Church and school are no place for young black men

What in the world did he just say!?!?

I don’t believe church is a place that fosters growth in young black men ages 25-35. Next time you go to church, count the young men you see, (maybe speak and say a kind word or two lol) and you’ll see my observation. When you take a look, notice that children are accounted for, high school students, mothers, and fathers (typically active in the church–mostly deacons, ushers, and parking lot security) are all accounted for. But not US.

Heres the Breakdown. We as young black men are typically taught our gifting’s are in our legs. Sometimes the only way we get out of our neighborhoods is through sports. The schools we get recruited to attend are often out of state, hours from our homes and communities and once we get out to those schools there typically aren’t churches out there that can connect with us and pour into us individually (small groups would be ideal). After 4 grueling years of being an indentured servant to the NCAA and NAIA, we’re sent back home with a cap and a piece of paper. To get a job at all in most cases you need a degree and some experience in the field (HOW CAN YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE, YOU WERE LITERALLY JUST SITTING IN CLASS), and guess what? Hiring managers don’t look at how many practices you attended, how many points you scored or your size and weight. They’re just looking to see if you interview well and fit the needs of their company.  Oh by the way; when did we have time for interview coaching? Before or after practice? If you were an athlete then you understand the grueling schedule: 6 am weights, breakfast at 7:30, class from 9-12, Lunch, class from 1-2:30, team meeting at 3, individual position breakouts til 3:30 (going over plays watching film), getting treatment or taped at the athletic trainer, actual practice 4:30-6:30, treatment with athletic trainers if needed, Dinner somehow before 7pm when the cafeteria closes, and if you’re still awake by the grace of God at this point, do homework. When a student athlete returns home (I mean seriously, like 3% of athletes get drafted, and this is what we worked our whole lives for), they are like a plant that’s been taken from soil and dropped on cement. If you survived that’s amazing. you were able to push through the incredibly dense ground and find some footing and grow some roots.

Aside from individual efforts from parents (thats if we have both parents with ideal financial situations), coaches and whatever mentors get scattered into our lives, WE DON’T GET POURED INTO. Imagine graduating and having to transition into the work force and the hard work you’re most accustomed to is the type of blood sweat and tears you can only get from the gym, the gridiron, or the basketball court. Eventually we breakdown and deal with different types of depressions and we don’t get the support we need. We no longer feel useful.

We become warriors without a battle to fight. Imagine the mental anguish we endure sitting in an office or working a cash register trying to climb the corporate ladder. As our body deteriorates, our conditioning leaves us and our passions are stripped from us. We need a support system specifically designed for us! We hold the future of this country in our hands. The question is, will they be debilitated hands or able and willing hands?  We need guidance on how to lead a woman, raise children and guide a family. There has to be an end put to the “just figure it out as you go” method. Stop having “mens conferences” and inviting speakers that are 50-60 that don’t even attempt to connect with us. Have a mens conference that markets to us. We need speakers that aren’t past their prime as well as the retired warriors that are focused on our growth. I am challenging every church I step foot in, to create a program or ministry designed to encourage this age group and facilitate growth and healthy discussion.

We can continue to do our best and leave the rest up to God. But we need support. Stop holding out. Stop telling us to just get it together.

Church and school are no place for young black men; so let’s make it one.

Dealing with adversity

Dealing with adversity
I’m coming for our magic scripture in the Western Americanized world we live in…Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Let’s include verses 11 and 12 to give you more context. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Let me get you hip as to what it really means before you start tattooing this on your arms and quote it before every game you play..

Paul is saying this in his letter to the church of Philippians…
I’ve learned to be content in whatever circumstance I’m in. Im not running, I’ll be resilient– I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Is there a way to be fine on the inside, even when things are not ok on the outside? The secret is being “content”. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance. The secret is, i can do all this (being thrown into a dungeon, persecuted and beaten) through Him. Through Him i can maintain my commitment to contentment, through Christ who gives me strength. He wasn’t talking about winning.lol Paul’s up in heaven looking down shaking his head.lol Like “Hey guys! I wasn’t talking about winning your high school championship! or getting that full ride to a good college..or getting that job you prayed about! This wasn’t intended to be some magic scripture. Paul was in jail yall! And was fighting for his life! If you don’t grasp this verse for what its worth you miss the power behind it. I can thrive under all circumstances because Christ gives me His strength.

Andy Stanley put it this way..(write this down somewhere!) REMEMBER: I can’t, He can—He can, through me.

David: an Example of integrity

Hey, I like to give examples of a definition or a word I introduce. Its so much easier to relate to, and quite frankly that’s just how I think.

My example of Integrity is one of David’s most telling decisions he made over his whole life

Take a look at 1 Samuel 24:4-7
Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way.

Quick background: Saul had been trying to kill David chucking spears at him on a regular basis…David finally has the drop on Saul, they’re in a cave and Saul is dropping a deuce(lol) David can easily kill, but he chooses not to.

I learned from this–God would never cause you to do something evil to get a good result. If God was going to make David king, He was going to make David king. Not because he lied, cheated, stole something, killed someone.
First of all, if God is going to move, let Him do the moving. God doesn’t need you to act on His behalf. And in this instance Davids mind might have been
legitimately warped from Saul trying to kill him and SO OFTEN. But Davids integrity was sharp. If we ask ourselves these questions in these “in the dark” moments our decisions would become so much more clear! “Is this the story i want to tell?” “Is this the story I want told about me?” I killed the Lord’s anointed and became king in an evil way…No sir.

image

Integrity

Integrity

Integrity is such a big deal. The definition being–who you are in the dark. Who are you when no one is looking? This is so important in our lives as we grow and develop into men.

Just being transparent, what are you looking at when no one is around? Every decision I make I do my best to put it through a filter. I heard Pastor Andy Stanley ask a couple piercing questions: What story do you want to tell? And what story do you want told about you? Every decision you make becomes a part of the story of your life. We develop habits through daily decisions. When we overlook these minimal decisions over a period of time, we begin to deceive ourselves…Most importantly, we become desensitized.

I’ve had discussions with countless numbers of young men. I’ve asked: What led you to this point? The answers were actually quite simple. Who knew that watching porn on a regular basis could lead to a desire to have the real thing? Who knew that stealing time at work, or stealing in general, could lead to actually stealing tangible things? Look at your patterns, see where you were desensitized. Cut that thing at the root!

Remember: Small decisions lead up to big decisions..
In the words of Andy Stanley, “private decisions always have public ramifications.”
(write that down somewhere!)

Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my blog! I want to help you understand what to expect here.

I am an author and a speaker; but most of all, I am passionate.

Recently, I learned what it truly meant to be passionate about something. It doesn’t just mean something that you can do that you love, or something that you get energized about.

I learned that it is something that burns in the pit of your stomach; and at the drop of a dime you can be enraged at something or become equally as excited. It gives you this sickness when something is hopeless that HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU, or a joy that you can’t even begin toexpress. When someone asks “whats wrong?”. When something is blatantly written across your face and for you to explain why it bothers you, you have to make sure the other person gives you their undivided attention as you pass your inflamed heart to them to examine and experience.

It’s something that can ignite anger in you if the wrong cord is stroked. You know that feeling right?

I’m passionate about young black men. Even saying that I’m told it causes strife and division. No, it gives an appreciated clarity.

Without this clarity, when young black men aren’t treated how I think they should be…or become as successful as they should be….This passion….it can send me into rage; it can cause sleepless nights.. it can deplete my resources.

I don’t think Church, or school is designed for young men. Not to say that both aren’t crucially important, but not carried out effectively. I’ve seen a million women at churches, but very few young men. I see plenty of young black athletes, but who coaches them on what to do when their legs are no longer able to provide for them? Typically no one. There are very few men that come back and guide young black men through the pipeline of the sometimes impossible transitions they encounter and that’s why this fire was lit inside me by God Himself. Through mentoring the young men that give me freedom to coach them I’ve found myself; I’ve found my joy, I’ve also found anger, sadness and the deepest level of empathy imaginable.