself so we understand who he is.

Designed with Purpose

This means we are designed with purpose! Each of our personalities, talents, and interests reflect different parts of God! Understanding God has designed each of us intentionally and with a purpose has changed my life.

I know I am made with inherent dignity as an image bearer. I know I am loved. I know I have been given my own talents and strengths. And I know the same is true for you. You are created with dignity, you are loved and you have been given your own talents and strengths.

Many people struggle against a sense of lack of purpose, career misfit, even disconnection from their true selves. But when we know God has designed each of us, we can see his design in our lives and find new purpose. It may mean a new career, a new way of relating to people, a new way to volunteer, a new hobby, or even a renewed way of living.

Sharing My Journey

The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians he was, “ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” Through Stephen David Leonard my goal is to share not only my insights as a veteran pastor, parent, husband, and entrepreneur, but also my own self as someone who has learned helpful insights along my journey.

Marriage

I have experienced a marriage crisis leading to healing and greater intimacy. Marriage is a crucible where we come face to face with the hardest truths about ourselves. It’s also a place where we can truly know and be known by another.

Children

I am privileged to be raising two amazing boys. I walk in the pain and joy of raising a son with a severe disability and another son who has an insightful mind and artistic soul. I have experienced the suffering and pain of parenthood in the midst of the happiness of watching my boys thrive.

Depression

I have battled depression on and off most of my life. Feelings of unworthiness, rejection, and self-doubt. Understanding I am created in God’s image is one of the single most grounding truths giving me something to hang on to in dark moments.

Spiritual Life

I live out of a deep faith in Jesus and have devoted years to studying and teaching the Bible in school and on my own. I do not expect everyone to see everything the way I do. I do believe I have something to offer whether you come from the same spiritual starting place or not as humans are spiritual beings.

Designs to Inspire

In addition to sharing my story and learnings, I create designs to inspire and help you as you find and live your own purpose. Whether it’s a keychain you carry in your pocket, a bracelet you see on your wrist, or a bag over your shoulder (and more!), each SDL design is a reminder of your own unique design and the life you are made to live.

Thank You

I started Stephen David Leonard to share what I have learned and to help you in your journey to discover God’s design for your life. From the content I share, to the ways I open up my life to the product on my site, everything here is about inspiring you to live the life you are created to live!

Thank you for letting me join you on your journey!

I’m an Artist

Matthias Drawing at a Pub in England

Matthias Drawing at a Pub in England

I am not an artist, our youngest son Matthias is. He will tell you readily. When a person meets him, it is the number one label he gives to himself. And who am I to argue? Wherever we go and whatever we’re doing, Matthias has a pad of paper and a pencil. He has spent hours drawing on tables at restaurants, in waiting rooms, in the UCLA cafeteria while we wait for his brother during doctor appointments, up in his bed at night, and just about anywhere else he can find to pull up and start drawing.

Matthias Drawing at Lunch

Matthias Drawing at Lunch

Last year for Mother’s Day, He decided to make a book for Lisa. Of course it would be a superhero book. (What else would mom want anyway?) To make it special he decided it would be a book of superheros with names beginning at A and going to Z. And, each chapter (yes, I said chapter) needed to have at least three superheros. In the end it was 52 solid pages of superhero awesomeness–not bad for an 8 year old kid! (I won’t mention how I thought it would be a good idea to bind it and make color copies for grandparents, aunts and uncles. I worked it out in my head and the cost seemed pretty reasonable. Until we picked it up. Let’s just say, it’s the most expensive Mother’s Day gift to date.) Of course, we were impressed that the first book out of the Leonard house came by the hand of our 8 year year old son.

Matthias Drawing at a Restaurant

Matthias Drawing at a Restaurant

Now, it goes without saying that I love this kid and am a proud dad. Am I bragging? A little bit. Do I want everyone to know what an awesome kid Matthias is? Yes. But that’s not why I share all this. I share it because Matthias is an artist and he pursues it with the abandon of a child. He’d love for everyone to love his art. But that’s not why he draws. He draws because he loves to draw. He loves to create. He doesn’t worry whether people will like his drawings. He doesn’t get hung up about what to draw. He just draws. It’s pure and it’s beautiful.

Matthias Drawing at Church

Matthias Drawing at Church

As I get ready to turn 40 this year, I find I have never been so willing to let expectations and perceptions shape my pursuits. But how much do I do these days because I love it? How often do I identify myself with the things I love to do? I’m a writer. I’m a speaker. I’m a preacher. I’m a singer. I’m a cyclist. Even worse, how often do I engage in these activities and find every square inch there is in which to fit these things into my life? Not enough. I’m on a journey to do just that. I want to be more like my son, who now 9, has multiple books and art projects in the works because it’s who he is. I want you to join me. What do you love that you put off for 100 excuses? Let’s share and encourage each other!

Punching Fear in the Face

51SmKf8ZbuLAs many of you know, I’ve been seeking direction for the next phase of life for a while now. Today, I decided to punch fear in the face and do something. Let me explain. Lisa recently brought home a pre-release version of  Jon Acuff’s new book Start and in many ways the cover irked me so much (I mean check out the phrases “Punch Fear in the Face,” “Escape Average,” “Do Work that Matters” who IS this guy??) that I picked up the book and read it. The book is a reminder that the path to success has changed. Age doesn’t matter the way it did in the past. We all still pass through the phases of Learning, Editing, Mastering, Harvesting and Guiding and we might find ourselves learning at 60 or 40 or 30. His challenge is to “discover your awesome” whatever it is, whether it connects with a title or not, and START pursuing it.

This brings me to this post. Acuff challenges us to list our fears out–journal them so you can see them. Then to systematically write down what’s bogus about each and every one. I just filled three pages of my journal with fears that hold me back. Fears that prevent me from writing blog posts. Fears that keep me complaining about my life rather than pursuing my life. By the time my hand was too tired to keep writing, I was inspired to dust off this blog site and share. If you relate, read this book. If you don’t…well, I don’t totally believe you. If you relate but have already started and keep punching fear in the face in your own way–I’d love to hear your story! Maybe we can journey together and cheer each other on in doing work that matters. Either way, I’m starting.