We all come in contact with various types of people in our lives. As we grow people come and go, and we experience ups and downs with those who are apart of that season. But I do believe it’s rare that we come in contact with people that single-handedly play a pivotal role in shaping who we are.

Today I’m writing about one of those people in my life. I met Chris Coker in passing around six or seven years ago. Back then, all I knew about him was that he was the brother to one of my close high school friends. I never thought that this sharp looking college athlete would change the way I think and pursue my goals.

I was given the privilege of working alongside Chris for two years as an intern in his family’s business. During that time we grew close as we met up every day to help make the business successful, but more importantly inspire and encourage each other into our dreams. We were a great team. We respected each other’s perspectives and supported each other’s aspirations. We both appreciated digital art and design, and some of my favorite memories consist of dancing around like crazies in the office during lunch. To say the least, the professional work relationship quickly turned into a mutual respecting friendship.

With all that being said, I highly respect Chris. His passion and drive have challenged me to stretch and think bigger. He leads by example and his willingness to invest in my life has made me a better man. So without further ado, I present to you Chris Coker.

I’ve included conversation audio below.

What’s your name, age, where are you from, what do you do as a job/occupation?

Chris: My name is Chris Coker, I’m 29 years old, I was born in VA beach to a military family. From a professional standpoint, I have what I see as a healthy balance between a professional career in systems engineering and government contracting as a consultant, and I’m also a creative director for Liberty Church here in Delaware.

From a personal side, I’m an individual that cares about people and the creative arts and how the creative arts are driving and inspiring the younger generation forward. I believe we’ve come from an area of logic and reasoning from our parents’ generation to an era that’s driven foward through art. That really interests me and that’s where my passion and free time as an individual is spent. I’m a husband for almost a year and a half and that’s been an amazing journey.

Spiritually, I see myself as beginning to step into my toddler years. I am an individual that’s been a person of faith, but not really matured until the last five years I would say. Now I’m really beginning to step into the calling God has for my life as it relates to His kingdom and my work to glorify Him.

If you only had a couple words to choose, how would you classify yourself?

Chris: Always learning. The more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. I think the evolution of understanding, wisdom, and appreciating the process of growing and learning is something that’s constantly being redefined in my life.

Problem solving. I have always enjoyed the challenge of solving problems. Specifically problems that others would tend to shy away from, problems that others would see as impractical.

Passionate and creatively inspired. I think that God gives us strengths and those strengths can easily become weaknesses. Passion can become anger or overzealousness. I think that recently the passion that God has given me is one my driving forces, and learning how to understand the flow and balance of that is a learning process in and of itself. We are all artists and creators in our own right and have been given the privilege and honor to create from a God that is creative. I think creatively inspired is the one that’s been most relevant to my life and forefront to my identity as of late.

In what practical areas and arenas has that creatively inspired identity been manifest? What does that look like?

Chris: Professionally, it’s come out in the engineering and systems design from a user experience focus. Understanding the circumstances of an individual and the way they interface with technology, and bringing the good out of that, and creating a platform that allows for social change that’s positive.

From a hobby and interest perspective, it’s definitely in the digital graphics area. Over the last year that’s really been an outlet for how I spend my free time. Especially socially in the dribbble community.

Most importantly through my work in the church with the “as one body” initiative that is now taking shape and beginning in 2016 through Liberty Church. This initiative is a way to creatively collaborate and use artists and designers in the community to creatively solve problems that speak to what others would view as the negative space of an area. The negative space is representative of how we understand and define what are focuses are, and God as our creator lives in our negative space and helps us understand that what we see as weakness is really our strength. So finding those negative space areas in communities, and getting people to gather together and creatively collaborate to solve problems for social good.

So I would like to give you an opportunity to give some context to that. I know your personal story a bit, but for the listeners, how did you end up getting to Delaware doing what you’re doing now in the space that you’re in?

Chris: Over the last 8.5 years I’ve been in the professional world in the DC area working towards what I saw as my life purpose; being a business man that integrated the positives of technology and the positives of our government because I believe in our government and technology. I was really working myself to a fault; the passion I have can be a bad thing when it’s not utilized the correct way. I came from a time of overworking myself and striving for something because of pride issues and wanting to be seen and viewed as successful.

Over the last few years I’ve battled against it. I know God has a calling for my life, and I wrestled back and forth between being a part of a family business and being called into something that I knew God had for me outside of what I was currently in. In the struggle of trying to figure out my future, knowing that it was going to involve the integration of faith and work, but not solely focused in the professional environment is where I finally took the leap of faith to come to Delaware. I knew I had to keep my foot in to what I was doing before because there’s been a blessing and favor there, but this is where God has me knowing that both are good and there’s a unique perspective that I have because of my circumstance that is needed where I am. Wrapping all of that together into a creative outreach has been what’s led me and pushed me here. It’s been difficult, hard, and sometimes discouraging. But the only reason I’ve been able to stand strong the past 6 months is because I know what He’s called me to do and have had peace in it.

Why do you do what you do? At what point in your life did you wake up and find yourself committing to these values? Why are you so passionate about it?

Chris: I’m an individual that identifies himself as an all or nothing type of guy. I think any of the successes I’ve had in my life can be contributed to that mentality. If you look at my life up to about 6 months ago, every area of my life you can say that I was all in and doing everything I could, except for my faith and trust in the calling God had on my life.

Part of it was selfish in nature. Part of it was competitively driven. Most importantly it was a spirit-led decision. I couldn’t wake up another morning and go through another day and ignore the fact that I’m not all in when it comes to what Christ has called me to be and do. I couldn’t let another day go by where I don’t grab the bull by the horns, regardless of how comfortable and well off I am. I had to grab the bull and be all in for the one thing it matters to be all in for.

Why is creativity important?

Chris: We are born creative. From an early age we’re placed into structure and conformity and that becomes our reality. Although there’s a lot of good to that, I also believe it strips us of our innate capability and need to create. The main reason I’m drawn to creativity is because it puts us back to our initial purpose in creation. The dominion and power we’ve been given as humans to create is the very thing that makes us different from all the other animals. Humans being the climax of God’s creation, we’re free in expression and thought and in choice. When I sit on that thought it blows my mind. I can’t help but do my best to get back to that true creativity.

Creativity. It’s a word, but in my mind it’s a state of mind. It’s an ability to understand circumstantial limitation and learn to create from that. Beethoven had the same 12 notes that everyone else had, and Picasso had the same 3 primary colors. I believe this was a concept from Erwin McManus’s The Artisan Soul. It wasn’t the fact that they only had those pieces, but it was understanding them and using them to the best of their ability and working them into a beautiful state.

And more importantly, it’s what our Father is. He’s a creator and creative in essence. Part of our journey as humans is to learn and have a heart after being more like Him. If I can allow for a perspective that’s positive and embraces what others see as limitation, I think that’s a beautiful thing.

What is the dream? What do you feel is out in front of you that God’s put in your heart? What does that look like?

Chris: The dream is based around the ability to always be steam rolling the goodness, success, and beauty of each situation in my life. If you asked me where I’d be five years ago, I’d tell you something entrepreneurial. Either owner or part owner in some type of business focused endeavor. I’m almost afraid to put a limit on what my dream is, but all I know is that my dream is going to be compounded interest on the beauty that God lays in front of me. It’s going to involve things like creative expression, church and professional integration, networking and communication between people and systems, design, as well as international and cultural integration. I don’t know what that means and I’m ok with that for the first time in my life.

What advice or encouragement would you give to others like you? People that are creatively driven, extremely passionate with a professional business mindset. I think that’s very important for the NOVA area that I live in because of the fact that there are people like you that exist that intersect the areas of business, creativity, and faith seamlessly and have learned to own that as an identity. So what advice would you give to a younger person in the business or creative world that has dreams to potentially be entrepreneurial in mind as they’re learning to fully own these facets of their life?

Chris: One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve clung to is to never settle or be satisfied with a situation that’s comfortable. I’m always trying to put myself in a situation that forces me out a sense of urgency to learn and adapt. Whether that’s a new subject area, apartment, type of managment, information system, technique in design, skill, perspective, don’t get complacent and settle with the same type of thing. Be ready to understand who you are and what you represent, and find relatable intersecting points that push yourself. Always put yourself in a situation that uncomfortable and allow you to adapt. When you see situations as a failure, view those situations as an opportunity to learn and take the good out of that to lead into the next thing.

People will argue that it’s good to get deep expertise in one area and that may be correct in certain circumstances. But expand. Challenge. Don’t ever get complacent.

What advice or encouragement would you give to others like you? People that are creatively driven, extremely passionate with a professional business mindset. I think that’s very important for the NOVA area that I live in because of the fact that there are people like you that exist that intersect the areas of business, creativity, and faith seamlessly and have learned to own that as an identity. So what advice would you give to a younger person in the business or creative world that has dreams to potentially be entrepreneurial in mind as they’re learning to fully own these facets of their life?

Chris: One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve clung to is to…

“never settle or be satisfied with a situation that’s comfortable”

Chris: I’m always trying to put myself in a situation that forces me out a sense of urgency to learn and adapt. Whether that’s a new subject area, apartment, type of managment, information system, technique in design, skill, perspective, don’t get complacent and settle with the same type of thing. Be ready to understand who you are and what you represent, and find relatable intersecting points that push yourself. Always put yourself in a situation that uncomfortable and allow you to adapt. When you see situations as a failure, view those situations as an opportunity to learn and take the good out of that to lead into the next thing.

People will argue that it’s good to get deep expertise in one area and that may be correct in certain circumstances. But expand. Challenge. Don’t ever get complacent.

Where can people find you?

Chris: email: chris@coker.io

instagram: chris_coker

dribbble: chriscoker

website: chriscoker.io

Any last words? Anything you’d specifically like to say?

Chris: The most important thing I can say at the end is that your attitude determines your altitude. The way you view things is going to dictate where you go. When we have limits, embrace them and let’s work together to figure out how we can use them for the good of ourselves and others. And I love my wife, my family and in-laws are awesome, and the Dallas Cowboys are great and yea…

And get at me if you want a little freestyle game cause Egey, I, and company were throwing that hot fire.

About Egey

Egey is a forward-thinking business creative. He is a George Mason University graduate of the BS Information Technology program, and is passionate about technology and its ability to connect, support, and inspire individuals in everyday life. His deep interest and appreciation of faith, logic, and art greatly influence how he approaches his community. Egey enjoys jazz music and a quality cup of coffee alongside his work.

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