(I show up briefly around 3:45 in the video. If the video doesn’t load, click here to watch it.)

What is Johnny Cupcakes? Well, it’s a clothing brand started by Johnny Earle. In 2008, BusinessWeek named Johnny at the top of its Best Entrepreneurs 25 and Under list. One thing I like about Johnny is he did it his own way, bypassing the expected or traditional route. He lasted at college for a semester before setting off on his own.

Johnny was in Omaha this past Wednesday, selling clothes and talking with people. I had the opportunity to chat with him for about five minutes. I notice a symmetry with our life stories. And, it was poignant to talk to him that night since earlier in the day I found out I was going to receive my college degree.

One of the most important decisions I made in my life was deciding not to go to college after high school. This infuriated a lot of people at the time. And, when I continued to steer clear of college, it continued to frustrate even more people.

Why not go to college? It just never seemed like the right thing. Why waste so much time and money because everyone else does it?

Instead, I got involved with missions and humanitarian work. I travelled and saw America and the world. (Belarus, Cameroon, China, El Salvador, Mexico, Nigeria, Romania) I met Jana during this time. My faith started and deepened throughout it all, and I became a licensed and ordained pastor.

For me, how necessary was it to be in a college classroom for four years? Not at all. It took a lot of hard work and commitment, a lot of sacrifice in pursuing the life I did. It wasn’t something I flippantly set out to do.

Most importantly, it was by God’s grace I was able to accomplish what I did.

Over the years, I found out that a lot of my ministry work could be credited toward a degree. The classes I’d have to take, to finish a degree, were some general requirement courses. This idea intrigued me, especially if I wanted to pursue Master’s level studies.

I took the necessary courses. Then, I had to write a paper for my senior project. The theme of the paper was on Utilizing Modern Communication Tools to Fulfill the Great Commission.

This past Wednesday, I received the email saying I would be receiving a Bachelor of Communications Ministries degree from Ecclesia College. (Ecclesia College is a part of The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).)

I didn’t set out to get a degree, yet it happened on its own. If I would’ve done what was expected of me, back when I graduated from high school, I wouldn’t be who, what, where I am today. I have gone on an unorthodox journey, and still managed to wind up with a degree. Safe to say, God knew what he was doing. He always does.

All this was going through my mind when I went to the Johnny Cupcakes event. I was thinking about how both of us could’ve done the expected, and thus accomplished little.

In one sense, it may seem crazy for me to compare myself with him. He’s a millionaire with an established brand. Me? Well, I’m rich in a different way.

It was great meeting Johnny. We talked about his brand and his fascination with tornadoes. Since he’s a Boston guy, I asked him about the Red Sox. (He thought they’d manage to turn it around because their fans nationwide would stick with them and support them.) I also asked him about any lecture media he might have. (He lectured at Creighton earlier in the year.) He said he didn’t have anything at the moment, he likes the live, organic feel when he lectures. However, he did note he needs to document his story in some form in the future. We also talked about outside-the-box thinking, and I mentioned my work at CCC. He was incredibly gracious and genuinely interested in those of us talking with him.

Check out his site at JohnnyCupcakes.com.

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