Although his comments were primarily aimed at youth, gospel music artist and motivational speaker Kirk Franklin encouraged several hundred people of all ages in a Youth Motivation Task Force assembly Tuesday at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Although his comments were primarily aimed at youth, gospel music artist and motivational speaker Kirk Franklin encouraged several hundred people of all ages in a Youth Motivation Task Force assembly Tuesday at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.


A Texas native who has won more than 50 professional music awards, the 44-year-old Franklin spoke on the importance of strength of character and faith in the course of day-to-day life as one builds toward personal and professional contentment. Franklin is a devout Christian who has successfully rebounded from several missteps, including initially failing to graduate from high school after fathering a child with a girlfriend at the time.


After encouraging his listeners to utilize their God-given talents to the best of their abilities, Franklin cautioned that aptitude alone usually doesn’t provide enough fuel to reach an enduring plateau of achievement.


"There is a process of character development because there are places character can take you that your gift can’t," Franklin said, advising his audience to avoid losing faith when "detours and delays to your dreams" interfere with or threaten to derail one’s plans.


Delays, Franklin said, can actually become a protective tool that deepens understanding and increases patience. He said people sometimes trip themselves by questioning obstacles instead of devoting themselves to overcoming them. Noting that pride can knock someone off course when they begin to compare themselves to others, Franklin said such practice "makes you miss opportunities in character development."


"A lot of people don’t want to pay the price for inner development," he said, "but you have to prepare for life. You must be willing to do the inner works for your life."


Franklin said a good measure of one’s life can be obtained by simply taking stock with asking oneself if others benefit from their life. If not, it’s time to re-evaluate and re-energize.


Expressing a belief that God gives people a level of vision they normally don’t possess, he said, "God created life in a way that you can enjoy it only when you see it through His lens."


He urged his listeners to make a contract with life that binds them to whatever pathway they might dedicate themselves.


"You can’t walk out before you get to the good part, and there is a good part," Franklin said.


Several students departing after his presentation gave Franklin their approval.


"He said what we needed to hear," said one.


"I’ll listen to what he said because he’s overcome a lot in his life to be successful," said another.


"I think it’s great that he would come to UAPB to do what he can to help make life better for us," offered a third. "To me, that says he truly cares about others."