Going to Israel and Palestine was very enlightening for me. It was great to tour old Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee. To walk the same path that Jesus once walked, is an honor and a privilege that most people who grew up like me will never get the opportunity to experience. While longing for a spiritual experience, what most impacted my time in Israel was the religious and ethnic strife that plagues this once Holy Land (there was a religious killing the day prior to my arrival in Jerusalem and a shooting in which ten were shot randomly not far from my hotel just after my departure back to the states) Even though a different conflict, I find it very similar to the problems plaguing the United States of America and more specifically my hometown Chicago, IL which some people refer to as Chiraq and deservingly so (lost a friend this year due to gun violence). From such great tension going on in both places, I realized that the problem is not money, land, resources, or a broken political system. The main culprit is the heart. Instead of promoting peace, love, and goodwill toward man, the people that are in leadership promote fear, anger, and isolation based on class, religion, and ethnicity. We are taught to hate our brother, and the elite use this manufactured hate to divide and conquer.
For me, the one thing I will do this year is become a servant leader. Leadership is one part influence and two parts responsibility: as people of influence, we must always take responsibility for our contribution to problems that arise around us. I recently experienced the senseless murder of an innocent friend. While I do not blame myself for her death, it made me realize that I am not doing everything in my power and God given purpose to help alleviate the problems plaguing my city, and I do take responsibility for that.
Leadership is all about your influence and when we as leaders truly decide to lead from the heart with a genuine desire to fulfill our purpose, we immediately jump on the path to being the type of influential leader we were called to be. Live your life committed to your purpose, a purpose more about others than about yourself
I am striving to be the exactly who God created me to be! God put me here for a reason, to be greater than I ever imagined, reasons that will transcend my time on this earth, reasons that all start with relationships. That is at the center of everything and God desires for those he created, for each one of us. My dreams and pursuits shifted this year from being self-centered to being others centered. That is the only way that I can create effective change in my city. The best leaders had a servant’s heart. They were patient, kind, slow to anger and kept no records of wrongs, they collaborated with their enemies and their people were better for it (King, Mandela, Ghandi). I now understand my purpose and I am determined to align all my pursuits in life with it. I am embracing my position as a mentor and public speaker because of the impact that I can have on people. I am reprioritizing my life and placing God at the center of everything I do. I am passionate about living the life I was created to live, not doing a certain thing but instead being who I am supposed to be, who God designed me to be. I am not pursuing my passion in life, I am passionate about pursuing his purpose for my life.
When I die I want my legacy to live on, I want for people to be better because I had a positive influence on their life. The people of Israel, Palestine, and America claim to be God fearing but yet we hate our brother, because the color of his skin, or what God he prays to. I see a lot of religion and tradition but no love or spirituality.
This is a call to Love!
I will no longer make judgements about my brother based on hate, anger, or fear. I will Love, and my leadership will flow from my heart!