Episode: Beyond Diversity: How Leaders Can Build More Equitable Organizations
Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.
Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.
Michael: And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. Today we’re talking about a critical topic, one that has become very important to us and one that got more attention in 2020 than it has probably in the last 50 years. We’re talking about the contribution leaders can make to diversity in their businesses and in their communities. More specifically, how do we create a thriving, multiracial community inside our companies? To guide us in this conversation, we have trusted pastor, thought leader, speaker, and community activist Dr. Chris Williamson. Dr. Chris, welcome to the show.
Chris Williamson: Hey, Michael. Good to be here. Hey, Megan. Good to see you.
Megan: Hey, Pastor Chris. So glad you’re here. We wanted you to be on today because you have profound and deep experience in creating multiracial community as the pastor of Strong Tower Bible Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Here at Michael Hyatt & Company, we’ve been having a conversation internally, and a little bit externally, about how to create more just and equitable workplaces as leaders.
This podcast is all about leadership. Our listeners mostly are leaders of teams, leaders of companies in some form or fashion, and we’re all trying to figure this out. We recently did an episode where we talked about this, and a lot of the focus of that episode was on recruiting (you can go back and listen to that in our archive) and how do you have more diversity in your organization.
But as I was saying to you before we started recording, it’s kind of only half the battle, because once you have people of color in your organization, if you happen to find yourself in a situation now where you’re not as diverse as you would like to be, then you have to create a community where people of different backgrounds, different races, different genders, etcetera, feel like they belong and want to stay long term and it can actually be something that is beneficial and not divisive. So, we wanted to bring you on today to talk about that, and I’d love for you to start by sharing your story of how you ended up becoming the pastor of a multiracial congregation at Strong Tower Bible Church.
Chris: Wow. I have to go back many, many years, almost 30 years, when I came to Nashville, having graduated from seminary and being a newlywed to my wife Dorena. We moved to Nashville for music, and like so many, when we got here we lost our record contract, so I had to do some other things to support my new bride.
One of the things I did was I was hired by a Presbyterian church in Franklin, Tennessee. I grew up Baptist, so I didn’t know much about Presbyterians. I heard jokes saying they were the chosen frozen, but I went on and cast my lot in with them, and they were a great group of people to work with of the Reformed faith of the Presbyterian Church in America. It was a majority white church, and I was used to being in that kind of environment, because at school I was one of the few African Americans in my classrooms, so I was used to being a minority in the minority, if you will.
This church was about 3,000 members, and they had a heart for reaching the low-income communities, which happened to surround the church within about a two-mile radius. I was brought on staff to help boost their efforts in their outreach, which they had already been doing, but they realized they needed a black man if they were going to effectively reach that black and brown community.
I worked with them for about two and a half years, and then I developed a burden to plant a church, which was something I said I would never do, but I saw the need for a church in the community. As I was serving in the low-income black community, I would also preach at the majority white church. So there would be people who would say from both communities, “If you ever start a church, we’re interested.” Again, that was not on my radar, but, obviously, it was on God’s.
Of course, I took to the Scriptures, and I saw diversity and unity in Scripture. It was just jumping off the pages. So, I launched out and did that. That was in the days when Promise Keepers was also starting and there was an emphasis on racial reconciliation, but as we look back on it, to emphasize reconciliation without emphasizing justice really didn’t allow us to make strides beyond just shaking hands and singing “Kumbaya.”
We started the church with an intentional mission to be diverse. It was written in our mission statement, our vision statement, because, again, we saw it in the Bible. We see it as a kingdom issue. Because we kept talking about it, putting the vision before the people, we were able to succeed. In our early years, our church was probably 70 percent Caucasian. As we went on and had different moves around the city and the area, it went to 50/50, and now that we’re in Nashville and in light of the times we’re in, our church is probably 80 percent African American.
So, we’ve gone through a lot of changes over the years, but one of the things that stood fast for us was the commitment to make sure there was representation in leadership and on the platform. People need to see people who look like them making decisions that count. My elders, my pastors, my staff… Over the years, we’ve done our best to be intentional without being manipulative in the process.
Michael: That’s a good distinction.
Chris: We always want the best person we can find, but we also keep a mindset that the best person may be a native, may be Latino, may be African American, may be Caucasian. Over time, when we see that maybe it’s beginning to tilt to one demographical people group, all the more we’re intentional to try to say, “We need to include a woman. We need to include a white person.” So, that’s how we do it, because it’s one of our core values.
Michael: I have a follow-up question to that. It’s one thing to talk about a multiracial community at a theoretical level, but as you started this community, what were some of the challenges you faced almost immediately? Like, you get these people from disparate backgrounds together. What were some of the challenges you had to overcome in those early days?
Chris: In the early days, you had, of course, economic challenges. I had people who were millionaires sitting next to people on government assistance. The good thing is people didn’t know who was what because there wasn’t a dress code or anything like that. It really was come as you are. Some people wear their fine clothes and other people wear their finest casual clothes.
Early on, the cultural part had to do with the music. Even if they’re unchurched, people have an understanding of what church music should be. If you’re coming from a world where you’re into R&B or soul music, then you’re going to be into gospel music. If you’re coming from a world of contemporary music, you’re looking for contemporary Christian music.
We were blessed to have a very balanced and gifted musical team. Always have by the grace of God. So, we could play Steven Curtis Chapman songs, we could play Matt Redman songs, but we could also play Fred Hammond, John P. Kee, Richard Smallwood. Some Sundays you will be stretched because you’re not familiar with that, but that’s where you say, “You know what? This may not be my style, but my neighbor sure seems to be happy right now, so I’ll be happy for him or her.” Then the next week, it’ll be flipped the other way, and we’ll do something…
We’ll even do jazz and rap, because sometimes church should be about stretching you. As I like to say, I like to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. As Paul said, I have to look out for the interests of others and not just my own. Church is a good place, if it’s multicultural, to be able to do that. Even length of service… Many of my white members came in… Man, 45 minutes to an hour. Hey, man, that’s my sermon time. So we had to split the difference.
Many of us come from backgrounds where we’d be in church all day on Sunday, which comes from our slave backgrounds where Sunday was our day to worship God. We weren’t trying to see that end because of what we had to go back to. That was just inherently within our genes to be in church, and we would finish when the Holy Ghost was finished. My white brothers and sisters were a lot more monochronic with the time, and we were more polychronic. When you pull those cultures together, you have to have balance. You have to have grace and understanding.
Megan: When you were talking at the beginning about how you think about building your leadership team and the representation at the front of the church, and so forth, it got me thinking about the parallel between that and what leaders are facing inside their organizations. There’s so much conversation about the need for diversity right now, particularly at leadership levels. It’s not enough just to have it at the entry level of your organization. You really have to have it all the way up to the top.
I think before we even talk about the cultural stuff and how to make that work, it’s important to hear your perspective on why that matters, why that’s valuable. I know you believe so much in diversity but also unity, and those are things, in a way, that seem like they’re kind of opposed to each other. People feel sometimes like it has to be one or the other. I’m familiar with your books and hearing you speak, and so forth, so I’d love for you to talk about why. Why diversity? Why is this something, as leaders, we should be thinking about? Why does it matter?
Chris: Well, the world we live in is diverse. Even though our neighborhoods might not be diverse and places where we go to church may not be diverse, the world we live in is diverse, and it’s becoming more and more diverse. Studies have said by year 2045, white people will be in the minority in America. So, if we’re going to be leaders who study trends and understand where the market, where the people are going, then we need to prepare in advance.
We want to be proactive so we don’t have to be reactive. We want to reach a culture that will buy into our product, or whatever it is we’re trying to put forth; therefore, we need to understand diversity, which means we have to come out of our comfort zone and do some things differently. I’ll also tell people that diversity is fine, but it’s not the end goal. You can have diversity but still not have inclusion. You can have diversity and still not have equity.
We want to make sure diversity is the thing that gets us going, but that’s not the primary measuring stick. I’ll tell people (and it’s hard to hear) the plantation was diversified, but the plantation wasn’t a place that was inclusive or a place of equity. We don’t want to check boxes. I think that has been the problem in the past. We’ve been content to check boxes and to meet quotas rather than to truly make this a part of our fabric and inner workings as a company and the culture thereby.
Michael: Could you go ahead and define inclusion and equity so we can have a better understanding of how those are different from simple diversity?
Chris: Great question, Brother Mike. I like sports, and the sports world can tell us a whole lot about those three terms. When I think about diversity, that means I have a spot on the team. I’m on the team. There are different people on the same team. When I think of inclusion, I think of different people in the starting lineup on the team. If I’m on the starting lineup, that’s inclusion. Then equity is different people on the same team having access and opportunity to either coach the team or own the team. So, diversity…I’m on the team. Inclusion…I’m in the starting lineup on the team. Equity…I’m making major decisions and even owning the team. I hope that helps.
Michael: Hugely helpful.
Megan: That’s really helpful. Talk a little bit more about what equity and inclusion look like in an organization. I think this is so helpful, so practical to think through these things as we’re trying to make our way as leaders. What does that look like?
Chris: Well, I think you have to listen to where your people are and recognize that representation matters, that it’s important. It builds good organizational health for people to see people who look like them in places of leadership and not just on the team. For instance, when all these things occur in our culture, it looks like pausing and speaking to them, as when George Floyd was murdered in May of 2020.
A company, an organization that is mindful to be a difference-making institution can’t act like an ostrich and put its head in the ground as if nothing is going on, because your employees and your constituents are talking about it. If the people on top don’t talk about it, then, to me, that doesn’t create the best work environment.
People are looking to hear from leaders and not just hear leaders talk about what we’re trying to make financially and building up our margins here and doing this and expanding. They want to hear you talk about what part of their world is, because if you don’t do that, it impacts how they work or how they don’t work.
I have an African-American family member who is vice president of a pretty noteworthy organization, and when the George Floyd situation occurred, the owner of the company, who happens to be white, spoke to the matter, but this wasn’t the first time he had spoken to matters. It wasn’t like he was making an announcement or giving a pronouncement. They understood it was part of their culture and ethos.
Then they had my brother-in-law share as well, and then they encouraged their different departments to take time and talk, because some of it, for people in the black community, was you needed space and time to lament because of what was going on. What you saw, vicariously you felt, so you needed a safe place to mourn, to vent. When you have that kind of culture in your company where the CEO cares about how you feel and will give you time and even encourage you, as they did in my brother-in-law’s company, to take time off if you need it, that kind of stuff goes a long way.
Megan: Yeah, I remember when that happened and we were facing that as a company as well, just what an opportunity that could be so easily missed to say, “Hey, we see you. You matter. You belong here, and there’s room for that experience to happen and for you to have space to lament. You don’t have to compartmentalize that and save that for home. That can be here too, and we appreciate how traumatic that was. Even though we’re not experiencing it maybe, as white leaders, in the same way, we can certainly honor and appreciate it.”
I think that’s such a growth edge for leaders to lean into, because it is vulnerable, especially if you’re white and that’s not an experience you’ve had before, but it’s so important. It’s really where we come together as a human family and acknowledge the humanity in other people.
Michael: So, Pastor Chris, if I’m leading an organization that’s mostly white but I’ve been moved and convicted this last year that things have to change, and maybe I’m somebody who’s probably listening to this podcast… They’ve been doing some reading. They’re trying to take some steps in the right direction. Just to give them some shorthand, what are some of the things they can do today and this year and this quarter to begin to create a more diverse, inclusive, equitable culture?
Chris: There’s an old saying that asks the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. If you look at the whole elephant and say, “I have to consume it now,” you will be overwhelmed and probably not attempt it. When we look at the history of what’s going on in our country in the past and the present, it’s overwhelming for everyone. If we try to solve all of the world problems right now and fix it, we will fail, if we even attempt.
So many of us will be paralyzed with the paralysis of analysis. We won’t ever jump in because it’s just too insurmountable, or so we think. So you have to take a bite. You have to take a step. You have to do something. Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” You have to do something. All of us have the ability to make a change where we are.
So, I would encourage those kinds of leaders to do something, but before we even jump into what to do, I think the why is probably more important to deal with. Why do I want to do something? If I jump in trying to do a what or asking someone to tell me how but my why isn’t there, then the what and the how will be short-lived.
So the why. Why is this important to me? Because we ought to connect on the human level, and what hurts my neighbor ought to hurt and concern me. That’s where the empathy comes. It’s what Jesus would say. It’s loving your neighbor, and the things that affect your neighbor ought to affect you. Some of it means being intentional to be inclusive. As, once again, the Lord… I’m a preacher. I know you have a lot of business leaders, but, hey, there ain’t no but here.
Jesus talked about the parable of the good Samaritan, the intentionality of the Samaritan to stop and help the man who was battered and bruised and left half dead in the road. He made an investment, which meant he took a risk. I believe when we make investments and we take risks, they are ones that pay great dividends as opposed to just sitting on the sidelines doing nothing, continuing to get the same thing. In just a matter of time you will be obsolete because the world will pass you by.
You have to make some intentional steps to read some things you may have never read, listen to some people you’ve never listened to before, watch some things you’ve never watched before, but also this. I think you have to get into the world of other people and not expect them to always get into your world. In other words, you have to incarnate. You have to go where the fish are biting. You have to go where people are, and you have to become one of them.
I tell people often that your boardroom is simply a reflection of your dining room and your living room, and it’s also a reflection of the living rooms and dining rooms you spend time in. If you’re not spending time in other living rooms and dining rooms and other kinds of people are not coming into your living room and dining room, how can we expect your boardroom to look diverse? It starts at home.
Megan: Okay. I have a question about that practically that I hear often from my white friends, particularly white friends who don’t have many people of color in their immediate circle of friends or family. They say, “I just don’t know how to start these conversations. Is it okay to talk about race? Is it not okay? What should I say? What should I not say? Are people going to be offended?”
Similarly, from business leaders… I hear this from other leader friends of mine. They’re wondering with their employees who are people of color, “Can I start conversations about race? Do they want to be included? Do they want to not be included?” This is where people get that paralysis of analysis thing and they just get stuck and they don’t move. What would you say? I’m sure this question comes up a lot in your congregation for new people.
Chris: Oh yes. Fear is a real thing…fear of failing, fear of rejection, even fear of hiring the wrong person, fear of inviting in a different set of problems, fear of disrupting the comfort zone, fear of being talked about, fear of what your family is going to think about you. One of the reasons you are successful is because you’ve overcome your fears and you’ve taken risks and you’ve done what is necessary. You’re a leader, and that’s what leaders do. Leaders are not always born, leaders are not always made, but leaders rise when the circumstances call for leadership.
You have to step up and step out and take a risk and ask the question. Most people are willing to have that conversation, but I’ll also say a lot of people are tired of having conversations, especially if they don’t lead to any kind of action. I would just say to my white brothers and sisters: Give it a try. Take a chance. Ask a question. Treat people the way you would want someone to treat you. We don’t hold to the notion of being color-blind. We’re colorful, but that’s still a person over there who hurts the way you hurt, and on and on. So, reach them on a soul level, a practical level.
We need wisdom on how to deal with the issue of race without making race the issue. I know that was a mouthful. Let me say it again. We need wisdom on how to deal with the issue of race without making race the issue, but if we look at, again, our history, we know race has been the issue since 1619 when the first Africans arrived. We don’t want to act like it’s not real and, again, have such an unrealistic perspective, but neither do we want to make everything about it. You just have to have that balance. When people know you care, there’s grace for you.
I just saw that Tom Brady, the amazing Tom Brady, did it again yesterday. He’s going back to the Super Bowl. It makes you wonder now. Was it the system or was it the man or was it both? Probably both. That’s an amazing feat to take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were pretenders last year, and make them contenders this year.
The head coach, Bruce Arians, understands something about diversity. In the NFL, we see a lot of minority representation on the field and not so much in the coaching box or in the owner’s suite, but they’re trying. You know, the Rooney Rule has worked, it hasn’t worked. At least it’s on people’s radar. But for Bruce Arians, what I did not know until yesterday was that his entire coaching staff is populated with black men and one Latino woman…his entire staff.
Chris: Yeah, that’s what I said. Offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, special teams…all these are black men and one, for lack of a better term, brown woman. Even that is revolutionary. I bet when he was putting that team together people were saying, “Wait a minute now. This is not what we’re used to around here. We’re okay with one or two of them on the team, but all of them?” I bet you he heard some heckling from the crowd. But guess what. They’re going to the Super Bowl. He put the best people in places of power, and it worked. Boy, I love it.
Michael: I love that too.
Chris: The NFL follow trends. If the run and shoot is working, another team is going to do the run and shoot. If this style is working, if they’re hiring offensive coordinators, then everybody starts doing that. Well, wouldn’t it be great if more teams were intentional to hire African-American coaches? So, yeah, I liked that. Being intentional.
Michael: Nothing preaches like success.
Chris: Mmm. Come on, Mike.
Michael: If you consider, Pastor, what has happened… What a year 2020 was. In the last 10 months, and particularly since the tragic murder of George Floyd… As you’re standing here today as we’re recording this and you look back, what encourages you… What signs of life, if there are any, have encouraged you since that happened to this day? Then I want to ask you the flip side to that question. What’s still missing? What has yet to happen that those of us who are in leadership can help make happen?
Chris: Oh my, Michael. See, I want to be invited back, so I’ll be careful, but I know you want me to be honest. You’ve been a good friend to me.
Michael: I do.
Chris: There’s an old saying that says, “Move with the movers.” What I have realized is that, unfortunately, the majority… This is my opinion, and I’m painting with a broad brush, so forgive me. The majority of white Americans, especially those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, don’t want this. They want surface unity, surface diversity, but they don’t want truly to have inclusion and justice, equity, fairness, even repair at the roots, because to admit to that means you may have received some of your prosperity unfairly because of how the scales have been unjustly tilted in the history of this country.
No one wants to say you’re not working hard, but some of us are saying there are just some things you don’t have to face as you work hard that others of us have to face, and it’s a real field of land mines we must go through. Even if we go back to the time of slavery, the Civil War, the days of segregation, it’s only a remnant of people who want it, who want America to really live up to its ideals…just a remnant, just a small group of whites who want it.
I’ve encouraged myself by looking at that group…those people in my church, those people in my life, the young man my daughter is dating and will hopefully marry. I look at them to get my encouragement, because if I look at the masses and I look at what I saw at the Capitol on January 6…people carrying Jesus banners and Confederate flags…I’ll get discouraged. I move with the movers. I run with the remnant. I try to walk with people who do more than talk.
I have white allies in my life who encourage me when I get discouraged, and that, my friend, is surreal. They come alongside me and say, “Pastor” or say “Chris, keep your head up. Keep going, man. People are listening. They may not admit it, but they’re listening.” So, rather than looking for the whole group or a bunch of people, I just look for a few. The Nicodemus who came and talked to Christ that night who then made a public stand later… It’s those people who encourage me.
Michael: So good.
Chris: Mike, I’m trying not to preach, brother.
Michael: No. Preach on.
Chris: You said we’re coming in for a landing, baby. I’m trying. I’m trying.
Megan: Okay. Pastor Chris, I’m inspired by what you just said, by your preaching. It was great. But how do we know if we’re in that small minority of people who are really willing to do the work, who want inclusion, who want equity, who want justice? How can we self-diagnose ourselves to know if we’re on course or not? Because it’s so important as leaders.
Chris: That’s a great question. I think there are many layers to the answer. I don’t think there’s just one cookie-cutter answer, but I do think there are a couple of characteristics. I think, first, there will be humility. Humility is important, because when you’re humble, that’s when you’re teachable, but if you’re not humble, you’re not teachable. There will be a lot you will have to learn from people who you normally don’t have speak into your life to teach you.
So, humility to learn, to listen, but also humility to follow, because sometimes it takes following people. In my world, what I do… The church is a business. We have staff and we have budgets and facilities and all of that. We may not be taxed, but we’re a business. I’ll encourage people to come under minority leadership. If this is a core value, something you want to see occur, the best way to learn is to be invited to the barbecue.
Come to the barbecue. Come to the church. Place yourself under leadership. This is good for your children to see. A lot of the white people I interact with… Nine times out of ten, they don’t have anywhere in their life where they submit to minority leadership. When they make choices of things they want, they don’t always choose to go to minorities to have those needs met. Their worlds are, by and large, white by choice and by the way things are set up.
Again, we come back to the word intentional. It’s great to come under a black mentor. Not just a tutor, somebody I can call. “Hey, can you give me an answer to something?” But somebody you put your life under and say, “You know what? I’m going to come under you. Would you teach me?” For me, as a pastor, I love when that happens, especially when I have interracial couples and they don’t feel love from this group or that group. They can come into our church because they know they’re going to be loved.
And for our white members, they hear me say things and teach things they would normally not hear in other spaces and places, and it’s tough at first. Here’s another quality: don’t quit when it gets tough, because you’re going to hear things you normally don’t hear. Don’t mistake passion for anger. Even if there is anger, recognize it’s okay to have righteous indignation, because some of us are upset about injustice and things that are going on.
But you’re going to hear things from a biblical perspective that you may have never heard nor considered before, and then when you look up… “Man, these people are educating me.” I have them in my church. They’re telling me history. They’re telling me things. I have a member of my church… I don’t want to chase this too far, but he wanted to do something about the Confederate flag symbol that’s on the seal in our county. This is a white brother who has adopted African children, and I’m his pastor. He told me about what was on the seal. I wasn’t paying attention to the seal.
Once he told me, I said, “I’ll come behind you in this fight.” So, he lines up under me, I line up under him, we’re lined up under God, and I’m here to say that I was added to the nine-member task force to get rid of the Confederate flag on the seal. We did that together, but that wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t placed under. So, the humility, the intentionality, and submitting. Those things are important.
Michael: I know this is just a taste of what people can expect in interacting with you. Not everybody is going to have the privilege. They don’t live in Nashville. They go to another church. They don’t have the privilege of interacting with you on an ongoing basis, but you have a brand-new course that is a way for people to kind of get the download. So, could you tell us a little bit about it…what it is, why you created it, and who it’s for?
Chris: 2020 was tough with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the murder of Breonna Taylor, and then we came upon George Floyd, which we all got to see as he had the officer’s knee on his neck for almost nine minutes. It touched America, I feel, the way America was touched in 1963 when white Americans witnessed Bull Connor sic the dogs on the children and the elderly in Birmingham. It struck a chord to say, “We have to be better than this. We have to do better than this.”
I feel that that’s what happened when people got to witness George and hear him cry for his mother as life was coming out of his body. I saw a breaking point in many of my white friends that I had not seen before, and they came to me asking, “What can we do? What can we do now? We don’t agree with this. We’re listening. Police brutality is real. What can we do now?”
He passed on Monday. I had Bible study on Wednesday, and I had to feed my flock and encourage them, and I happened to be in John, chapter 11, that night. John, chapter 11, is when Lazarus dies. The Lord gave me a word on how to encourage a community when someone dies. Out of that came a curriculum entitled Loosing Lazarus: Seven Ways to Deconstruct Personal and Structural Racism From John 11.
Sometimes we just want to talk about personal racism. “I’m not a racist because I’m not a part of the Ku Klux Klan and I don’t use the N-word.” We talk about that, but also, we deal with institutional racism, racism that is in structures that hinder certain people and hold back progress. We get into it from John 11, because Jesus shows us from the text, I say, seven things.
The first thing is Jesus went. When Lazarus died, he went there. He went into the community. Secondly, he wept when he got there, which meant it burdened him. It touched him. I like to tell people he wept even though he knew a brighter day was coming. He knew a resurrection was coming. We know we’re going to heaven, but that doesn’t mean we should be devoid of feeling right now. We don’t want to be so spiritual we’re not earthly present. So, he wept in that moment because he saw what death had done to that family and that community.
Then thirdly, he led. He began to lead his disciples into that place, a place they didn’t want to go, but he led them there. We have responsibility to lead our families, our corporations, our churches into these places. Fourthly, Jesus taught. He taught Mary and Martha about the resurrection. They were thinking about resurrection in the future, and he was like, “Honey, I’m talking about resurrection now.” All of us need to have some things where we have to be retaught on some things.
The fifth thing Jesus did is he prayed. We must pray in this hour. Then he also spoke. When he said, “Lazarus, come forth,” he used his authority. When we use our voices, we’re using our power. He wasn’t silent, because his silence could have been interpreted as complicity or agreement. He spoke. We need to use our voices, which means using our power to say, “This is wrong, and I’m willing to suffer the consequences for standing on the side of truth.”
Then, finally, Jesus empowered Lazarus. There are Lazaruses in our community who need to be empowered. Jesus empowered Lazarus by telling his team to take the bandages off him. It’s one thing to come out of the grave alive, but it’s something different when you have the bandages of restrictions taken off you. We can’t just be concerned about people’s souls. Yeah, they’re going to heaven. Give them the gospel.
The gospel also involves binding up the brokenhearted and even loosening the chains of those who are imprisoned. Lazarus needed help to be a full citizen to move on with his life. So, how can you empower Lazarus in your community? Many times, they’re dying at the hands of the police. They’re dying. They’re being shot. They’re unarmed. They’re dying at the hands of other black men. What can we do?
Man, this thing is on fire. It has short videos where I teach on the passage, and then it has questions and group discussions and group exercises so you can be someone who has been set free. When Jesus set Lazarus free, the apostles, the disciples, had a lesson they needed to learn in that moment too. It wasn’t just about Lazarus. They had some learning to do as well. So, I hope your audience will go to loosinglazarus.com and check it out. It’ll bless you.
Michael: Guys, you’ve got to do it. Check it out…loosinglazarus.com. Pastor, we’re, first of all, so proud to know you and so honored that we have you in our community and that you were willing to come on and talk to us about these matters. We’re trying to do the best with what we have, and this is a gift to us and to our community, so thank you.
Chris: Michael, I want to commend you for being an ally, for being a true brother. There are times you speak up and you say things to challenge leadership. Leaders like you and me speak truth to power on both sides of the political divide. We love people well, and we love them enough to say things that are necessary even if it may be misinterpreted as being painful for them.
I see the things you do in the community, brother, the things you say on social media, and, man, thank you. Thank you, brother. You encourage my heart. I’ve seen you at various prayer vigils and demonstrations in the community, and it just blesses my heart. I don’t know if this will get edited out. I hope it doesn’t. I want your listeners to know that you walk the talk. Praise God. See, man, you’re about to get me started, brother.
Michael: Well, thank you. Thank you for that.
Chris: And, Megan, you too, sis. The things you and your husband have done, things I know about, the commitments you’ve made in the community as well to let your light shine. Praise God. Amen. I’m energized by this conversation. So often I’m drained because I’m talking to people who say, “Talk to me,” but they really don’t want to learn. They’re checking the box. But I’m talking to people who are in it, who are doing it, and, man, I’m encouraged by you guys. Keep up the good work.
Michael: Thank you.
Megan: Thank you. Likewise.
Michael: We feel like we have so far to go, but with friends like you, we’re going to make it. So, thank you. Thank you for joining us for this episode of Lead to Win. Until next time, lead to win.