Over the past month I’ve watched the Disney movie Moana at least 5 times. If you have younger children like we do, you most likely have seen it and can probably recite the songs in the film like a JT record.

All Baylor and Bella want to do is watch the “Big Guy”…Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s character, Maui…which he crushes btw…and the brave heroine, Moana.

She’s next level.

She’s next level.

Even our one year old Winnie is getting into the action. I got home the other day from a work trip, and all she could say to me was, “Muah, Muah.” I was like, “Kendra, what is she saying?” She replied, “Moana!”

Huh, should have known. Gotta love baby gibberish.

There’s a reason Disney owns everything from the Marvel Universe to ESPN. They are frickin’ smart and have mastered the art of storytelling. They have gotten so good over the years, and the plots have even struck cords with adults as much as kids.

Disney has a proven plot system. Here’s my breakdown:

1. Scene and characters are established (old normal)

2. A challenge arises

3. A nurturing character close to the protagonist dies or is faced with a dangerous threat

4. The naive hero (protagonist) goes on a journey

5. The protagonist is mentored

6. The protagonist fails and contemplates quitting

7. The protagonist faces his/her fear and transforms into a real hero

8. With a new found courage and skill, the protagonist saves the day.

9. A new normal and happy world is created

Disney’s Empire is endless.

Disney’s Empire is endless.

I’ve loved many Disney films, but this Moana story stirred my spirit and emotions more than any drama or action film of recent memory (nothing creates water works like Cuba Gooding, Jr’s movie Radio though). The symbolisms in Moana, her journey, failure, triumph, and message of redemption are timeless. There’s a plot twist in the end and a climactic scene that had me balling my eyes out…I mean grown man ugly cry. I had to hide my face so my kids didn’t think something was wrong with me.

There were many takeaways from this gem that made me laugh, think, and cry. Below are elements of the movie that paralleled with real life – and even had a biblical influence. Take a look at this list and reflect how it relates to your life.

Under qualified

The chosen one, Moana, lacked experience, was under qualified, was too young, and an unlikely choice to save her people.

How many characters in the Bible were an unlikely choice from God? Moses stuttered. David was an adulterer. Paul killed Christians.

You might think you are under qualified, but trust that no one is ever 100% ready and are completely qualified. Know that you are chosen. You are worthy. There is no such thing as perfect. It’s about the journey and growth along the way. Stop thinking that you don’t have what it takes. The people who shaped the world where flawed just like you and me. The only difference is they took action! It’s time for you to stop thinking you don’t have what it takes, because you do!  Take ACTION!


Despite going against her father’s will, Moana left her island and faced many dangerous situations to save her people.

David faced Goliath. Noah survived the storm. Daniel was saved from the lion’s den.

You will never reach your potential or achieve anything of significance unless you face your fear. Warriors feel the fear, but go to battle anyway. This is where growth happens. What fear have you been avoiding that you need to attack?


Moana knew very little about sailing or the world beyond her island. However, she had a connection with the ocean and the dream of exploring. This dream was encouraged and nurtured by her grandmother. While on her journey, Moana, who was a novice sailor, learned to be a master of the seas. She learned this skill from the other main character in the film, Maui. Because of Moana and Maui’s teamwork, they saved the day. This feet would not have been possible without each other. Maui learned a great deal from his mentee, Moana, as well (humility, courage, resourcefulness).

Mentorship has been a critical part of achieving greatest throughout history. Moses mentored Aaron. Eli mentored Samuel. Jesus mentored his disciples.

What is your dream? Who can you seek out to help you achieve it? You are not alone. We all can benefit from having at least one source that is full of encouragement and knowledge. Focus on learning from those people instead of the naysayers, critics, and doubters – which, if you are seeking to do something great – you will have plenty of those types of people.

Think of one person who believes in you. Channel their energy and encouragement. Also, who has what you want? Ask them to be your mentor. This relationship will be life changing.

You should always have a mentor and a mentee.

You should always have a mentor and a mentee.

“This does not define you” 

Moana and Maui had several major setbacks and failures throughout the process. Both even felt so defeated that they lost hope and even quit. Yet, something inside of their spirit lifted them out of a state of despair to keep fighting and fulfill their destiny.

God never makes it easy. Whether the Jews exodus from Egypt, to Abraham and Sarah waiting until late in life to have children, and even Jesus’s death and resurrection (there are many more examples)…the people who fall and get back up and face the fire are rewarded.

The most powerful scene in the film felt like a scene straight from the Bible. There is a clever twist at the end when Moana reaches the end of her journey to restore the heart of Te Fiti. While facing the lava monster (that’s what my kids call it), Moana realizes that the monster is not really evil.

The ocean parts, she calls to her, and sings a message that has so much biblical relevance that it had me balling. I saw God in the form of a 16 year old girl speaking to me, people who are lost, hurt, afraid, living in guilt and shame, and who have lost sight of their true self. This is what she sang:

I have crossed the horizon to find you

I know your name

They have stolen the heart from inside you

But this does not define you

This is not who you are

You know who you are
…who you truly are.


God has been on an endless search to reach you.

He loves you, and knows you by name.

He may have challenged you with hardships that have broken you.

You may have lost your way and have been on a path of self destruction.


God adores you and sees the hero inside of you.

He knows who you are. You know who you are. Let that person come back to life and grow to something even greater.

This song could also be sung from a parent to a child; a child to a parent; a friend to a friend; or you to yourself.

Sheesh, I’m tearing up right now just as I write this. Please watch the scene below and reflect on your life. Forgive yourself and start living in color, not darkness. If you are in a healthy place, how can you be a light for others?

In summary:

• Even though you are under qualified, you are ready.

• Nothing of significance happens without courage.

• You are not alone. Seek out mentors, while you mentor others.

• Your failure does not define you. How you respond does.

• In order to be great, you must love yourself first.

Forgive yourself.  Mend a relationship.  Forgive someone else.

Begin a new adventure.

Start an adventurous journey today and become your best self…just like Moana.