2016 End of Year Reflection

I can honestly say that 2016 has been one of the most productive years of my adult life. It was the first full year in my 40’s and it was full of rewarding and humbling moments. I began the year with high expectations and I end the year with confidence knowing that I accomplished much of what I desired. One of the biggest things from 2016 that I have experienced was a great sense of loss. This came from the untimely death of my beloved nephew Kevin Neal, Jr. and the deaths of so many people who had a grand part in fashioning my youth and young adult development.

Like many persons at the end of the year, I take a moment and reflect on the totality of the year. There is a wonderful exercise that I have been using to accomplish this. I’ll share this year’s with you. How wonderful it is to know I’ve come this far by faith and God’s grace and have yet a ways to go. I’m grateful for all the people, places, and experiences I been graced to have in 2016. As John Newton writes in the third stanza of Amazing Grace ” Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come. T’was grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me on.”

10 Highlights (Accomplishments, Best Memories)

  1. Passing Doctoral Qualifying Exam and becoming an official doctoral candidate
  2. Serving as a presenter at the Black Non-Believers 5th Anniversary Celebration
  3. Serving as a Delegate to the 50th Quadrennial General Conference and 200th Anniversary of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
  4. Being appointed the new Dean of Ministerial Instruction for the South Mississippi Conference Board of Examiners
  5. Becoming a Spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and Survivors Engagement Lead for Everytown for Gun Safety
  6. Lobbying with Clergy for Prison Reform
  7. Lobbying at US Capital with National Council of Churches
  8. Attending Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE)National Pastor’s Policy Summit
  9. Celebrating five years as pastor of New Bethel AME Church of Jackson
  10. Joining a local community choir

 Disappointments (Failures, Missed Opportunities)

  1. Not spending enough time with my nephew Kevin before he passed
  2. Not maintaining regular spiritual discipline
  3. Not going to the gym consistently
  4. Not promoting book, ministry and radio show
  5. Indecisive about romantic relationships
  6. Not making time for self
  7. Not traveling for pleasure
  8. Not managing finances well
  9. Not reading more
  10. Not aggressively ministering to youth and young adults at the church

3 Game Changers (Unexpected Events that shifted my priorities)

  1. Being featured in the upcoming Exodus documentary
  2. Getting back in school and passing my DQE, attending Residency II in Atlanta, and beginning the journey of writing my dissertation
  3. Church Promotion and exposure in local and regional media outlets

3 Things I focused on (What I put the most of my time into

  1. Gun Safety and Advocacy
  2. Criminal Justice reform
  3. Returning to doctoral program and completing my dissertation

3 Things I forgot (What I didn’t get around to)

  1. Self Care-poor diabetes management and little rest and didn’t journal consistently
  2. Complete writings I started
  3. Didn’t engage my creative side-didn’t compose music or write enough poem
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Personal Mission Statement

As a pastor and an individual, I am all about self and community empowerment. In the more recent history, I’ve been learning that just knowing scripture isn’t enough to accomplish purpose. I know for some that is a terrible thing to say. Life is full of more than just what we read in the scriptures, but all of those are enhanced and grounded through and by scripture.  I learned one thing from studying and analyzing successful businesses: They have a mission statement that everyone knows and can carry out. This means that everyone in the business from the janitors to the CEO knows that the success or failure of that company rests in how internalized the mission statement is.

When I started my doctoral coursework earlier this year, one of the first things we had to do was write a personal and professional mission statement. Some think this should be a breeze for a pastor,  but I found it a difficult task. I spent time in prayer, meditation and reflection and an acronymn coined by my college BSU director came to my mind..my mission statement is to be R.E.A.L.

My mission is to be Relational, Encouraging, Authentic, and Loving. That sums up the entirety of my ministry and my professional career desires. I realize that is what every individual desires from themselves, God, and others. I’m so sold on this that I’ve even included it in the vision statement for the church I pastor.

Being REAL is a lofty mission goal with the added expense of death to selfish service and disenchanted destinies. If we earnestly desire our father’s goodness to mercifully accept us as we are, then we will do our best to present ourselves REAL to him and others we encounter throughout our life’s journey.

Seminary/Grad School of the Week

Biola University/Talbot School of Theology

13800 Biola Ave.La Mirada, CA9063

1-562-903-6000     www.talbot.edu

Dr. Dennis R Dirks, Dean

Mission

The Mission of Talbot School of Theology is the development of disciples of Jesus Christ whose thought processes, character and lifestyles reflect those of our Lord, and who are dedicated to disciple making throughout the world

Talbot School of Theology is a theologically conservative, evangelical seminary in Southern California near Los Angeles. With almost a 60-year heritage of biblical fidelity, the seminary couples solid evangelical scholarship with intentional character development to prepare students for a lifetime of relevant, effective ministry. The seminary’s six master’s degree programs and three doctoral degree programs are led by a faculty of nationally renowned, widely-published and actively engaged ministry leaders.

Biola University was founded on February 25, 1908 by the Rev. T.C. Horton and Lyman Stewart, founder of Union Oil Company, the non-denominational school offered degrees in Bible training, hosted the nation’s largest Christian magazine, The King’s Business, and aired the first Christian radio program west of the Mississippi, which later became known as The Biola Hour. Enrollment grew rapidly under the direction of Biola’s first dean, R.A. Torrey (1911–1925). Talbot was founded in 1952 by Dr. Louis T Talbot during his last year as President of Biola University as a three year accredited seminary to combat liberal Christian teachings that had plagued the church.

Talbot School of Theology is located in La Mirada, California, a Los Angeles County suburb ranked by Money Magazine as one of America’s 100 best places to live. Situated on the border of Los Angeles and Orange counties, the seminary is a matter of minutes from all that Southern California has to offer — including beaches, entertainment venues, cultural attractions and a wealth of diverse ministry opportunities.

Student Profile
1,235 total students

57% Caucasian
25% Asian
4% Hispanic
4% African-American
10% International

71% Male
29% Female

Faculty: 96% of full-time have doctorates

Campus: 96 acres, located in Southern California, approximately 20 miles from Los Angeles

Library Holding: Over 300,000 titles

Seminary/Grad School of the Week

Moody Bible Institute-Celebrating 125 years of Excellence in Christian Education

Moody Bible Institute-Dr. Paul Nyquist, President
820 N. LaSalle Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60610

www.moody.edu (800) DL-Moody (800-356-6639)

 

Since its founding in 1886 as the Chicago Evangelization Society, by Christian Evangelist and Revivalist Dwight Lyman Moody and Emma Dryer, Moody Bible Institute’s Bible-based education combined with real ministry experience has prepared thousands of students for Christian service. Moody’s education legacy is rich with graduates boldly reaching the world for Christ, paving the way for future generations to do the same.

Moody offers certificates, undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Biblical Studies, Christian Education, and Ministry. The main campus is located in Chicago, IL but it has sattelite campuses in Spokane, WA and Plymouth, MI. Students can also complete courses online or through modular sessions in designated areas.

MBI has been vigilant to maintain integrity within our walls and guard against potential outside threats. The school has a legacy of being held accountable to the standards of the Word by the people of the church. Academically, Moody is accredited by highly trusted agencies. Professionally, every branch of ministry is affiliated with the most revered associations in their respective industries.