The Test Of A Man

To say I’m excited about mentoring a fine group of men is an understatement.  In fact – I’m ECSTATIC!  How often are we allowed the chance to impart and pour our lives into others?  I told our men that this will be one of the most difficult assignments they’ll ever encounter.  I will teach them…stretch them…develop them…train them…correct them…as they transition into fine Christian leaders in their homes, communities, and church.

(Praying for our Men of Promise. Sunday, November 7, 2010)

I crossed the burning sands of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., on March 4, 1987 @ 10:54:35pm while attending Jackson State University in Jackson, MS.  While pledging* (The Men of Alpha Phi Alpha DO NOT participate in or condone any form of hazing :-D), my line (The Naughty 9) read poems that instilled hope and inspiration.  The inspiration from these poems gave us the strength to reach towards the finishing line.  I shared with the Men of Promise how nothing great comes without sacrifice, dedication, and hard work.  Therefore, I believe this poem, “The Test of a Man” will prove beneficial to their development.

THE TEST OF A MAN

(Author Unknown)

The test of a man is the fight that he makes,

The grit that he daily shows;

The way he stands upon his feet,

And takes life’s numerous bumps and blows.

A coward can smile when there’s naught to fear.

And nothing his progress bars,

But it takes a man to stand and cheer,

While the other fellow stars.

It isn’t the victory after all

But the fight that a Brother makes.

A man when driven against the wall, still stands

erect and takes the blows of fate with his head held high,

bleeding and bruised and pale,

Is the man who will win and fate defied,

For he isn’t afraid to fail.

Question:  What Scriptures, poems, or quotes get you through the day?

Men of Promise – Leadership For Today's Church

Five years ago I received a clear calling.  This calling was as clear as my call to preach and pastor.  God directed me to personally develop and mentor 100 men to become devoted Christians and strong spiritual leaders.

THE NAME – MEN OF PROMISE

The process and material to develop these leaders is called Men of Promise. Inspiration for our name comes from the Moses’ encounter with his father-in-law Jethro who asks Moses, “What are you really accomplishing here?”  Moses would sit and hear ALL the people’s disputes against each other from morning till evening (Exodus 18:13-14).  Jethro told Moses, “This is not good.  You’re going to wear yourself out and the people too.” (Exodus 18:15-16).  He goes on to instruct Moses to “select from all the people CAPABLE, honest men who fear God and hate bribes and show them how to lead.”  (Exodus 17-21).  Men of Promise are today’s emerging leaders in our church.  Some are ready and some are raw…but they are our best.

I Confess: "I'm A Cheater"

WE ALL ARE CHEATERS!

Now that I have your attention…the fact that you decided to continue reading after insulting you is an indication that you are a person of profound courage.  For almost everyone, the words “cheater” or “cheating” has negative connotations, especially if you’ve ever been cheated.  Students cheat in school.  Adults cheat on their income taxes.  Husbands cheat on their wives.  Wives cheat on their husbands.  Most of us at one time or another has cheated!

When we cheat, we chose to give up one thing in hopes of gaining something else of greater value.  As I stated before, we’re all cheaters.  Daily we make decisions to give up one thing in order to gain something else.  Everyday we face a variety of responsibilities and opportunities: work…family…hobbies…fraternities & sororities…social clubs…sports leagues…the list is endless.  Each competes for our most valuable resource, OUR TIME.  But to give each of these the time it demands or deserves would require more time than we have.  So we cheat.

I invite you to join us this Easter as I begin a new series called “Cheaters.”  Trust me, you will not want to miss a single weekend!

WEEK ONE (Easter Weekend)
MESSAGE: “What’s My Number?” (Psalm 90:10; Proverbs 3:5-6)

This message seeks to remind people that the time with their children and loved ones will pass before they know it.  Therefore, it is wise to prioritize our time and spend it with the people who matter most!  We will have special giveaways for those in attendance.

Our Services:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 @ 7pm
Good Friday, April 2, 2010 @ 7pm
Sunday, April 4, 2010 @ 8am
Sunday, April 4, 2010 @ 10:30am

See you there!

The Missing Ingredient We All Need

Quick – Who makes the best pound cake in the world?

My Aunt Doretha used to make the best pound cake in the whole world. It was so rich and creamy. I remember visiting my Aunt Doretha one summer and she explained to me that it was called a pound cake because it used a pound of butter and a pound of sugar (talk about busting the diet). Although it may not have been healthy, it sure was delicious! As I reflect on my aunt’s recipe, I wonder if the pound cake would lose its taste if one of the MAJOR ingredients (sugar or butter) were missing? Would it remain rich and creamy or morph into chewy disaster?

In today’s politics, both Democrats & Republicans demonize those who attempt to move to the middle in an attempt to forge compromises and solve problems that meet the needs of all. We all suffer from this polarization. We desperately need more leaders in Washington who can collaborate.

Google gives an example of what could happen if people would collaborate:

To improve collaboration with others, there may be no greater source for “how to” than Dale Carnegie’s 1936 classic How To Win Friends and Influence People. The principles are timeless. Some of the techniques we can each use to strengthen our collaborations with others include:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people. Take the time to ask them about themselves, their points of view, their histories.
  2. Be a good listener. Remembering we’ve been given two ears and one mouth, and using them in that ratio, is a great first step. Let others do the majority of the talking. Put yourself in the “reverent” listening mode, like the person you are speaking with is telling you the most important thing in the world. No multi-tasking while listening. No trying to get in a word edge wise.
  3. Be empathetic. Try honestly to see things from the other’s point of view. Repeat key points of what you’ve heard. Even if you don’t agree with the idea, paraphrase your understanding of their thoughts and needs and refrain from judging.
  4. Be open, supportive and encouraging in your collaborations with others. Encourage diverse perspectives. Seek to understand. Be optimistic and supportive when hearing other points-of-view.

In my humble opinion, there’s something wrong with leaders from every walk of life. It appears we’ve lost the art of collaboration. It’s the missing ingredient we all need if we’re to be successful in life!

Do you currently practice collaboration with others? If so, how? If not, why?

Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork

The mark of a great leader is how many great people will join his or her team. King David’s team was comprised of “mighty men.”  Because David attempted mighty things, only the mighty could keep up with him.  Those who could not keep pace could not join the team.

Teamwork

Don Bennett was the first amputee to climb Mt. Rainier.  His testimony is simple – if you try such a feat with only one leg, “you can’t do it alone.”  However, Bennett understood that not just anyone could help.  Bennett did not recruit his helpers in a nursing home.  He built a team of people who WANTED to climb a 14,410-foot peak and who COULD climb a 14,410-foot peak.  One who attempts mighty feats had better be capable of recruiting a mighty team.

David did just that.  His was one of the most celebrated teams in the entire Old Testament.  This group was the all-star team of his battle-hardened warriors.  Several things stand out as we consider how David pulled his team together.

First, he spent time with them in battle. These men were welded to David by the hot fires of battle.  His inner circle consisted of those men who had fought alongside him.  He knew their capabilities, because he had seen what they could do with their own eyes.

Second, he sacrificed for them. When three of his mighty men risked their lives to obtain drinking water for him during a battle, David refused to drink it, choosing instead to pour it out onto the ground (vv. 13-17).  That act of sacrifice communicated a depth of devotion and love that had to have impressed those warriors.

Third, they enjoyed victory together. Time and time again David and his mighty men faced seemingly insurmountable odds and saw God deliver them.

Finally, David honored them. These men were well known throughout the land as “David’s Mighty Men.”  That phrase served as a banner that set them as extraordinary.  As you read this account, one thing becomes clear: David knew he couldn’t do it alone.

Should I Follow My Head or My Heart?

We all have done things like starting a business with no business plan.  Quitting a regular and somewhat satisfying job to get back to our millionaire dreams.  For me decision making was always simple and fast.  “Just follow the heart.” I never cared to think if it was right or wrong and I don’t allow myself to regret past decision or choices.  This rule of thumb allowed me to make decisions which at times others thought were crazy and outrageous (at least I was happy).  Following your heart is like a roller-coaster ride and we can safely admit we enjoy it.

follow your heart

While it may not be specifically true, the heart has been considered the seat of our emotions. Within the heart is located a still, small, voice that some refer to as our conscience.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?  Jeremiah 17:9

Moving On…

Everyone has made poor choices or done something in their past that could possibly be coined as “regrettable.”  It’s easy to play the blame game, pointing fingers at someone else or circumstances as to why you have stumbled or why your life is difficult.  Taking personal ownership that your past actions resulted in bringing about your currently reality is the first step to moving past regrets and moving toward a brighter future.

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Here’s what I’d like for you to do:

ACKNOWLEDGE A MISTAKE HAS BEEN MADE

If your past actions or words have harmed another person an apology may be in order.  Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes.  Continually berating yourself for past actions is self-defeating.  Righting a wrong is not always feasible.  If you feel badly about a past action, forgive yourself, others, and let it go and move on!

Jungle Fever: The Most Segregated Hour

Racism still exists (even in the church)
That’s right, I said it!

Americans may be poised to elect an African-American as president, but it’s segregation as usual in U.S. churches, according to the scholars.  Only about 5 percent of the nation’s churches are racially integrated, and half of them are in the process of becoming all-black or all-white, says Curtiss Paul DeYoung, co-author of United by Faith, a book that examines interracial churches in the United States.

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Personally, I do not believe integrated churches work.
(when they are led by Black pastors)

Who's Got Jungle Fever?

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In 1991, Spike Lee released his fifth feature-length film Jungle Fever.  The plot centers on the interracial romance between a successfully married Black, played by Wesley Snipes, and an Italian woman played by Anabella Sciorra.  The lovers come under intense pressure from their friends and family as a result of their interracial relationship.  It’s no secret that even today, interracial relationships are still under intense scrutiny – even when it comes to attending church.

For most of white America, the black church is an alien segment of the nation’s culture, hidden behind the plain facades of large brick churches, the rude clapboard of country chapels, the salvation-emblazoned windows of tattered storefronts.  It is a montage of impressions, some real, some misleading the low-moaning spirituals, the clapping and the shouted amens; the phenomenon of a Bishop TD Jakes and the curious charisma once possessed the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell; the prophetic, nation-shaking philosophy of a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the pragmatic, neighborhood-building politics of a Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Tips for Success – Build Bridges, Don't Burn Them

Build Bridges – Not Walls

When you leave a job, church, organization, for whatever reason, be sure to leave on good terms; you never know when you will need to contact or utilize former employers or co-workers for recommendations or networking purposes. 

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If you leave with an attitude of "good riddance," others will not be inclined to maintain a relationship with you.  Wishing other well, providing your personal contact information, and making every effort to stay in touch are great ways to leave lines of communication open.