SUCCESS: SHONN KEELS

After my first interview with a successful person in my life,  Mark Randall (read it here),  I got Team Impact team leader, Shonn Keels, a professional athlete who travels the world with strong-man team “Team Impact” sharing the message of God’s love and grace.  Here’s what Shonn had to say:

Shonn blowing up a hot water bottle

1.     Who is Shonn? Tell me a bit about yourself?

I am a husband, a father, a friend and a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe firmly that God has called me to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus to my neighbors and the nations until He calls me home to glory.

I love spending time with my family, working out and sharing Christ whenever possible, both personally and from the platform. I love watching movies. My favorite movies are usually military related. I like to read, mostly books on leadership and evangelism.

2.     Tell us a bit about your childhood?

I grew up in a small farming community in the southeastern part of the US in a very religious family. However, I did not surrender my life to Jesus Christ until I was 22 years of age. I grew up highly competitive and had the privilege of playing on a few championship teams in football, baseball and basketball growing up. After high school I served my country as a rescue swimmer in the Navy.

As a kid, I also loved riding motorcycles. I actually learned how to ride motorcycles before I learned how to ride a bicycle. I had my first Honda motorcycle when I was only 3 years old.

3.     What is it that you do, that would cause people to consider you successful?

My passion for evangelism and world class bench press earned me a spot on Team Impact. As a member of TI, I get to live out my dream of preaching the gospel around the world and actually get paid to work out. I am humbled and grateful that God would grant me the opportunity to serve Him in this capacity.

David, Mark, Tam & Shonn in Pretoria, 2011

4.     What lead to you deciding this was what you loved to do?

Growing up a competitive person, God planted with in me a desire to be strong physically. As a little kid I wanted to grow up and be the incredible Hulk. However, when I surrendered my life to Jesus God gave me another passion. He planted deep within my spirit the desire to make Him known to my neighbors and the nations. It has been awesome since He called me to TI where I get to live out both of my dreams: working out and sharing the gospel.

5.     What are some of your career highlights?

My career highlights as a Team Impact member in my mind happen everytime an invitation is given and people respond in faith to the gospel of the Lord Jesus. There is no greater joy than to see people receive the gift of salvation.

6.     What are three of the most  important values in your life?

Faith, hope and love are the 3 greatest virtues in my life. My top values would be: integrity, humility, generosity, excellence, and making the second mile second nature.

Shonn ministering in Pretoria, March 2011

7.     What are three absolutes for you – three things you will not compromise on?

I will not compromise on my faith. Jesus Christ is my master and I will serve Him only.

I will not compromise on my family. I do everything I can to protect my integrity and to protect my family. They are my greatest ministry.

I will only drink coca-cola; not pepsi.

8.     For the purpose of this ‘success’ journey that I am on, and the interviews that I’m doing with successful people, I’m working on a definition that “Successful people have found what they love to do, are doing it well, and are inspiring others to do it as well”.  Do you agree? And if not, what is YOUR working definition of success?

I love your definition of success. I am a firm believer if you are not doing what you were made to do quit and do what you were born to do.

9.     Who are some of the people that have contributed to your success in life? (Either people who have been directly involved, or people who have inspired you)

My father-in-law, Jay Powell, who just went home to be with the Lord last week at 88 years of age and 68 years of marriage has been one of the single greatest influences in my life. I married his daughter Bonnie when I was only 6 months old in my faith and for the last 18 years he has mentored me with both his lips and his life. He taught me about Jesus and I caught it from his life as well. He is one of my heroes of the faith.

God used one of my seminary professors to help fan into flame my gift of evangelism. He, Dr. Bill Jones, now the President of Columbia International University and Graduate School for Missions has been another hero in the faith for me.

I have learned from several through the reading of books on the topic of leadership; but, Bill Hybels from Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois has probably had the greatest influence on the developing of my leadership gift.

In the world of strength athletes Arnold Swarzaneggar (surely I misspelled his last name) has always been my hero.

10. What is the best bit of advice you believe you could share with someone who wants to follow a similar path to the one you have chosen?

Matthew 6:33

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