Michael Jr. got his start when George Wallace took him to the legendary Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach. Even though the club is the home of Jay Leno and “The Tonight Show” staff, the club’s owner slipped the unknown comic onstage to perform. A week later, Michael Jr. was performing at the “Just for Laughs” comedy festival in Montreal where he became the first comedian to ever appear live via satellite on “The Tonight Show.”
That performance catapulted Michael’s career.
Now, Michael tours the country performing and can also be seen on TV regularly. Michael recently appeared in Sony Pictures' feature film War Room.
On the home front, Michael is happily married. He and his wife are the proud parents of five beautiful children.
Share a story with the group about someone in your life who created an opportunity for you to succeed.
Have a volunteer read Romans 8:28-29.
Michael told us about his childhood, how as a kid he had trouble reading. That difficulty reading words forced him to figure out how to read people and situations. God turned a negative into a positive, as Michael now uses those same powers of observation to find the funny in everyday life.
What is a difficulty you’ve had in your life that God has turned into something positive?
Earlier in his career, Michael Jr. would perform on stage and try to “get laughs.” He wanted the audience to give him their laughter in response to his jokes, but God changed Michael Jr.’s perspective. He no longer tries to “get laughs” but rather to “give people an opportunity to laugh.” It was a radical perspective shift. Instead of trying to get something for himself, his comedy became about trying to give something to the people there.
How do you view what you do? As a way to get something for yourself (fulfillment, purpose, a paycheck, etc.) or as a way to serve others? What would it take for you to shift your perspective from receiving to giving, and what impact would that have on you and the people around you?
Michael Jr. talked about your why versus your what. Your what is what you do, but your why is your reason for doing it. His why is to inspire people to walk in purpose. His what is stand up comedy, television, books, etc. Your why is the purpose God has given you in life, the thing He has called you and wired you to do.
You might not have ever thought intentionally about your why or your what, but we all have them. We often think about our what in terms of our jobs. And for some people, their why and their job are obviously connected. If your why is to help people learn how to love one another better and you’re a marriage and family therapist, then it’s pretty obvious how your why and your job are connected.
But if your why is to help people learn how to love one another better and you’re a dishwasher in a restaurant, it might be a little less obvious. But without you, that frazzled couple with five young kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to have an opportunity to re-connect with each other over a quiet dinner.
And sometimes we live out our why in ways other than through our jobs. You might help people learn to love by showing them in practical ways, by having meaningful conversations with friends, or by volunteering at Fristers to help young moms learn how to parent their kids well.
What is your why? What purpose has God given you in life? What is your what? How are you living that purpose out?
How can your why and your what be used to honor God and serve others?
If you’re not sure what your why and your what are, consider attending Next Steps, where you’ll have the opportunity to begin exploring your why and your what.
Michael Jr. talked about how some people have a hard time giving, and others have a hard time receiving. Some of us are owned by our money and possessions. Greed rules our lives. Others of us are owned by our pride. We may be generous with others, but we can’t admit that we need people to help us out as well.
Which is more challenging for you: giving or receiving? Why?
If you struggle with giving, what can you give away to help become a more generous giver? If you struggle with receiving, what is one area of your life where you could use the help of others?
Have a volunteer read Proverbs 17:22.
Michael Jr. goes into prisons and hospitals to bring comedy and laughter to the people who are there. He leverages his gifts, talents, and skills to serve others.
What gifts, talents, and skills do you have that you could use to serve others?