Today at our joint elder meeting, I received a letter from an anonymous author about the upcoming Fishbowl. The letter was in response to Courtney Spradlin's August 7th, interview of me concerning the upcoming event (here).
I read the letter aloud to my fellow elders and needless to say there was silence. I folded up the letter and then continued to lead the meeting.
The letter which you can view at the left, arrived with no return address and no signature. The letter written on August 12, 2013 opened with these exact words,
"There isn't any reson for people to use the "N" word when referring to you
folks-when thee are a lot of more fun words to describe you such as..."
The letter proceeded to layout in alphabetical order a list of disparaging racial slurs directed at my ethnic group. The remaining part of my day could be characterized with one word, "sadness." I am sad for the man or woman who chose to take the time and energy to write and mail this information. I am sad that this man or woman has a mind and heart that is captured in the prison of ignorance and worships at the altar of their own ethnic idolatry. I am sad that I may never meet this individual and have an honest discussion about the letter.
Every situation is an opportunity to learn.
Finally, I went back and forth about putting something in writing about this letter. I realized that people need to know this upcoming Fishbowl has struck both a positive and negative nerve with people. I remain committed to carrying out the Gospel and applying love to every situation afforded to me. I remain committed to our city and the peace of it.
Grace to you,
When someone says, “Tell me about yourself,” what story do you tell? You can tell the “biographical story,” that outlines your birth, important people, travels, educational accomplishments, employment history, and current work. This story offers the listener the opportunity to connect with you on a personal level. The alternative story I typify as the “awesome story.” The awesome story is the epic journey that amazes your listener with the mighty feats which leave him or her saying, “Praise God.” It is the story which gives the listener the impression you are standing on the mountain of achievement and basking in the sunshine of perfection.
There is a third story that is rarely told. The "failure story" is equally critical to your life as a leader or emerging leader. The failure story is intertwined with biography and awesome, but this story is hidden in our pockets. We bring that story out and fumble with it through our fingers as we sit alone in our quiet places. Therefore, this Leadership Friday I want to share with you my failure story. I write my story simply as a chronological list of failures that serve as important lessons in my biological and awesome stories. Hopefully, you will take time and share your own story with others as well.
Now, I could go on about my failures as a husband, a father and all the other hats I am privileged to wear on a daily basis. Your story of failure combined with your biographical and awesome stories creates faith today. Faith requires men and women to embrace the daily events of joy and shame. I would not know what it means to prioritize, listen to others, be specific regarding instructions, and trusting the experience of others if it were not for my failures. The failures strip us of pride and self-exaltation for the meaningful realization each of us are becoming someone greater. Therefore, embrace it all. Have faith that God is taking you to that next moment-biographical, failure, or awesome- in the story he has ultimately written for you and the praise of his name.