Faith Driven Business' conference correspondent Melissa Hawks shares what she learned about screwed up heroes at the 2014 Storyline Conference, with a special shout out to NYT bestselling business author Jon Acuff, whose 15-word sentence will shatter how you think about success and failure.

Screwed up heroes. They’re our favorites, aren’t they? Flawed and imperfect. They speak to the visceral part of us that says, “Yes! That’s me.”

Storyline Conference and Jon Acuff. I ran into them both in San Diego a couple weeks ago and the story I’m living is better for it. They reminded me about screwed up heroes and how to embrace the one inside myself.

Ever felt like a screwed up hero? An entrepreneur with a bold dream in spite of all your flaws?

You’re not alone.

Until this point I’ve pretty much avoided writing about Jon Acuff. My reasons have been two-fold. (I love that phrase. It’s so official and mature sounding.) One being he’s my friend, and I rarely use the names of people I know when writing. Two, I know how Jenny likes that greying head of his so I’d prefer it didn’t swell and explode. Kidding. People. Calm down. Seriously, though. I can’t talk about Storyline and screwed up characters making the best heroes without discussing Jon’s talk.

Let me preface this by just stating what we all know to be true.

Jon Acuff only speaks in 140 characters.

This is not an urban myth, folks. It is an actual reality. Tweets flow from his mouth like #alltheawkward does from mine.

This does not make sitting in one of his sessions at any sort of conference an easy thing. You have to make a choice going in. Do you sit back, enjoy, and laugh your tail off? Or do you dig in your heels, share the wisdom with your audience, and walk out with carpal tunnel in an hour and a half? I usually choose the latter and even though it’s been a couple weeks since the conference, those choice bits are still being retweeted.

Screwed up heroes. Donald Miller started it out by saying, “People who are used by God to do amazing things also do really dumb things.” Yes. That. The same passion that drives us to be brilliant and change the world causes us to make unwise choices. Obvious yet profound.

Screwed up heroes. Randall Wallace, writer of Braveheart. He talked about pitching the project to Mel Gibson, explaining the very heart of it. Pounding on the table between them, spit flying in Mel’s face, he said, “What you have to understand is if you’re faithful to your heart even if they cut it out of you, you will prevail!” Even when no one else understands. Even when the world thinks you look the fool. Even then.

And then we come to Jon. We come to the tweet. We come to the words that walked up, punched me in the throat, and set me free.

Screwed up heroes. Jon Acuff. Professed quitter, starter, and prodigal. Dreamer and builder. Maybe this one is a bit like us. He’s just said something hilarious and the audience is in the palm of his hand. Pausing for effect, he leans back.

“The truth is,” Jon Acuff says, “God will never be handcuffed by your failures or unleashed by your successes.”

And a thousand brains explode.

Because all the things we’ve been taught have just been blown to bits. We have always heard things like, “If you don’t do it, who will? God needs you to do this NOW.” The weight of all of those expectations that have burdened this entire room of screwed up heroes is suddenly lifted. And understanding begins to dawn.

God can use my choices. Wise and unwise. Brilliant and terrifying for his purposes because he is the most amazing writer of all time. And he sees the end from the beginning. He already knows which step or misstep this screwed up hero is going to take.

As he was ending the conference, Donald Miller said this: “Great characters are often lazy, often afraid, often act selfishly but in the end follow through and destroy the Death Star.”

Screwed up heroes. All of you. Stand up. Be brave. Be faithful to your heart. Know your failures will not stop you. Your successes will not burden you. Climb out of the pit you have fallen into, you screwed up hero, and fly high. You were created for this. It’s your story. Live it.

Article appeared originally at Faith Driven Business. Used with permission.

Melissa Hawks is a curator of brand and story at Hawks & Rock. She is discovering what it means to write her own story on the road to redemption and how God lives in the detours. For her personal brand of awkward, space geekyness, and inspiration follow her @melissahawks on Twitter and find her writing on Medium at https://medium.com/@MelissaHawks. Branding wisdom can be found at her company’s account @hawksandrock and at the Hawks & Rock website and blog at hawksandrock.com.

Publication date: July 22, 2014