Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Living By the 3-P's

I live by what I call the 3-P’s. In dealing with group dynamics, never, and I mean never, allow for decisions to be made out of personal differences or political divides. I try to remain focused on policy-the P that matters

I learned that lesson at the age of 23 while serving as the pastor of the Sugar Grove Baptist Church in Columbia, Missouri. I arrived at the church one day for what I thought was a normal business meeting. Instead, I was cornered into a fight between the old establishment and those who had united with the church since my arrival. The bad news is those on my side weren’t invited to the party.

I sat and listened as they chastised me for moving the church away from what it had always been-a small family church hidden from view by the long gravel road and trees at the end of Rolling Hills Road. I was too young to understand what was happening to me. It was personal and political. What happened had nothing to do with my leadership style of ability to draw people to the church. I was condemned for being successful while undermining the comforts of those who had made the church their home.

Years of maturity have taught me that most battles are about something deeply personal or political. It’s sad that we can expect the same within congregations . You would think that all of that teaching about being humble and becoming a servant would sway the way church folks handle their business. Sorry to say that the games of the church make the wars between Republicans and Democrats look like a tussle between toddlers over who gets to throw the ball next.

It’s my devotion to the rule of the 3-P’s that compels me to stand up in defense for one of my brothers in ministry. Michael Page is the Pastor of First United Antioch Baptist Church. He is also the Chair of the Durham Board of County Commissioners. In a recent blog I declared the severe dysfunction in the way board members relate to one another. I maintained that their inability to move past two of my P’s-personal and political-is seriously hindering their ability to make decisions best for the citizens of Durham County.

One can forgive the political games played by politicians. I can even turn the other cheek when a few stones are thrown at personal integrity. What gets under my overly thick skin is when a person challenges the credibility of one of my colleagues in ministry. Them are fighting words, as the old folks say.
The first attack came from one of Joe Bowser’s dedicated supporters. Lois Murphy has attacked me on numerous occasions after my questioning of Bowser’s competency as a member of the Board of County Commissioners. She has blasted my work in ministry. She is an expert at making things personal. I laugh it off and walk away knowing she doesn’t know me or my work well enough to walk down that street. Negro please!

Like I said, I have tough skin, but back off Rev. Page. Murphy crossed that line drawn in the sand when she questioned Page as a Christian and a minister. She took her stabs on the blog “Bull City Rising” in a blog that quotes commentary from the REV-elution. Her statement appears in the comment section of the blog “Civitas investigation alleges conflict of interest, open meeting law violation in DSS change”

“Unfortunately, Commissioner Page has reduced himself to spreading and endorsing rumors although he claims he is a Christian,” she wrote. “He of all people should know the power of the “tongue” and how the word of God tells us to chasten it. In addition, he should also know that God wants us to spread brotherly love not rumors and hate.”

Murphy then does the very thing the good books talks about. She looks at the spec in Page’s eye while failing to consider the boulder in her own. “It saddens me that Commissioner Page and Kenney are not interested in the truth although both claim to be Christians. Thus, it is not an anomaly why the world is in such turmoil. I am sure neither of them consulted with God regarding their input in matter. I am hopeful in my lifetime blacks will stop being used to destroy blacks.” What is this, two preachers for the price of one day?

It gets worse when she digs up a rumor certain to put her in danger of going to the Hell she talks so much about. “Certainly, there are rumors regarding both Commissioner Page’s and Kenney’s preferences, but they are just rumors. Aren’t they?”

I did a double take after reading those words. No she didn’t! She pulled a move from Hip-Hop by accusing me and my brother in ministry of being gay. It’s an old tactic used in the African American community to destroy the reputation of a person when the accuser lacks the words or intellect to make a statement that requires words bigger than three syllables. It’s the type of play pen attack that separate those with no argument from those who do the best they can to rise above those two P’s-personal and political.

They say birds of a feather flock together. Murphy and Bowser are two hawks searching for anyone who refuses to play by their rules. I could excuse Murphy’s comments as passionate pleas hoped to defend the integrity of her bird mate, but it is difficult for me to overlook Bowser’s attack of my brother in ministry and Commission Chair.

“He’s a flat-faced liar, and he’s a disgrace to the clergy for saying that,” Bowser told the Herald-Sun after being told comments were made by Page that suggested he had meddled in hiring decision at DSS. My problem isn’t with Bowser defending his integrity. My issue is with anyone who takes a stab at a person’s spirituality and work in ministry.

There’s too much of that going around in Durham. From a homophobic candidate for mayor quick to label a person gay for standing behind gays and lesbians, to those in public office bent on lashing out at those who they simply can’t get along with. The blogsphere is filled with personal attacks that have nothing to do with the P that matters. People are being called gay, liars, cheaters and questioned for their take on Christianity. The only time any of that becomes a matter of public concern is when it gets in the way of that one P that matters-policy.

The upcoming election will force voters to consider more than the important P. Sadly; citizens should consider how personal attacks and politics gone wild can get in the way of another important P- productivity.

In other words, grow up or get out of the way.

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