Tag Archives: obstacles

More is Expected of You

Contrary to popular belief you are no longer a grasshopper.  You have entered the land of the giants.  Through your tenacity, focus, and dedication to finish what you started, you sit before us as graduates.  Graduates you are on the first rung of the ladder of theological education and you are no longer the same. 
You have placed yourself in a position of expectation.  Expect more of yourself; the church expects more of you; and the Christ expects more of you. 

Expect more of yourself.  This vast array of knowledge to which you’ve been exposed makes you uncomfortable, restless, and yearning for more.  In some of you, that demon of pride has already tried to claim your soul and render your education worth less.  Indeed, I urge you to resist thinking that your education is complete.  Well did the Apostle Paul declare in 1 Corinthians 8:1-2….”We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.  Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.” 

Be proud of this achievement but simultaneously, expect more from your certificate than pride.  Doors have now been opened for you because of your graduation, and you should work to enter these doors expecting that you have changed and are ready for more leadership challenges.

The Church expects more of you. Howard Friend says, “Churches need leaders who can rise to a formidable challenge, laced with danger and rich with opportunity, leaders who are self-transcending and self-motivated, inspired and inspiring” (Friend, 1998, p.109). 

Rev. Clementa Pinckey was one such leader.  He was ordained at 18. He served as a pastor at Youngs Chapel AME Church in Irmo, Jericho and Porter’s Chapel AME Churches in Beaufort, Mount Horr AME Church in Yonges Island and Campbell Chapel AME Church in Bluffton.
He started working at Emanuel AME in 2010. 

Pinckney also became a politician at a young age.
He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1996 at age 23 after serving as a page in the State House. After serving two terms, he won a seat in the Senate in 2000 at age 27.
Pinckney said his youth was an advantage.  “I’m not set in my ways and not set in old ways,” he told The (Charleston) Post and Courier in 2001. “Just like slavery needed to die out, old ideas need to die out. Being young allows me to be open-minded.”

Pinckney was also one of the lead co-sponsors on a body-camera bill for police officers and was an advocate for economic development in Jasper County. Pinckney also helped lead a prayer vigil after the police-shooting death of Walter Scott.
Pinckney was a member of the Senate’s finance, education, banking, corrections and medical affairs committees. 

He told the Charleston paper that he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Columbia’s Allen University in order to be able to better run his churches. He also earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Carolina.
He leaves a wife, Jennifer, and two young daughters, Eliana and Malana.

“I always felt God had called me to serve within the church because of what the church stands for,” Pinckney told The Post and Courier in 2010. “This has always been home.”

We need educated leaders, filled with the Holy Spirit, and Committed to Jesus Christ in order to change the world for the better. 

Now that you have been educated the church expects you to be a believer not a doubter.  Doubters shut up, hold up, and lay up.  Believers speak up, move up, and get up.  Believers engage the challenges with faith that the answer lies just beyond the horizon. 

Believers are what the church needs if we are to deal with gender issues, racial quagmires, and systemic injustice.  The church expects you to roll up your sleeves, do the research, form a team, and confront these issues where you live determined to make a difference. 

The church expects that because of your education, the church can speak more relevantly to the issues of our time with more sophistication than merely quoting a scripture and saying a prayer.  The church expects you to lead your community through these various challenges as a disciple of Christ.

Your education takes you from an airline mentality to that of an airport mentality.  No longer are you merely concerned about your stuff.  An airline tries to influence as many passengers as possible to travel to the destinations they have selected.  There are only a limited number of seats and a limited number of flights.  And if you ain’t down with that…….. try another airline because we aren’t trying to accommodate your needs, we’re recruiting those willing to meet our needs. 

Your education has lifted your thinking higher than me, myself, and I; my four and no more; my church, my board, my role.  Before you were educated, you could think single mindedly about things but no more.  Your altitude has changed. 

People expect Delta to be concerned with Delta’s success.  Delta determines the way for it to get ahead of its competitors.  Delta knows Delta.  Delta is not expected to be expert in anything except Delta’s objectives.  But your education has stolen your Delta mentality.

Your education has given you the opportunity to think like you exist in an airport.  An airport serves as a conduit; it creates an atmosphere for several airlines to operate.  It works because air traffic controllers reduce the risks involved in takeoffs and landings.  Are you a pilot or an air traffic controller?  Additionally, airports organize and supply personnel, logistics, materiel, and resources to accommodate the destinations and needs of the airlines that use the airport. 

You are now expected to think of the big picture; the total church not just your church, your vision, your welfare. 
You are now challenged to ask how do my actions affect the entire community, the universal church, indeed the entire kingdom of God.  You have been taught how to grasp the big picture and make decisions based on the big picture.  In other words, you know longer make book decisions based on the chapter you’re reading now. 

Graduates, you have just begun the process of transformation; and the church expects more from you.  You have placed yourself in position for more responsibility and the church will look to you to model, to lead, and to demonstrate what you have learned.

Finally, Jesus the Christ expects more of you.  Christ Jesus needs witnesses who have committed their minds as well as their hearts to Him.  Jesus blessed you to finish this course of training because he had a purpose for your life.  Jesus said, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)

Jesus expects more of you.  Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. And you placed yourself in position of self-denial more by completing this certificate of theology program.  You have obeyed the admonition that says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) 

You did it! You are prepared to be more sensitive to the voice of Jesus because you have learned his language.  Your faithfulness to complete this study demonstrates to all present that you are now ready to engage in the work God has prepared for you and Jesus expects more of you.  Are you ready to assume your place in the airport?  Are you ready to be a servant leader in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ? 

Yes, you are prepared but are you willing?  Yes, you know the truth, but are you willing to meet these new expectations?  Yes, you are a graduate, but for what?  Jesus expects more from you than resting in this achievement.  And you and the church expect more of you as well.
Graduates more is expected of you.  You are expected to go forth and change your world!  Can you do that?  Hallelujah!

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Overcoming Challenges to Your Destiny

How to Achieve Greatness Despite Obstacles in Your Life

“Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. (2 Kings 5:1 ESV)”

The main character in this story is Naaman, Commander of the Syrian Army. His name, “Naaman,” means “Pleasantness.” Yet, his life up to this point had not been pleasant. Like many of you, he had some important and significant things going well for him, but the most important part of his life caused him great anguish and misery.

First, Naaman had accomplished something great and unique in his life. He had not allowed his handicap, his disease to keep him from becoming a mighty man of valor in his country. He had climbed the military ranks and achieved the status of Commanding General of all the Armies of the King of Syria.

Second, Naaman had gained the influence and favor of the people with whom he served. His soldiers loved him; his king loved him; his wife loved him. Naaman, though a commander in the Army had overcome many struggles to reach this point because of his unfortunate circumstances.

Naaman was a gentle soul; he was a pleasant man most of the time. However, one subject caused Naaman to transform from a pleasant man to a bitter man. Have you ever been in a situation where you could laugh, play, enjoy your friends, but when a certain subject came up, it caused you great bitterness?

Naaman would be having a pleasant day and doing well until his issue kept him from smiling. He would do well until his issue kept him from enjoying the company of friends and loved ones. Naaman, you see was a leper.

Leprosy was a skin disease that was often contagious, but always a cause for segregation and separation. A disease that kept its victims living in isolation and in places where those who were well could make fun of them and be cruel to them.

They were the victims of childhood pranks that caused utter frustration. It was akin to a child in this city with cerebral palsy, a child who is mentally retarded, or a child who has suffered a stroke that left them disfigured or paralyzed. Children and adults could be cruel to the lepers, just as children and adults can be cruel today.

Finally, Naaman decided that he would not allow his leprosy to keep him from self-accomplishment. Therefore, he learned and tested his battle skills, fine tuned his command presence, and perfected his ability to strategize and defeat the enemy. Naaman became a great soldier, despite his leprous condition. Hallelujah!

Therefore, whatever issues you are dealing with, you need to follow the example of Naaman and rise above it to achieve greatness in your lifetime. You should refuse to allow your issue to conquer you. One thing is certain, Naaman did not see himself as a leper; he saw himself as a General – Naaman knew that he was somebody. You can move forward with that same attitude if you will do what Naaman did.

A Leader’s Response to Adversity

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“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

and that has made all the difference.”

~ Robert Frost  

What is the difference between those who lead and those who don’t – the ability to make and sustain quality decisions in times of adversity.  Crossroads normally result from adversity.  And when standing at the crossroads of life, approaching a two-way intersection, choice becomes inevitable. When some people experience setbacks, depression and despondency seem to overwhelm them and in fact, presents itself as reasonable responses.  However defining circumstances also require a defining choice.  Depression and despondency causes some people to fade into obscurity.

But not leaders; leaders have a peculiar mindset!  Leaders know that the adversity contains valuable lessons, seeds of wisdom waiting to be discovered.  John Maxwell says that in life, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”   Leaders choose to take “the road less traveled by” that of becoming cognizant of lessons learned and applying such lessons to the next effort.

Thus leaders, when faced with adversity find a way to recover, regroup, and recharge.

  • Recover.   Setbacks are delays, detours, but often not denial.  Incidents may occur which delay the fulfillment of our dreams without killing the dream.  Leaders can recover from setbacks by exercising faith, patience, and tenacity which leads them through such predicaments.
  •  Regroup.   Sometimes, setbacks can so impact our spirit until we need a time to regroup and compose ourselves.  In these moments, we need to get in touch with our purpose, our vision, our dream.  We need to ask ourselves is it worth it?  One wintry night in January 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was unable to sleep.  It had been one month since the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott; threats on his life and that of his family were constant.  Dr. King relates in The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Carson 1998) that he settled in to bed late after a strenuous day.  Coretta had already fallen asleep and just at as he was about to doze off the telephone rang.  An angry voice said, “…., we’ve taken all we want from you; and before next week you’ll be sorry you ever came to Montgomery.”  Dr. King said, “I hung up, but I couldn’t sleep.  It seemed that all of my fears had come down on me at once.  I had reached the saturation point.”  Dr. King had heard these things before, but for some reason that night it got to him.  He turned over and tried to go to sleep, but he couldn’t sleep.  He was frustrated, bewildered, so he got up and began to walk the floor.  Finally, he went to the kitchen and got a pot of coffee.  He was ready to give up.  With his cup of coffee sitting untouched before him, he tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward.  He sat there and thought about his beautiful little daughter who had just been born.  He would come in night after night and see that little gentle smile. He started thinking about a dedicated and loyal wife, who was over there asleep.  Coretta could be taken from him, or he could be taken from her.  Dr. King said he had reached the point where he couldn’t take it any longer.  He was weak. It was at that moment that he heard a voice which said, “You can’t call on Daddy now;  you can’t even call mama.  You’ve got to call on that something in that person that your daddy used to tell you about, that power that can make a way out of know way.”  With his head in his hands, he bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud:   “Lord, I’m down here trying to do what is right.  I think I’m right.  I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right.  But Lord, I must confess that I am weak now, I’m faltering.  I’m losing my courage.  Now, I am afraid.  And I can’t let the people see me like this because if they see me weak and losing my courage, they will begin to get weak.  The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand up for them without strength and courage, they too will falter.  I am at the end of my powers.  I have nothing left.  I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.  Once the prayer was done,  Dr. King said he could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness.  Stand up for justice.  Stand up for truth.  And lo, I will be with you even until the end of the world.” Dr. King said, “At that moment I experienced the presence of the divine as I had never experienced him before.  Almost at once my fears began to go.  My uncertainty disappeared.  I was ready to face anything. This was Dr. King’s defining moment.  This moment solidified Dr. King as the leader of the civil rights movement.   When you experience setbacks, take some time to meditate and critically revisit your dream.  The strength of knowing your dream is valid and based on truth is powerful enough for you to regroup and move forward.
  • Recharge. Think it through then push the body through.  Once you have accepted the outcome of the setback, you can confidently strategize to regain the advantage.  Leaders look realistically at where they are now and then visualize what actions they must take to regain their peak performance.  The distance between adversity and success can be forged as you maintain a healthy perspective of discontent.  Recover, regroup, and then recharge.  When you recharge you visualize yourself working through the necessary steps to regain your position and then to initiate those actions that will take you further along your envisioned goals.  Announce your plans to others in your field and on your team and ensure to set new deadlines for achieving these goals.  Motivate yourself and others using genuine optimism and faith that you will overcome this adversity.  Surround yourself with others who have either made this stride or are undergoing the same process and collaborate with them.  In other words, develop a winning team and reestablish yourself as a winner in your field.