Have Character?

Have Character? February 29, 2012

Today’s post is courtesy of guest writer, Grace Biskie (Thanks Grace!)

It’s the last day of Black History month.   Is there anything exciting about ending a month where many of us aren’t even sure what exactly we are supposed to be doing during Black History Month?  Is the month set aside to merely think about what blacks have done?  I have a friend that posted important inventions by black inventors on his Facebook wall every day during Black History Month. I loved that he did that, yet it left me feeling hollow.  Isn’t our black history more than the sum of the scientific and artistic inventors?  It took me a while to figure out why this particular focus on inventors left me wanting.  And then it hit me: leadership.

Recently, I heard a preacher say “your skill can take you to great heights, but it’s your character that will keep you there.”  It was one of those great moments in a sermon where the point is so good you want to stand up, shout out, “tell the truth,” or throw your shoe at the preacher.  Thrown in love, of course.

I resonated deeply with the sentiment.  In the past year, I have faced the most challenging moral temptations of my brief 35 years of life.  Of course, I faced the temptation of the cookie jar as a kid, or the varied temptations of my tumultuous teen-aged years, but this was different.  At this stage of life, I have much more at stake.

I work as a Campus Minister in a regional position serving a few thousands college and University students each year.  What’s more, I am also married to a Campus Minister and we have two small children.  My personal sins are clearly no longer “personal.”  My temptations and struggles are no longer mine alone to bear.  (Not that they ever really were).  I can no longer hind behind the false idea that my sin affects no one but myself.  Indeed, my choices deeply affect everyone in my life, except for maybe a few neighbors living down the street.  Why?  Because I am a leader: by choice, by gifting, by God.  That’s that.  Ultimately, my decision to live in a godly way was in part, an understanding that there is an absolute necessity that I be a leader of character in order to fully live into who God is creating me to be and ultimately for Him to use me to fulfill the purposes He set aside for me.  Daily, I try to choose this path.  Hourly.  Minutely.

As we say goodbye to Black History Month for 2012, the people I want to remember most are those leaders whose skill and character led them to bring significant change for the African-American community.  We can talk about the inventors, the artists, the writers, the brave, but the thread laced between each and every one is that they were leaders.  They were leaders who made very specific godly choices throughout their lives to fully live into who God was creating them to be.  They were used by God to fulfill the purposes He had set about to bring freedom and hope.

Not only are we leaders, African-Americans are a strong people.  Our culture was born from people who adapted under extreme and debilitating suffering.  For more than 200 years African-Americans have been strong and worthy leaders amidst crisis and hopelessness in one of the most heinous, violent social structures set up in all of human history.   Leadership is a spiritual gift of our community!  We faced the most powerful nation in the world and –in a nutshell- won.  Slavery has been overturned.  Nothing is perfect, but we enjoy our basic freedoms under the leadership of an African-American President.

Visionary, courageous leaders –both black and white— not only used their skill but their character to lead the charge in our collective success.  Many of these people are unnamed.  Many will never receive credit or public accolades like Dr. King but they were a significant part nonetheless.

As we end Black History Month my challenge to you is to honor the lives and deaths of the many African-American leaders by being courageous leaders of strong character for the sake of others.  Not only will we emulate long-forgotten, unnamed African-Americans in history, we will be walking instep with the very leadership style of Jesus: bold, visionary, courageous and morally pure.  It’s just one way we can honor black history throughout our lifetime, not just during black history month.

Written by: Grace Biskie

Grace serves with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as the Regional Coordinator of Black Campus Ministries in the Midwest.  She loves writing, photography, fashion and blogging at She is working on her first book, a memoir of surviving abuse and poverty while growing up in Detroit.  She is married to Dave, and raising two sons, Ransom, 6 & Rhys, 2.  You can follow her adventures in building God’s Kingdom on twitter: @Minister_Mama

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