The funeral of Coretta Scott King had lots of banality, but it also gave me a chance to hear the preaching of some of my favorite speakers including Jimmy Carter and Bill & Hillary Clinton.
It’s my sense that if a church service doesn’t embolden and empower you to make better decisions in the week ahead — and that almost always means harder decisions — then it has missed its mark. You should leave both knowing how to and wanting to live a more righteous life, a life where what you know to be theologically right and what you choose to do are more unified. In other words, it should help you make choices that come more from knowledge of the lessons of God rather than from the expectations of the community.
And when Bill spoke, when Hill spoke, that was the essence of their message: Coretta Scott King and her husband Martin were people who, when God chose them to do her work, said yes.
Leadership is the esssence of doing the work. To be a true follower of a leader who made an impact like Jesus, to follow in those footsteps, you have to lead. And leadership means standing up, standing alone, and using your personal power to get people to do the right thing, with compromise, persuasion and even maybe a a bit of intimidation.
I have hung out with some Christians lately. It seems to me that they have a hard time encouraging callings that are too big, ones that really challenge the community, and more than that, challenge the leaders. Of course, this is the challenge Dr. King and the rest of the young turks faced, a generation of blacks leaders who had found comfort in the status quo and didn’t understand why they had to risk their standing to help people like garbage collectors.
I love good sermons that lift the heart, and I was moved.
But they followed it up with a video clip job that ended with Oprah giving Mrs. King a makeover and calling her royalty. Not a bad thing to do in a life, but a way to always remember her? A way to speak of how she did important work?
This is my secret: I love good, powerful, empowering preaching, the invocation of the possibility of magic & potency that lies within each and every one of us.
But what I seem to find is earnest mush that shrinks from a real call to transcendance of fear to acting in unconditional love.
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.
Small people always do that,
but the really great make you feel that you, too,
can become great.
I know the call, and it is to be great.
But anyone know where I can find some great people who might actually not be afraid of greatness and who can affirm it in me?
I’ve looked. I’ve looked.