What I learned from Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, and Jesus–Shaking Off the Dust

I’m a firm believer that wisdom is everywhere, waiting for us to find it–even among pop culture. It just takes perspective.

For example, Jay-Z has taught me that I should get that dirt off my shoulder. Similarly, Taylor Swift encourages me to shake it off.

Life has and will hand us countless situations that throw proverbial dirt all over us. Every single day there are situations and circumstances that threaten to dirty up any attempt at cleanliness. Too often we become shackled by these opinions and expectations, leaving us stagnant. The dirt keeps piling up.

This morning, as I was reading in one of the Gospel accounts, I saw similar language from Jesus as he was teaching his disciples:

“…shake the dust off your feet.” Matthew 10:14

Who knew Jesus was a rapper and pop culture inspiration? I hear Jehovah Jireh, Himself, spitting first century lyrics that remind us of a truth:

Dust doesn’t collect on complacent feet, it doesn’t settle on stationary sandals. It’s time to shake it off.

Is there a way we can live–habits that we can create–that will allow us to better manage the dirt of life?

Anything But Routine

A few years ago, we were given the gift of three kids within fifteen months of one another. Up to that point, I knew the luxury of free time. My morning routine wasn’t very routine at all. I woke up when I wanted to, took my time getting ready, and managed to find time for the whatever I wanted to do.

Kids change things.

I found myself throwing waffles like frisbees and pouring juice cups, all while finding Disney Junior on the television, just so I could have a free minute to put my pants on. After that, my wife and would compete in the Olympic event I affectionately refer to as wrestle dressing. This is when you try to put clothes on a child that would clearly prefer nudity. You mismatch shoes, change diapers, and drink cold coffee because…caffeine.

Sound familiar?

In both cases, it felt like I was simply reacting to life’s circumstances.

Somewhere around the twins’ eighteen month mark, I found myself strung out, ungrateful, and quite frankly, frustrated. Longing to avoid the dust of life, I started embracing a few practices that helped me prepare to shake it all off.

I don’t consider these the end-all-be-all tips, but they are the factors that have allowed me to enrich my daily life. They are also the foundation of the life change that led to my first book, Redefine Rich.


5 Keys to Rich Living

1. Rise early – I have learned that if you want to be intentional about your life, you must not constantly react to it. There are countless books, opinions, and series on this topic so I don’t want to belabor the issue. In short, it is a common theme among almost anyone we would collectively consider successful. God intended us to sleep, but that’s not where we do His work.

2. Journal – This was the catalyst to the life change I experienced. When I began writing down my thoughts, questions, prayers, and ideas it began changing how I thought about the things that were happening in my life. It gave me the gift of clarity. Where have I been, where am I, where am I going? More importantly, what is God doing in me?

3. Read – For starters, I read the Bible. Why? Because it is the roadmap for who I want to become and it gives me wisdom from the source of all wisdom. Secondly, I read books and blogs from people that are much smarter than I am. Wisdom must be sought after and this is how I seek. I also consider great podcasts or digital books a part of this process. Remember, garbage in, garbage out.

4. Heart Check – Is it beating? Is it grateful? Is it engaged? Those are three questions we can ask ourselves every day. If you fail to live with gratitude and engage your heart passionately, you’ll likely end up waiting for another year so you can start over. You have the decision now, right this minute, to engage your heart in your life. Passion and gratitude are two of the most powerful tools you can learn to harness.

5. Pick a Word – You can read in detail about the concept of “My One Word” here. My testimony for 2013 will guide me for life at the power of this practice. In short, pick one word as a lens through which you will live this year. What word best describe who you would hope to become?


These five practices have helped me prepare for the dirt of life and have given me a better perspective on how to manage its challenges. I hope they provide you with a foundation to create an exceptional year.

Find out more about my book and my journey.


What is it that you hope to accomplish next year? How will you be intentional about making those goals a reality?


Matt Ham is a best-selling author, inspirational speaker, and small-business owner helping others gain perspective for an enriched life. He writes weekly at mattham.com and hosts a bi-weekly podcast titled, Redefine Rich.

For weekly perspective, subscribe to the Live Richly Newsletter.

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12 Responses to What I learned from Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, and Jesus–Shaking Off the Dust

  1. beccaludlum December 31, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Such an inspiring post! My word for 2014 is Bright. 2013 was Boom – I rebranded my blog, had several viral posts, and wrote a book. This year, it’s my time to push aside my confidence issues and shine bright, helping others, so I can promote my book after it’s released next month!

    • Matt Ham December 31, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      Becca that’s awesome! Tell me about your book! BOOM!

  2. Joe Lalonde December 31, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    Glad you discovered the Andy Andrews podcast. He’s an amazing man with a wealth of knowledge.

    • Matt Ham December 31, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      Besides picking and sticking to my word, his podcast was the best thing I did in 2013 Joe! Do you have any other top podcast recommendations?

      • Joe Lalonde December 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

        I’ve got a slew podcasts that I love. My top three would be

        48 Days To The Work You Love with Dan Miller
        Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn
        Internet Business Mastery

        • Matt Ham December 31, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

          Wasn’t aware of the last 2 – I’m on it! Thanks brother!

      • Joe Lalonde December 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

        If you’re interested in making money online, you’re missing out without those two. IBM also has an online course that’s pretty amazing. You can check it out at http://www.jmlalonde.com/ibm

        These two podcasts are semi-connected. Pat Flynn began his journey as a member of their academy. He’s also been featured on Michael Hatt’s podcast and Platform University.

        • Matt Ham December 31, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

          I caught the tail end of Pat with Jeff Goins about a month ago. I’ve got about 3,000 hits a month and have been wondering when it was time – I still feel like I am establishing my presence, but will DEF check these resources out!

  3. Missy Gregg-Bailey December 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    Good stuff…i needed this! Thanks for sharing
    Merry Christmas!

    • Matt Ham December 15, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

      Thank you, Missy. I did as well 🙂

  4. Stan Stinson December 16, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    As always good reminders for us all Matt. Thanks for sharing them. I know I need to put them into practice myself but am at most times very stubborn. Maybe 2015 will be the year for me.

    • Matt Ham December 17, 2014 at 6:10 am #

      It is, Stan. We’re toying with the theme “Your Rich Year” around here. I’ll keep you posted!