Monthly Archives: April 2014

Precious People Along the Way

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” 
― Donald Miller

One of Imagethe best things I have discovered as a pastor is that relationships are more important than missions, money, movements or any of that other good stuff.  As a church family, we are multi-faceted not monolithic and it is our charge to “love one another.”  Through constant worship and praise, fellowship, and changing dynamics we discover who each of us really are.  I’ve pastored several churches and the most memorable things are the people I’ve associated with.  I remember Mother Stokes at Rock of Ages; I cherish her because she adopted me when my mother died in 1994.  I remember Annie Ruth Jones, Woodlawn CME Church, she was loyal to me even when she knew I was wrong; she ensured I had space to grow and develop.  I remember Barbara Harris, Jones Chapel CME Church who was diagnosed with stomach cancer, but God healed her to the astonishment of her doctors.  I remember Paige Perry, Trinity CME, as she weeped and worried that her mother would die; but God lifted her mother up off that hospital bed and she still lives today.  I remember Mother Cornelia Ingram, St. Paul CME,  and Betty Henderson, Trinity CME, who held my foot to the fire and made me accountable.  And my Assistant Pastor (:-) Sister Marianne Acee, St. Paul CME who could get a plan activated much quicker than I could.  Sister Patricia Brassel, Lane Chapel CME, continues to teach me many valuable lessons about relationships and I am so glad to have a big sister like her.

Men were also formative in my journey as pastor.  Gene R. Dean, Larry Anders, Earnest Jarrett, Kenneth Wells, Alvin Jackson, Ronald Turk, Joe Cornelius, Theron Winzer, Willie Bradford, Jr., Green P. Lewis, Dr. Joseph Carter, Nathan Jones, Herman Lewis, Larry Anderson, Willie Prather, Travis Griffin, Malachi Cook, and the many other strong men of our church.  Al Devin Jackson, a young boy whom God gifted to play the piano who had never touched a keyboard, but who prayed and God answered the need of the church for a musician.  Now he’s young man leading music ministry at several churches.  Bishop Joseph C. Coles, my 1st bishop who ordained me deacon and prophesized over my life and ministry.  Bishop Otha H. Lakey, who sheltered me in the time of a storm and who became my father after my biological father passed in 1991.  Bishop Thomas L. Brown, Sr., my present bishop who showed the confidence of the church in my integrity by recommending me as Conference Treasurer.  These men taught me to be strong, courageous, and fair; they leaned in the trenches with me and helped me navigate through dark and deep waters. The list goes on and on.  My point is the people of each church where I have served helped in my personal development in so many ways.

In reflection, I cherish the relationships I’ve had over the years.  They have been more meaningful than any success in missions, money, or movements.  These people and others have been instrumental in teaching me how to love myself and God’s people.  Relationships matter; and when you view people as you should, each person you come in contact with has something to learn from you and something to teach you.  Never discount the value of any relationship you experience; they all matter!  What a blessed life I’ve been priviliged to experience thus far; and the best is yet to come!

Preparing to Preach: Prayer

Have you prayed today?

Engage the Pews

Prayer is one of the most important and most neglected steps in preparing to preach.  These days, the church is all about the latest method, statistics and even gimmicks.  Prayer however is not any of these.  Instead, prayer, simply put, is just communication with God.  Somehow it can get lost in the pastoral habit due to the demand put on the preacher.  Nevertheless, prayer needs to take some priority on top of sound preparation.  If you don’t even talk to the God whom you worship, how can you talk about God?

Prayer can be divided into two general categories: person and pastoral.

Personal prayer comes from our daily living. It’s no different than us talking to our spouses, children or friends, except in this case, we’re talking to God.  This can happen as a disciplined form of daily worship or can happen as part of what we do going about…

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“He Still Has Some Issues To Work Out”

Oh, that all of us would see the best of us in each of us. Then “bear one another’s burdens in love” would be doable.

J.S. Park: Hospital Chaplain, Skeptical Christian

He leans over to me all quiet-like in church and says, “He still has some issues to work out.”

I want to tell this guy, “So do you.  So do I.  We all do, bro.”

He says in a sly whisper, “He really just needs Jesus.”

So do you.  So do I.  We all do.

So finally I just say it.

“You know, everyone has some kind of deal.  You think it’s hard to put up with this guy because he does whatever annoys you.  But someone else thinks you’re hard to put up with because you do a bunch of annoying things that you don’t think are annoying, and if you don’t think so, then you must be God.  And everyone is just secretly keeping secrets about each other and telling everyone else like it’s cool to know all these secrets, but really they’re just preferences.  They’re your problems…

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Confidence: The Key to Moving from Mediocre Leadership to Leadership Excellence!

“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.” 
― Adlai E. Stevenson II

ImageGoing somewhere that others fear going requires courage, confidence, commitment, and candor.  Leaders that do not have these four virtues find it difficult to lead people in unchartered waters.  Exceptional leaders who exhibit these four virtues have the ‘stuff’ that makes others trust them in unknown territories.

But of all of these confidence is the most necessary when you expect others to ‘go boldly where no man has gone before.’ Confidence in one’s abilities to achieve is a must.  When a leader has low self-esteem, followers can sense it and will not follow.  Thus, a leader must develop confidence by engaging in a personal growth strategy that ensures confidence is built.  Without confidence, a leader will falter in the face of challenge.

How you perceive yourself as a person, a leader is vital to your success.  The only way to enhance your self-confidence is to challenge yourself to be, do, and act in ways unfamiliar to your nature.  With every success, your confidence grows; with every failure, your experience grows.  You learn the many talents and gifts that lie hidden in your being through experience and training.  So as a leader, build your self-confidence so that others will sense it and follow you into unchartered waters.  The best way to do this is to have a coach who will challenge you and hold you accountable.  That’s what I do and I believe that I have what it takes to help you build your self-confidence as a leader.  Contact me when you’re ready to take the plunge and let my program help you improve your leadership skills.

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” ~ John Maxwell

 

 

What the Resurrection Means to Me

Image“I wish I could do it all over again;” “I wish I could take it back.”  These phrases depict some of the times in my life when I have hurt, insulted, or denigrated someone.   When I have said or did someone wrong, my heart’s cry is to turn the tables around, push the rewind button, start over.  Often, I can’t. Redemption escapes me. There is no way to make what I did wrong, right. “I’m sorry” does not clear my conscience and alleviate the remorse I feel.

Yet, I have found hope in the resurrection.  The resurrection provides forgiveness, reassurance, and transformation.  The story of the Passion of Christ offers all who have found themselves in situations which are unredeemable, hope and healing.  Through the resurrection story, I realize the great lengths God went through to provide forgiveness in places where forgiveness by people could not penetrate.  In the depth of my soul, the forgiveness found in Jesus travels so that I can once again operate in peace and soundness of mind and spirit.  

This gives me reassurance that all hope is not lost when sins against humanity cannot be repaired.  God reassures me through forgiveness that God is with me and that God still loves me.  I can begin again; even when I deny Christ, desert Christ’s teachings, or distance myself from the Christian faith, I can return to the cross and find forgiveness and reassurance.

Finally, the resurrection provides transformation; I am changed from the inside out.  As John Wesley aptly spoke, “My heart is strangely warmed.”  An encounter with Jesus and his Passion Story opens my heart to God and provides insight I could not have attained otherwise.  I can be changed; I do not have to remain the same.  God is a God of another chance; God’s mercy is limitless and his grace is aboundingly efficacious.

Doors to a new life are opened for me through the resurrection; the resurrection means forgiveness, assurance, and transformation to me.

 

Women’s Equal Pay Legislation

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From where I sit this is much ado about nothing. Capitalism is based on market forces of which salary negotiations are a part. Negotiation of salaries stems from the company’s obligation to its shareholders to make as much profit as possible. So, although a budget has been set which outline salary caps, what shrewd CEO is going to pay more than he/she has to whether its a man or a woman. The laws of capitalism demand certain principles to remain in effect of which negotiation for best price is key. I would think women would just need to learn about salary negotiations during the recruiting process and then demand more in wages and benefits rather than waiting on a law that cannot be enforced based on our government system.

Recently, an employee of the Sears Corporation was offered a job at $10 per hour.  She refused and counteroffered with $16; after much wrangling between her and HR, they settled on $15.  This woman knew her worth and set a fair market price on her services. She stood her ground and because the company valued her experience and expertise, they negotiated with her and together created a win-win situation.  

That is the way capitalism works and should be the way women help to close the wage gap.  Governmental regulations which mandate certain pay for certain jobs should not be included in the process when hiring salaried vs. hourly employees.

Growth: The Fourth Responsibility of a Leader

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”~John F. Kennedy

Followers expect leaders to model the values they promote.  If you value learning, then as a leader you should be continuously learning.  Why?  Having current knowledge affects your leadership effectiveness.  Leaders have to stay current in their field; without a continuing education program, leaders lose their edge.  

One of the things that give companies the competitive edge is their leader’s ability to stay current with the latest information, technology, industry thought, etc.  Leaders who isolate themselves from other leaders  in their field, lag behind in productivity which erodes the ability of the company to sustain its growth.  Leaders may not implement current trends but they should not be ignorant of current trends.

My children laugh at me when I tell them I’m going to get another degree; they know that at any given moment I can be reinolved in the learning process.  I have an associates degree, bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and a doctoral degree.  Why? because I value education.  I believe that learning and leadership are intertwined; you can’t have one without the other.  Although I may not be involved in a degree program,  I seek other learning opportunities that help develop my personal growth as a leader.

That is one reason that a few months after I completed my second masters degree, I invested in a leadership coaching program.  True to form, my children said, “We knew it daddy!”  “You just an’t stop learning.”  As of August 2013, I am a Certified Coach, Speaker, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Group.  Not all learning occurs in a formal program of learning, I get that.  Yet, formal coursework challenges a leader to attain new perspectives based on the latest research and newest technologies.

Coaching is a great way for leaders to improve their effectiveness, but a good coach will help leaders see that education is vital to their success.  There are no shortcuts to education; mentoring, coaching, and counseling serve supportive roles.  Education is foundational to the effectiveness of a leader.  I wholeheartedly support and value education; I believe all leaders should.