10 Years of Marriage – The Best Partner

I met Tenika Benjamin, now Butler, in 2002. My good friend, Tony Carpenter, from high school introduced me to her one night after church. I was immediately enamored by her beauty, speech and height. She was absolutely fine and someone that I wanted to know more about. However, I was all jacked up…. see I had recently became a Christian and was trying to sort out the brokenness in my own life. I was a good kid, made good grades, made good decisions – for the most part and I had two amazing parents! However, I had come from a broken home… my parents divorced when I was 9 and I could count on my fingers how many times I had been to church or had an encounter with God from the ages of 9 to 18. Again, my parents were/are both AMAZING… but I needed Jesus to help fill in the gaps and retrain my mind on the spiritual things I missed out on growing up.

We started serving alongside each other with other believers in various ministries shortly after we met. I was a blur to her but for some reason I couldn’t shake this thought/feeling that I wanted to be with this girl. My intensity grew for her more as I saw how dope she was. She was a Proverbs 31 woman before I even knew Proverbs had a 31. More, she absolutely loved God, preached integrity and maintained integrity, was modest, had morals and naturally being a man… I was attracted to her figure. Eventually, we accepted our call to preach the Gospel of the Jesus Christ around the same time and had many of the same ideas and thoughts about God, the church, folk and life.

I never approached her or asked her out on a date until one dreadful day in January 2004.

After a couple of years of seeing this woman serve in the church I finally mustered up the courage to tell her how I felt over the phone after a church event and bowling one night. I was greeted by a disconnected dial tone. #truth, I cried very hard that night because the woman of my dreams had rejected me. Glenn Simpson and Jeremy Canon, my friends, can testify of this today. Now, I’m not Idris Elba or Forrest Whittaker (the eye) either… I handsomely think I’m somewhere in between, but this had never happened to me before.

Over the next few days we had one conversation in which she told me that she’d let me know how she felt after church that Sunday. The suspense was building. My dreadful day turned into a dreadful week because when she finally told me how she felt, the feelings weren’t the same. I felt like “the dude who was always going to be the fine girl’s bestfriend”. I was stuck – she said and I quote, “You’re not my type”. I took her comments as a “yo momma so ugly joke”. I’m a BUTLER, it’s in the blood… or at least I thought. She reluctantly went on a date with me the following week… why? I don’t know. The story gets a bit blurry for me around this part and maybe it’s because I was so happy… but what I do know is this… we went to Subway and I brought with me a box of pictures. They were my life and 95% of them had me in them. More, 50% of the pictures were of me and other girls or girls only. I had a “prized” cheerleader picture from my ex-girlfriend in 8th grade that I was proud of, prom pictures of yours truly with other girls and etc… I mean this was no way to win over the heart of the woman who’d eventually be my wife – I wanted to show her how cool (or niave) I was. I was self-centered and very insecure.

Through my past, struggles and guilt I never felt like I was good enough. I had condemned myself to lose the race before ever getting into the starting blocks.

However, God was at work through my first interactions with Tenika. He began to reveal to me his unconditional love and plan to make me whole in Him. I was tired of being broken, self-centered and insecure. I wanted to give myself away to something greater than myself. Over the next four months God began to transform my thoughts, pour into my life and take me on a journey that would help mold me into the man I am today.

We had a few more dates but I was still in the Forrest Whitaker category up until April 4, 2004. I walked out of my college dorm and answered the phone. To my surprise she explained to me how she felt and heard in her spirit that God wanted her to be with me. The funny thing is… I was going to call her up that day and tell her, “this just ain’t working because I can’t be your ugly bestfriend”. Miraculously the ugly duckling became a beautiful “man” swan over night. But God.

We began courting that day and through accountability, mentors an fathers & mothers in the faith abstained from sex until we got married. It was tough but we got through it.

I asked her to marry on Christmas Day 2004 and we tied the knot on September 17th, 2005.

There have been many bumps, bruises and detours along our journey. Nonetheless, the amount of love, joy, peace and blessing have far outweighed any temporary pain and past shortcomings.

She has stuck by my side as a invaluable confidant and asset to my life. She’s more than a trophy wife or a prized possession. Her beauty is finer than gold or rubies. Her wisdom prepares me to go to war and my heart lies safely with her. When:

  • We had our first child
  • God called me to pastor students for a season of life
  • Was hurt behind church politics, ministry philosophy & BS and needed healing from confusion, unforgiveness, anger and hurt
  • People deserted me after I stepped down from pastoring
  • Or when I went through a period of slap crazy disobedience before God
  • Had our second child
  • Started my business: Kingdom Life Media that specializes in church media

She’s been a mainstay, a bag of chips and more.

I’m grateful that I found my bestfriend at such a young age. The best partner in life is someone who is bold enough to you the truth and humble enough to admit when they are wrong. I have that in my wife, Tenika Butler.

I’m humbled that she has allowed me to walk with and lead her and my kids on this journey.
Many more years to come!

Blessings,
Jeremy Butler

Proverbs 31:10-31
[b]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

What Is A Brand?

A lot of people (wannapreneurs, entrepreneurs and dreamers) assume that a brand is a logo or the color palette you use. However, in essence a logo and color palette are just integrated components of a much larger idea and system that helps establish who you are and your connection to those who’ll receive the ideas, products or services you offer and then provide some type of feedback.

More, it’s important to clarify terms before building out your idea, product or service. You want to be a good steward or manager of how you invest your time, money and resources so that you don’t have to start over due to a faulty foundation. You cannot afford to skip over fundamentals in building your “Baby”. A brand can be likened to the child rearing process. In order for a child to grow healthy, strong and productive the family must take steps to ensure the child’s success. When these steps are realized and action is taken it could mean the world of a difference in that child becoming a productive citizen or something {other}.

People and organizations who are in the business of building brands use terms, phrases and definitions that help establish a framework (body of work or structure) for common ground. Frameworks help keep everyone on track and moving in the same direction as a unit. If you truly want to build a meaningful brand then you’ll need to become familiar with the standard terms, phrases, definitions and frameworks. I’ve compiled a list of question that will help tackle a basic branding framework. So, let’s jump into it:

What is a brand?

A brand can be the name of something or someone, terms, designs, symbol or other feature that helps differentiate one organization or person from another. As competition increases people look for ways to stand out and connect with their customers so that they can build lifelong relationships, ultimately win their dollars and loyalty.

Entrepreneurs and businesses are only as strong as their brands.

What is brand identity?

Brand Identity is when all of the different elements (design, logo, website, messaging, products, services, customer service and much more) come together as one united front to appeal to the five senses.

What is branding?

Branding is seizing every opportunity to explain and express to “FOLK” why they should choose your brand over the competition. It’s an art and discipline because it can be created and studied.

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer. – Seth Godin

How do you establish brand identity without losing who you are?

Brand Identity is when all of the different elements or components (design, logo, website, messaging, products, services, customer service and much more) come together and form one united front to appeal to the five senses of a customer or prospective customer. You want to present your best in a unified way that helps people connect the dots from one medium to the next.

What makes you different? How do you stand out?

This is huge! A brand needs to be able to harness their uniqueness and propel itself toward it’s intended audience. The average person passes 1,000’s of brands every day to and from work. These brands are all jockeying for attention and the ones that stand out will increase their brand awareness, expand their reach and hopefully earn your business.

What is branding to you? And how are you using it in your ideas, products and services?

Building a brand isn’t easy but someone’s gotta do it and that someone should be you! So, what are you creating and studying that’s helping you differentiate your brand and driving loyalty to your doorstep?

Top 10 Entrepreneur Quotes That Prompt Action

An entrepreneur by definition is a person who organizes, operates and assumes the risk for a business venture. So, how does an effective entrepreneur manage to stay motivated in the midst of heavy workloads and projects. Well, for one, entrepreneurs who want to produce at high levels need to consume material that helps them build and construct the ideal life, service and value they wish to manifest. And for two, don’t take my word for it; take the following 10 entrepreneurs and influencers who have had massive success in the their industries word:

  1. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. – Warren Buffett
  2. People ask me all the time, ‘How can I become a successful entrepreneur?’ And I have to be honest: It’s one of my least favorite questions, because if you’re waiting for someone else’s advice to become an entrepreneur, chances are you’re not one. – Michael Dell
  3. The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity. – Peter Drucker
  4. Part of the challenge of being an entrepreneur, if you’re going for a really huge opportunity, is trying to find problems that aren’t quite on the radar yet and try to solve those. – Sean Parker
  5. It’s good to work for someone else. Because then you appreciate it more when you are an entrepreneur. – Matt Mullenweg
  6. As an entrepreneur, you never stop learning. – Daymond John
  7. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
  8. Every entrepreneur needs ideas, vision, and creativity – no matter what the product or service. Not only that, but the product should truly delight customers and become an essential part of their lives. – Min Kao
  9. It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. – Bill Gates
  10. Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit. – Napoleon Hill

What’s one of your favorite entrepreneur quotes?

Five Tips to Help You Brand Yourself and Grow Your Business

Businesses and people, whether they are big or small, often start out at the same place when it comes to growing their influence and getting recognized. The first and most important step is to establish their brand and to make themselves stand out from the competition. As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to brand and market your business in order to help it grow. Here are five tips that can help you find success with this process.

Focus on a Single Brand Idea for Your Business

Most people who start businesses will have a limited amount of funds and resources, no matter how well funded they may be. So the business needs to focus the bulk of its efforts and resources on marketing and branding their product. The most successful products and services have well known and easily recognizable brands. Look at the big names like Apple and Microsoft – they market their company more than the individual projects. Their brand is what sells all of the individual products. If you offer writing services you will market yourself as your company and a writer – the fact that you do blogs, articles, website, editing, grammar, and everything else will come as secondary advertising and promotion, but your overall brand should reflect you as a writer. So keep this in mind as you work on branding your own business and personal influence.

Know Your Audience, What They Want, and How to Serve Them

Often times, the best form of advertising you have for your business is the customer base you already have. Word of mouth can be the most powerful for of advertising – because people tend to believe what friends and family tell them more than what they read online or on a business website.

When you know who you are targeting with your product and service you can work to make sure their unique needs are met.

If you cater to the older or retired population your advertising, marketing, and branding will be much different than if you were targeting millennials and younger generations. When your brand is targeting your specific audience, it is much more successful and you will generally do a better job reaching your audiences, encouraging them to buy from you, and will likely get more referrals from them.

Focus on Service With Speakers and Workshops

A company has a single overall brand – no matter how many individual products and services they may offer. Multiple brands will diffuse your energy and resources, and confuse customers. If you are working in electronics or technology you will have your main business and then will offer multiple products. This is the sort of marketing and business planning you need to instill in your employees, and one of the best ways to do that is with workshops, motivational speakers, conferences, and routine meetings to help keep everyone motivated and on track. Business conference speakers can be a great source of knowledge and inspiration for your company and the speaker’s bureau is a great place to look for these speakers.

Create a Website That Connects Customers to Your Business

Whether you’re operating from a brick-and-mortar shop or selling exclusively online, it is critical to your success to have a good website for your business. When it comes to making your own website, there are several goals you need to keep in mind:

  1. Making money off of sales on your site
  2. Getting people to come back to your site again and again
  3. One is drawing more traffic to your site

A strong web design that is SEO friendly is the best way to accomplish these three goals. You want to have a responsive website and you want to show up in search results so new customers can discover you and returning customers can find you again. Click here for more tips on how to start a website.

Be Sure to Engage in Social Media Promotion

This is the digital age and it is the age of instant sharing – of both good and bad news. If you have poor service or poor product reviews it is not just limited to the customer anymore – now there is the potential for hundreds or thousands of people to hear about it. That is why it is important that you have a strong and active role in social media. When you promote yourself and are in contact with customers and reaching out to the community, you can work to rectify problems, keep your company in a positive light, and reach more people with your goods and services.

Businesses, whether they are big or small, need to start out at the same place when it comes to growing their business and getting recognized. It is a hard road and there are many obstacles you will have to work around and overcome in order to be successful. As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to brand yourself and market your business in order to help it grow.

Happy Father’s Day – Growing up with Heathcliff Huxtable, Uncle Phil and Carl Winslow

I grew up with Heathcliff Huxtable, Uncle Phil and Carl Winslow! They loved hard, worked hard, played hard and set the PACE hard. And might I add, they were all fathers and not just to their own. These TV dad’s epitomized what fatherhood looked like in the American and African American context. They made us laugh, cry and think through some very difficult societal issues like racism, fatherhood and sex; but they always had their family in the forefront of their minds as they made decisions.

Today, it’s no secret that fathers receive little to no recognition and lack the honor due to them in our society. It’s rare to see fathers praised in public or even appreciated for their manliness. Why is that?

Our culture has highjacked the beauty and honor of fatherhood and turned it into the ugly step cousin who pees in the bed that no one wants to sit by at family gatherings.

Somewhere down the road fatherhood became something less desirable and less dignified by our society. Somewhere down the road a father having:

  1. A loving monogamous relationship with his spouse
  2. Setting expectations for his children without cussing them out
  3. Dealing with conflict in a healthy and constructive way without resorting to violence and working hard in the office or at his dreams
  4. Making an honest living

was TRADED for

  1. Promiscuous relationships
  2. Laissez faire parenting or the absence of parenting
  3. Abandoning the post disguised as pursuing dreams, providing financially or not dealing with baby mama drama
  4. Hustling… regardless of what that hustle is

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@jeremyqbutler” suffix=”#cosby #unclephil”]Take fatherhood back regardless if you ever receive the recognition you deserve.[/inlinetweet]Take fatherhood back even if you and your ex or baby mama don’t see eye to eye. Take fatherhood back by finding ways to be active spiritually, financially, mentally, emotionally and physically in your child’s life.

When my second child, my son, was born an amazing woman, shout out to Wanda Bolton-Davis, who has been a mentor to both my wife and I for years sent us a congratulations text and part of it read, “… love your wife and live in the moment with your kids.” Today these heavy words remind me that life is a vapor and fleeting memory. When I die and I’m brought before God I will be asked how I stewarded my children’s hearts, minds and motivations. I am called to model what a father looks like in faith, hope and love to my kids. I love mothers, but mothers can’t do what a fathers can do! She can fabricate what he can do very well but she is not he. Mothers and fathers are equal, true. But they are also very distinct in nature and function (another blog for another time).

FINAL THOUGHTS
Being raised in a single parent household during the second half of my childhood… first with my mother and then with my father there are some nuggets I want to share:

    1. LOVE HARD – Show your children you love them ABOVE ALL ELSE by humbly being present, active, guarding and fighting for them
    2. WORK HARD – Earn a living… provide for them and in doing so you will model hard work to a generation who will not be familiar with your struggle but be positioned to fight their own struggles with success at their back
    3. PLAY HARD – Have fun!
    4. SET THE PACE HARD – Set expectations and don’t back down out of fear of the culture. Teach them the Right way to go so when they are old they will not depart from the foundation you have infused into them as children

Leave your thoughts below.

Happy Father’s Day Dad… this song is dedicated to you!

Power Tripping on The Story of Love

Everyone wants to be loved. Regardless of their race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion and a number of other variables that make up our makeup as human beings.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. Martin Luther King Jr.

Love is the common thread that draws, brings and calls humanity to cleave together and celebrate our unity over our disagreements. Love has the ability to spark and galvanize a movement, an idea, a concept, a revival and a way of doing life. Love when it is radically lived out outweighs, out-wins and outlasts hate. Interestingly enough the opposite of love is hate! However, in our society social, religious and innovative movements of change throw the word “Hate” around just as much as much as they throw the word “Love” around. Hate is characterized by Liberals who paint Conservatives as bigots and racists. While Conservatives posterize Liberals under the marquee of hate for their country, conservative values and traditions, religion and everything Godly. Many people in our culture position themselves or their movements around the idea of families and teams and if you’re not a part of our family and team then you’re a part of the other family and team. Essentially, what people who “belong” to a family say to another family is “Love Us or Hate Us” because their is no equilibrium. You are either with us or against us and as a matter of fact you can take it or leave it.

In many respects I disagree with our American culture that loosely uses the word “Love” regarding everything. We love food. More specifically, we love fries. We love fries dipped in ice cream. We love fries dipped in ice cream from Wendy’s. We love fries dipped in ice cream from Wendy’s at a Miami Heat Game. We love fries dipped in ice cream from Wendy’s at a Miami Heat Game. We love fries dipped in ice cream from Wendy’s at a Miami Heat Game. watching LeBron James infamously score 61. We love fries dipped in ice cream from Wendy’s at a Miami Heat Game watching LeBron James infamously score 61 wearing a pair of $300 shoes we will buy as soon as they drop. This repetitive cycle of misplaced and misappropriated “Love” now has morphed into the idea that anytime someone doesn’t love what we Love they hate it and aren’t in step with the latest cultural trends! Further, proving the theory that we truly don’t know what “Love” is. How wack, lame and out our senses do we have to become to accept such garbage idea based thinking? Love being deduced to an emotion that only acts, reacts and responds to a superficial concept of warm feeble and flailing fuzzies.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. – Philippians 4:8 NASB

We Power Trip on “Love” because at the end of the day we want to be accepted. We subconsciously brainwash people into accepting and believing our ideas are right and true without examining why we need and crave the attention of “Love”.

Formation Questions about “Love”:

  1. What is your definition of “Love”?
  2. How do you live out “Love” everyday with those who are indifferent?

Power Tripping Series

I’ve decided to do a series called “Power Tripping”. This series will cover a broad range of ideas, concepts, words and principles that we live and fight for every day. It’s natural, common and embedded into our human fabric to want and desire the power to rule over and change our lives. Even if ruling over our lives brings us to brink of losing ourselves in the pursuit of blessings, money, peace, pleasure and POWER.

Trust God Who Can Protect You and Your Dreams

News flash, everyone is not for you but there is One who is.

There are people and forces in life who fight hand over foot to destroy your whole FACE, obliterate life, crush self-esteem, assassinate your family and end your career through lying lips, blunt force, subtle deception, indifference and a myriad of other games because they want to see you fail.

The keys to protecting everything that relates to you and your God given dreams rest in the hands of the Dreamgiver, The Lord. If God gave you the dream then he knows how to make it come to pass with the activation of your faith moving and aligning under His purposes. The God of eternity has placed an eternal sized hole inside every man and woman before they were born that only he can fill. Therefore, your beginning, your end and your dreams all lie within him.

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NASB)

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses [a]indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23 (NASB)

If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.
– 2 Timothy 2:13 (NASB)

When you trust God with your everything, including your dreams, you don’t have to worry about the moths, the haters, the naysayers, the doubters and whoever else rears their face out of the woodworks to harm you. God is faithful to accomplish and complete the work He started in you. In addition, the beautiful thing about God’s faithfulness is that it never gives up on you even when you fail. So if you fall get back up and keep moving!

Take heart and have faith and live out what he placed within you.