by Seth Williams
November 16, 2014
"As His son, I want to be about my Father's business, do the things He does, work the way He works, love the way He loves, and care about the things He cares about."
I met Matt about five years ago in a "Love & Respect" class at our church, Crossroads. One night after class, my wife, Kelly, and I were walking up to our house and heard someone call out to us. It was Matt and his wife, Lanna. Turned out they lived on our street. Ever since that night we've built a solid friendship with them that we highly value. They have become some of our closest friends. Matt is an extremely gifted designer, storyteller, and musician. We often meet for coffee early in the morning to chat about God, family, and life. He inspires me with his great love and vision for his family. I'm thankful God crossed our paths in life. Matt lives with his wife, Lanna, and their beautiful little daughter, Tessa, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
What's your favorite album of all time?
"Love & War & The Sea Between" by Josh Garrels. This album has so much wisdom and hope wrapped up into eighteen songs and it's also a go-to for me.
What's your favorite film of all time?
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty". It's a newer movie, but the story it tells, the way it's shot, the overall tone of the movie is brilliant. Either that, or "Legally Blonde".
What's your favorite place to grab a coffee in Cincinnati?
Hardest question in the whole list! This really depends on what I'm going for. If it's workspace and environment (and still great coffee), it's Redtree Art Gallery & Coffee Shop. If it's purely for an incredible cup of coffee, I've got a list : Rohs St. Cafe, Collective Espresso, Cheapside Cafe, and the Deeper Roots pop-up in Madeira. Coffee's important.
What's the most important part of your life?
It would be really easy for me to say my family, but it has to be grace. Because of grace, my identity is formed. I'm a son, a husband, a father. I honestly wouldn't have my family or the life that I do without it. The way I work, the vision we're pursuing, everything. It would all be different if I hadn't been rescued.
How does your faith in Jesus define who you are?
Because of Jesus, I've been adopted into THE family, by THE father. As His son, I want to be about my Father's business, do the things He does, work the way He works, love the way He loves, and care about the things He cares about. Most of the time I come up short, but I'm still like a teanager in that regard. I've been entrusted with more as I get older. I have more freedom and responsibility. It's like, I've been given the keys to the family station wagon, and I'm still a little reckless. I act a fool with friends, and I'll probably come home a little too late. But He knows I'm figuring things out. I'm just learning as much about His character and trying to be like Him. I think it's really easy for someone new to the faith to feel this pressure to be perfect and mature right off the bat. That's not how God works. He cares more about your growth than He does about your perfection. It's taken me a long time to realize that, but once I did, I found freedom in that.
How has having a little girl helped you grow in your relationship with God?
Oh, man. It's surreal watching Tessa learn new things. She's recently discovered her hands. Then she discovered that they belong in her mouth, that she can reach for things, and grab my beard (with bear-like strength). It's an awesome gift to be trusted with her life and her development. The one thing that's been really eye-opening for me is the idea of gaining her trust. She doesn't KNOW that I'm her daddy, but she's learning. The more time I spend with her, the more she trusts me and finds peace with me. Its Christianity 101 - pray and read your Bible and you'll learn about God. Easy to say, easy to forget. But as a father, now, I want to learn about the Father's character more and more.
Tell me a bit about Fieldhouse Collective. What is it and how did it come about?
Fieldhouse is how we're connecting our family vision with our work. Our family vision is to have land to be able to pass down through our family line. That land will be used for food, shelter, growth, discipleship, hospitality, and work. Our family is really passionate about handmade, quality-made things, telling and living good stories, and helping other people experience those same things and stories. What Fieldhouse is meant for, really, is helping other people discover a vision for whatever they're doing, and communicate it...live it out...experience it in a way that will last for generations. My wife, Lanna, creates home remedies, salves, and things like that. Things that help people live better, healthier lives. I'm really passionate about small business, specifically family businesses. There's a built-in story that's unique when a family has their own business. It's like golden soil, prepped to produce an incredible legacy that continues to reproduce. I love figuring out why things matter, where they came from, and why they even exist. Even if graphic design, explainer videos, anything digital, really, ceases to exist for some crazy reason, the ability to tease out a good story and communicate it in compelling ways will always be here. That's what I want Fieldhouse Collective, and the Hoffman family, to always be about. As we have more kids, and start to learn their strengths and passions, they'll have ownership in the work our family does. The vision is that it will always be a collection of our family's work.
You've experienced some ups and downs with jobs. How has that journey challenged and strengthened you and your faith?
As men, we're built to work and I think we're most deeply connected to our creator when there is good fruit from our labor. So when we get stuck working jobs that only produce fruit that ISN'T connecting us, its really hard to have peace. Most of my jobs were just jobs. I was working for someone else, with a different vision than my own. I was committed to their vision and, in all honesty, I was a slave to their "field" because I wasn't ready for my own. When I started to get serious about our family vision, job stuff started to fall apart. When I lost my job at Epipheo last year (which I've been blessed by, and I'm super grateful for the experience I had there), it scared the hell out of me. Epipheo was my "made-it" job. I was surrounded by awesome people, at a company who communicated truth in an amazing way, doing creative work. So when that got taken, I felt really inadequate and ashamed. I held onto a lot of those feelings for the past year, but they were covered up by the urgency I felt to provide for my family. I can say now that it was the best thing that could have happened. We found out exactly one week later that we were pregnant (after trying for three years). God's timing was not at all the timing I would've chosen but I think it's just a testament to His faithfulness. He knew exactly what He had in store for us and His timing was perfect. The years leading up to this one have not been wasted. I was being tested. He's blessing my work so much now that it makes all the crappy jobs, and losing the one good one, fade into the background, for me. I've really started to discover the joy that can come from doing good work.
You're a very talented drummer. You used to play in a band and at church. Do you miss playing music?
Thanks, dude! I think about playing a lot. The truth is, though, it was a bit of an idol for me. I always wanted to play music professionally, so much so that it was priority over everything. I'd still love to play more, but with the season of life that I'm in, I can't really afford to spend as much time on it as I did before. Even playing at church was getting more time than my family was. Too much of a good thing can sometimes start to poison the water a little bit. I do miss playing, though, and I think there's still a place for it in my life. Just sort of waiting to see how that plays out.
If you could go back in time and have a chat with your teenage self, what would you say?
Take it easy. Don't try and be perfect and don't expect other people to be perfect. Just do well by your parents, love the people around you, and seek truth, always.
How do you see your faith play out in the the work you do?
I really want everything I create to be of the highest quality I'm capable of at that point in time. God doesn't just ask for everything. He asks for the best that we have. I believe that when I produce good work, it pleases Him.
What's your greatest fear as a father?
We make it a point in our family to fight off fear because as believers, we have power and authority over any weapons the enemy uses. With that being said, I hope that my sin isn't passed down through my line because of the passivity that I've inherited from the fall.
What's your greatest dream as a father?
That I'll be able to experience life with my children and grandchildren and see the vision God's given us played out.
What in your life challenges and grows your faith the most?
My wife, our community, the group of fathers that I meet with...and our dogs test my patience more than anything.
How do you find time to spend with God? What does that look like for you?
Again, meeting with that group of fathers and midrashing scripture has been incredible for my relationship with God. I go to be corrected, to be encouraged, and to learn more about His character from men who have far more wisdom than I do. It really challenges me to pursue growth in my personal relationship so that, eventually, I can be a man who others seek out for wisdom. My family is also really intentional about observing Sabbath each week. To take that one day, stay in our pajamas, and just rest from our work has been incredible for us.
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