After entering the year with the word “Overcome” in my
heart, I celebrated turning the BIG 4-0! I decided that I would live my
#BestLifeAt40. I traveled for a speaking engagement, started an Executive
Director class, went on a personal retreat, and attended the first class of my
doctorate program. Somewhere in the first few weeks of the year, God started whispering
to my spirit, “Be Open.” What started as a sensing, led to a question, “Be open
to what?” Within a month, my husband started talking about an opportunity for
shifting his job. A great opportunity for him. An invitation from God to me,
any opportunity to answer his whisper, even when I didn’t know the response to
my question. One conversation led to another, and within a matter of days, my
husband had accepted a new job. The past few months have been like a tornado
for our family. Not nearly as damaging, but unexpected, Yes. A change and
conflict in tempers, Yes. Instability, absolutely. Strong rotations and violent
winds, without a doubt. Now it is official. The storm has passed, and the three
of us have landed in our new home in Madison, Alabama. On our first night
together, my husband lay next to me, squeezed my hand, looked with a glance and
said, “We survived it.”
This is the start of many new things for my family. I had never been to the state of Alabama before I visited to find us a new home. I had no reason to come. I didn’t think I would ever live anywhere more southern than South Carolina, but here we are. This is our first time not living on the east coast. I actually have to think about time zone changes when talking to most of my family and friends. We have landed and this is home for now. I don’t know what God is doing, but the wind tells me that this is about more than my husband and his job. I’m open. I’m here.
What is God asking you to “Be Open” to in this season?
The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change
Authors: Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil and Rev. Rick Richardson
Why I picked up this book (I have the expanded edition, which I highly recommend):
Since completing a seminary course in racial reconciliation studies in 2012, and specifically in light of the racism and injustices against people of color that have gained national attention over the past few years, I have either been praying and reading more about the gospel as the ministry of reconciliation, or reading work by those who have committed their lives and ministry to the pursuit of reconciliation. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil is one of those such reconcilers, and I have enjoyed learning from her writing, teaching, and preaching.
I am slowly recovering from a spring and summer that has been full of travel, speaking engagements, and new initiatives. Between April and the August, I found myself going from one key initiative to another. My family and I knew this season was coming and prepared for it as best we could, and now I am seeking to intentionally finish well and wrap up all of the projects from that time. For me, that also includes entering a time of prayerful reflection as I document the many lessons God was teaching me, and particularly how he wants these experiences to shape me going forward. I’m entering a time of reassessing priorities and focus, and asking, “Where do I need change?”
It is evident to me on so many levels—my personal life and ministry, the church, culture, and the world—that God is constantly calling us to change. Oftentimes, a leader’s responsibility is to initiate change or manage the change that is in motion. The challenge of a mentor is often convincing their mentees, and even themselves, to take risks or not be afraid of change. Whether we decide to remain comfortable and plant our feet firmly where we are, or whether we decide to move forward and try something different will drastically shape the trajectory of our lives, ministry, communities, and work. If we are truly going to lead in this world as faith leaders, and mentor others to lead well, then we must be willing to take risks even when we are uncertain of the outcomes.