21st Century Leadership


Still wrestling with a lot of emotions but today I am clear about my role in this discussion.  I am first a faith leader who is a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ.  As a public theologian I have the responsibility to interpret the present news through the lens of the Scriptures. I am an African American male who lives with the oppression and disorientation of subtle racism daily.  I have developed coping skills so this does not control me but it does affect me almost daily.  I am a leader in the African American community with a responsibility to address the presenting symptoms and the underlying causes of the current situation in Ferguson.

My current observations have been informed by countless new sources, countless conversations with colleagues and listening to various observations from random people at Starbucks.  Yes I bought them coffee but they were no shy to share their opinions with or without coffee.

Dr. Robert Franklin wrote an short insightful article that began with his reading of the book of Lamentations.  https://www.facebook.com/robert.franklin.50/posts/10152518452870949?pnref=story

“Yes… America, the crown has fallen”  says Dr. Robert Franklin. This the line that summarizes the exasperation of a country built on ideals of equality, liberty and freedom.

This is juxtaposed against this line-
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass

WEB DuBois then continues this though by stating that “Most men today cannot conceive freedom that does not involve somebody’s slavery”

America’s ideal of freedom and justice comes directly from the preamble of our Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The ideals are not antiquated, out dated or out of touch with modern culture.  They are actually the foundation of our society in which the rest of the world aspires to attain.  This is the crown that Dr. Franklin refers to that has fallen in the wake of the injustice of systematic oppression within our land. Democratically elected leaders who fight for the people and uphold the ideals  of our Constitution. The mistake that many make is to make this about race or to believe that this one decision is the impetus for the current unrest and violence.

Its not about one indictment, one moment, or one death. It is about the decades of systematic oppression and racial injustice that is bound up and embodied in that one indictment, one moment, one death. Dr. Robert Brewer

The challenge is introduced with Frederick Douglass’ comments.  Whether we agree with the decision in Ferguson or not years of injustice have disproportionally affected poor people of color through out America.  Dr. Michelle Alexander’s work on the Mass Incarceration in her book, The New Jim Crow, super illuminates the history of systematic incarceration of African American men by the very system designed on the ideals of “forming a more perfect Union”.

Those who are Bible reading folk will quickly quote John 12:8 or Deuteronomy 15:11.  The Poor will always be with us but those who love  God are called in the sacred text to care for, reach out to, do life with the poor.  This is different than the current modern culture of the politically conservative which seems to be “We do what is necessary to put up with the poor but not to change the system of poverty and oppression”. The liberal political culture says to “give the poor food, housing and medical care” without giving support to empower them to change their situations.

Wouldn’t it be amazing that the elected officials from both sides Love your neighborof the spectrum align themselves with the scripture found in Matthew .  Loving your neighbor as yourself is a direct challenge to provide the same comfort, life sustaining for all who are neighbors. This is usually beyond our comfort zone if it is really going to impact their way of life. The agencies that maintain the systems that ensure poverty many times are self preserving to provide individual services rather than solving challenges and empowering the poor to change their conditions. Public education in poor communities are failing across the nation and yet charter schools in the same neighborhoods have new ways of teaching that empower the children to learn, thrive and change their situations and conditions. Many school systems have the right to veto these charter schools who are making an impact because the tenured school union teachers may loose their jobs even though they don’t want to change their teaching strategies. This is just one example of how the “agency” galvanizes it’s power that maintains the system of poverty.  Education, Economy Development, Healthcare and Justice/Criminal systems can be addressed to change the situation of the poor.  The church must learn to do ministry with the poor not to the poor. This will include moving ministries into the city rather than retreating to the suburbs.

 “…a grand jury decided Monday not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the news triggered fresh confrontations between protesters and police in the tense Missouri city.” CNN

My reflections this morning begin with this excerpt from a CNN new article.  There are so many emotions right now that this is not a definitive response but an attempt to organize all of the thoughts.

  1. I pray for the Brown family because they are reliving the grief of losing their son. “Earth has no sorry that heaven cannot heal” is true but when you repeatedly tear the scab off the healing is delayed.  I pray that the family can experience peace.
  2. The brokenness of humanity is evident in every aspect of this situation. As a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ I am fully persuaded that as believers we have failed Michael Brown, Officer Darren Wilson, Jay Nixon, Benjamin Crump the violent rioters, the grand jury and the people live in the area. Too many churches are not teaching that we live by God’s grace, we are saved by God’s Grace and we move toward sanctification by Grace which begins with following Jesus.
  3. Everyone’s life matters. This situation highlights and promotes the systematic devaluation of the lives of young poor black men in the justice system in America. From Florida to Cleveland to Baltimore to Missouri there is no accountability for the killing of young poor black men. There are also is no major movements of men mentoring poor young boys, teaching entrepreneurship, championing academic achievement and involving ourselves in such a way that the masses of poor youth experience the world beyond their community in a significant way.
  4. I am in support of an economic boycott. It must be focused on companies with significant influence and power within the St. Louis area.
  • Emerson Electric
  • Express Scripts
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • Walmart
  • Monsanto
  • Charter Communications
  • A..G. Edwards
  • Boeing
  • Build –a- Bear

Walmart, Monsanto, A.G. Edwards and Charter Communications can be targeted nationwide but will require unbelievable numbers of people to participate to make a difference.

I am angry at the failure of our justice system and the racism that is still evident in America. I am profoundly frustrated with the violence perpetrated by a few as a result of the decision. I am disappointed that the African American community is more reactive than proactive at addressing the conditions of the poor.  I read somewhere (and I don’t have the reference this morning) that for every middle class AA there are five still living below the poverty line.  With this being said our middle class, educated, socially upwardly mobile, DuBois framed talented tenth have fallen short and ignored their responsibility to empower the poor.

As I said this is not the definitive response but an opportunity for me to organize my thoughts for an appropriate response.

Psalm 136

God’s Work in Creation and in History

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who spread out the earth on the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

By. Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan

Jack SullivanJust caught Peter and Paul, of the famed freedom and justice singing trio Peter, Paul and Mary, on the Tavis Smiley show. Goodness, they were magnificent! It was quite good to hear them sing some of the folk songs of the Civil Rights movement while describing the climate surrounding their music and activism. They have a book out titled, “Peter, Paul and Mary: 50 Years in Life and Song”. As I heard their music and reflections, I became inspired by the fact that the sacred work of Civil Rights and freedom has always featured a multicultural, multifaith cast of bold, risk-taking, visionary people who had the audacity to sing their faith and convictions as they delivered truth to power. While our contemporary climate does reveal amazing levels of progress since the 1960s, the rivers and streams of everyday life continue to reveal toxic amounts of waste products such as hate, bigotry, violence, and discrimination of many forms that poison too many of our environments, physical, political and cultural. I am not altogether sure of the many songs we sing when we gather nowadays, but I sure think it is time for our music to recapture the passion and poetry of the songs of people like Peter, Paul and Mary, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and so many others who sang about freedom, justice and peace and therefore provided us with a soundtrack for social progress. During a contemporary era where large segments of society seem to congratulate themselves for not knowing or accepting the histories, values, and aspirations of people who differ from themselves, we need right brain inspiration that can liberate us from the prisons of our linear, individualism-colored world views so that we may actually see ourselves caring for our neighbors by acknowledging then dismantling walls and systems of nullification and selective privilege, by helping each other to succeed, and by learning each other’s story. Now is the time for music that teaches us, transforms us, and then transports us so that we may create earthly places where the long dictatorship of fear comes to an end, where a warm smile can melt glaciers of arrogance, and where people are willing to walk or roll hand-in-hand into a future punctuated by peace, with progress for everybody, and the trivialization of nobody. When we sing songs with these kinds of themes, we open ourselves to God’s still awesome ability to transform the world. I am ready to sing! How about you?

2014 Lenten Devotional

You can request our Lenten devotional to be sent to you daily. Email to info@infinitegracefellowship.org

A little known history fact is that I believed that The Flash was real.  I was always skeptical of Santa

Image but I was convinced that The Flash was the secret to kids all over the world receiving gifts in just one night. I really believed that Santa was just the front man to this multinational conspiracy to keep the identity of The Flash a secret. When my parents told me that Santa wasn’t real I was ok because I still believed in The Flash. I had been to church every year and heard the Christmas story.  I even was in a couple of Christmas plays.  As I turned 10 the reality of Jesus, Santa and the Flash became crystal clear and my world didn’t fall apart.

Another little known history fact is that until last year I had no credible proof that the legends, legacy or institution of Santa had any basis in reality.  I was privileged to visit the Cathedral of St. Nicholas and hear for the first time the story of Bishop Nicholas (http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/)  Although not the image of fables, and commercial Christmas portrayals there was a bishop who cared for the poor and the children with compassion as an expression of God’s love.

I say this because these realities have informed my life and none of them have shaken my faith in Jesus. Parents who are disciples of Jesus Christ have been debating if they should introduce Santa, when they should tell their children that the only story is the story at the manger.  There is some truth to the legends of real person who loved the poor and children because of his love of God.  He cared for the poor and defenseless because of his beliefs.  He sold all that he had and took gifts to the impoverished of his time. This is the man that the legend of St. Nick aka Santa Claus is based on.  Some man getting in a sleigh with Reindeer pulling around the world in 24 hours is false.  Parents spend too much and work real hard to make and spend money to bring their children and loved ones happiness.  I believe that the greatest gifts of the Christmas season are not purchased in stores but nurtured in the relationships of family, friends and loved ones. There are days when I still believe The Flash conspiracy is real. (Yes I will ask Olivia Pope to investigate)

This doesn’t replace, diminish or alter the impact of greatest event in human history,  the miracle of Jesus being born of a virgin as a part of God’s grand plan to save humanity.

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:15-20

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

6 things all leaders should solemnly swear Just as doctors take the Hippocratic oath when starting out in their careers, so corporate leaders should swear a pledge acknowledging their duties and obligations, writes Kevin Eikenberry. He suggests a pledge that includes promises to ask more questions, to acknowledge and work to understand dissenting views and to be patient with change-resistant employees. “And if you care to join me, you will be making a commitment to communicate more effectively, and lead with greater influence,” he writes. KevinEikenberry.com

http://blog.kevineikenberry.com/communication/take-this-oath-to-communicate-change-more-effectively/

How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of God’s Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God ; train me in your ways of wise living.  Psalm 119:9-11 MSG

It is not unusual to see someone chatting in a coffee shop and texting at the same time. It is also not unusual to see a mother walking her child in a stroller and listening to a book at the same time. My favorite is watching college students study, listen to music and eat pizza with our missing a beat. Multi tasking has become second nature and we are constantly acquiring tools to become more efficient at juggling the many demands and desires of our lives.

Multi tasking is not what we are called to do to have a healthy relationship with God. To be in single minded pursuit of God we have to reprioritize our purpose. Our total being and only agenda should be about being in relationship with God. Our parenting should honor God. In the workplace we should be ambassadors of God’s grace. In our neighborhood we should be carrying the light of God.

Eliminate distractions – Everything is not important and some activities do not add value to your life

Study God’s Word- A daily time of reading and studying the scriptures develops our relationship with God

Experience your God given propose – Explore your spiritual gifts and identify the ministries and activities that God has wired you to excel at.

Prayer:  God ,illuminate the distractions in my life so that I can remove them and focus my life totally on you

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,176 other followers