Over the last six months, Jason Wilson’s transformational training program for young men has been featured prominently in the national news, including Today and CNN and in lengthier segments on Dr. Oz and most recently, T.D. Jakes. One of his YouTube training videos reached 1.5 million viewers and inspired the TV show This is Us to copy one of his tactics for an emotional ending to their show.
You might wonder, “What’s the catch?” What new thing did Jason come up with to capture the nation’s attention? I’ve known Jason for almost two decades now and can share the story behind the story with you:
Instead of doing something new and different, Jason keeps doing the same thing every day. He is a guy who is stuck on following the call of God, regardless of how things look around him.
Jason and I worked together at University Prep High School in 2006, and the unique way he reached into the heart of students in the face of a huge brawl is a story I tell in The Jonathan Effect. The following year, Jason shifted his outreach to connect with young men through martial arts, and he’s been working on that training program for the last ten years. That’s ten years of doing the same thing every day not knowing where it will lead but knowing it’s what he is called to do. Ten years of building an organization, pursuing grants, trying to meet payroll, recruiting kids, showing up every day to give them his very best, answering their texts and phone calls at all hours of the day, and helping them through traumatic and trivial triumphs and challenges that come in life—all while being a devoted husband and father, as well as a selfless caregiver to his mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s until her death last year.
I was curious how the national media attention has changed Jason, and called him recently to find out. When we connected, he made fun of me for not calling him more often, wanted in-depth updates on my wife and kids, used a Hebrew word like I was supposed to know what it means, and then offered unsolicited and much-appreciated advice on how to handle an issue in my life, complete with a theological framework for why and what I needed to do—all within 10-15 minutes. Jason hasn’t changed a lick. This is a carbon copy of every conversation I’ve had with him throughout our friendship.
If you are struggling with a dream deferred, an aspiration you’ve longed for for longer than you can remember, don’t give up hope. Jason’s new-found “success” for his transformational training program is a reminder that the most important thing that you can do for a calling God has put on your heart may be to simply keep on doing what you are already doing, despite how difficult things around you seem right now.