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A Leader’s Response To Racism

What do you do as a Christian leader when the problem is so big that you don't do anything at all to stop it? God's not called us to stop it, He's called us to move so that He can do the work. It's the practical nature of that move that I want to talk about today.
Leadersresponsetoracism

What do you do as a Christian leader when the problem is so big that you don’t do anything at all to stop it?  As a white Christian male, that’s how I used to see racism.  Instead of helping and doing something, I’m paralyzed.  I appear apathetic.  Because I’m not a racist, I thought I couldn’t do anything about the problem.  The good news is that my God is bigger than these problems, and He only needs us to move toward love to fight it.  It’s the practical nature of that move that I want to talk about today.

Before you click away, let me ask you to read this because this is happening to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  This isn’t a situation in a third world country or at unaffectable levels of power.  This is happening to your neighbors and mine.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28 (NIV)

This post is about what actions we can take as Kingdom driven leaders.

Interestingly, as I sat down and thought of what action steps could someone actually take in light of racism, I noticed some similarities to the way we are to accept Christ.  These steps are really Holy Spirit prompts to remove sin or harmful things in your life.  Racism is evil and needs to be dealt with like any other sin.  While these steps will be review for any Christian reading, it’s the questions and heart behind it that I want you to pay special attention to.

Examine Your Heart

When it comes to following Jesus, it’s always about the heart.

When white people think of white privilege ,we think it’s a an imaginary thing that only families like the Kennedy’s and Bush’s experience.  We think of 90210, the OC, Duke lacrosse players, Martha Stewart and Lori Loughlin.  The average white person doesn’t think they benefit from white privilege.  We don’t have a moment in our life where we can point to a situation and say, “yep, I got this opportunity or got out of this trouble because of my skin color.”

When you examine your heart, you need to look and ask different questions.  By not examining yourself, you appear apathetic.  I’m guilty of this!  I grew up thinking, “I’m color blind,”  racism isn’t my problem.  When I married a minority, I thought “this proves that I’m not racist and it’s not my problem; it’s theirs.”  When I’m concerned about where my family lives and goes to church, I think, “See, I’m going through stuff just like you.”  The reality is the opposite.

It’s not their problem.  It’s ours.

White privilege isn’t always about getting things for being white.  It’s about having the privilege not to have to carry the same burden as minorities.  When a cop sees me, he sees an another white man.  At a job interview, I’m just an average white guy.  When I was arrested during my teen years, I was just a good kid that made a mistake.  In every situation, I’m given the benefit of the doubt.  I’m average and ordinary.  The difference is how my minority friends are viewed.  When someone sees them, they wonder, “is that one of ‘those’ kinds of minorities?”  The response isn’t average, it’s one shrouded in fear, anger or hatred.

Action Items

  • Have I dismissed someone’s feeling simply because I didn’t understand them?
  • Think of one person that you know that looks nothing like you.  Now ask yourself if you’ve truly considered their perspective?

Humble Ourselves

I tell my son that you spell leader with the word responsibility.  Once you’ve examined your heart, it’s time to acknowledge that on some level we’ve contributed to this.  Nothing we do will eliminate all evil in the world, but we’ve failed our brothers and sisters in Christ by saying nothing.

When I realized that the problem wasn’t situational, my eyes were opened.  Each time I saw an event, I saw it as a situation to evaluate.  For me, when Walter Scott gets gunned down from behind when running away from police, or when Miriam Carey gets killed for running through secret service blockades, it’s easy to dismiss that as unfortunate.   I didn’t see police taking actions that were outside what I could think of.

For a white person, the details matter.  We see news and think it’s unfortunate but move on.  We’re able to move on precisely because it didn’t happen to us.  In every image, right or wrong scenario, it’s a white man hurting a black man.  The white viewer asks themselves, “was the white man justified?”  What we as white people have to ask is, “what is this doing to my minority friends?”

The only way we will see what’s going on is by connecting with people who look different from us.  Not just hearing their horrific treatment, but hearing about how it makes them feel.  It’s not okay that entire people groups don’t want to go out for dusk jog because of some racist lunatics.

What I’m suggesting is that you own your apathy.  You own your ignorance.  I thought I knew because of my life situation, but I haven’t lived the life of a minority.  How could I possibly know?!  It’s time to humble ourselves and submit to the Lord that we know nothing.

Action Items

  • Ask God to reveal what areas have you been complicit in fostering racism.  What areas have you ignored for far too long?
  • That person that you thought of in the last section, make a plan to ask how they are doing.

Repent

When I hear the word repent, it’s usually associated with things we do.  I’d like to suggest that the problem with sin in the world and particularly racism is that we need to repent for things we allow.

If you’re white, then you’ve not had to carry the burden of racism and prejudice.   Yes, you might have experienced it on some level, but it’s not the “default setting.”  As an act of humility and surrender, repent for any actions but more specifically inactions during this time.  There are brothers and sisters all around us that are hurting and instead of comforting them, we’ve been rationalizing what’s happened.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12 NLT

When you’re repenting, remember that God has called us into a spiritual battle.  We are to take back territory from a defeated enemy.  I’ve found that humbling myself and repenting to be a super power as a spiritual warrior that breaks off any chains tied to you.

Take Action

When we accept adoption into Christ’s family, we acknowledge Him, we repent and turn to Christ.  The very next action is usually baptism.   For a situation like racism in America, you can acknowledge it, own it, repent for it but often left wondering, “what’s next.”

What Nathan Did

Instead of normal Monday meeting, my boss, Nathan Taitt, decided to have a conversation around race and consider what happened to George Floyd.  First he acknowledged that the success of Blueprint has been in large part because he’s white.  The relationships he has access to are a result of his skin color.  He didn’t apologize for being white but rather acknowledged that because of his skin color he’s afford community and relationships that would not be accessible to minorities.

Instead of just paying lip service, which was already gigantic leadership step in my mind, he took action.  Not only did Nathan participate in a protest and rally but he made the decision to give everyone June 19th off.   In this way, as a company we’ll commemorate the day that black people were supposed to have been equals in our country.

When you see racial crimes on the news, I’m not asking you to stop looking for conspiracies.  I’m asking you to start looking at the marginalized and prejudiced as your neighbors.  Start having conversations.  Hear it from someone darker than you and different from you that they feel scared or less valuable simply because of their skin color.  It doesn’t matter that you think they shouldn’t feel that way, they do.  It’s their reality.

What action can you take?  I don’t have all the answers.  I think it starts with listening.  It starts by opening our eyes to what’s happening.  Only then will we see the opportunities to do more.

I think as Christians, particularly white Christians, we need to be more brotherly.  We must step up and love our brothers and sisters and repent for ignoring their pain for too long.

What Others Are Doing

  • Donating – Many large corporations are donating money to help fight racial injustice.  If you’re looking for an organization that believes that the beginning of the end of racism starts with Christ, then look no further than OneRace.
  • Increasing Community Involvement – It’s time businesses become Kingdom driven!  Many secular businesses are stepping up their community involvement.  It’s time for Christian leaders to lead this charge in the right direction.
  • Giving June 19th Off as a holiday to remember the day that slavery ended in the US.

 

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