Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Proverbs 20:28 (The Message)
Last night I had the honor of keynoting the second annual Resurrection Gala and Anchor Community Awards, hosted by Mt Helm Baptist Church. It was the second time I publicly addressed Jackson’s oldest black congregation since becoming Rector of Oakland Chapel at Alcorn State University.
My friend Jason Thompson was slated to introduce me, and he uncontestably offered the best introduction I’ve received in my nearly fourteen years of ministry. Jason is a gifted orator and as PyInfamous, his hip hop doppelganger, he is used to exploring the revolutionary aims of the English language. Yet I was moved by the way he narrated my life through the lens of leadership.
Jason became a member of Mt Helm not long after I began my pastorate there, but we knew each other long before that. We both grew up in small towns in Copiah County, Mississippi. Last night, he swore that my hometown (Hazlehurst) was a suburb of his hometown (Crystal Springs). Of course, I had to remind him that Hazlehurst was the county seat of Copiah County, thus making H-town more important than the tomato capital of the world. It was a humorous exchange that nevertheless reminded me of our upbringings in small town Mississippi and how we both employ those rich experiences in what we do now.
Jason continued to share how our paths again crossed at the University of Mississippi, where we both attended and were involved in student leadership. Later, we connected again once I finished my graduate studies at Duke and returned to Jackson to make a difference. At wonderful points in our lives, our leadership seemed to intersect, and Jason demonstrated that perfectly.
But the best part of his introduction was his use of Proverbs 20:28. Jason opened up with that verse, read from Eugene Peterson’s The Message. At each moment of his introduction that powerful word jump out. Leadership is about love, truth, and integrity. It has been my hope that all that I do is defined by those three virtues, and Jason shared with such profound simplicity the ingredients all leaders should live by.
May every step and breath I take in marriage and ministry be saturated in love of God and neighbor; the truth of God and truth about the human condition; and integrity in my private and public life.
And may these three abide in your life, too.