The Rev. James A. Carter, Jr., of the Lincoln Park Community Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, conducted the funeral for a member of my neighbors’ family this afternoon. It was one of the nicest services I’ve ever attended. During the memorial, Carter referred to a verse in chapter 12 of the Book of Luke. The King James Version of the Bible describes Jesus advising his followers, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
According to Luke, Jesus followed the admonition with this parable:
The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Carter emphasized that Jesus did not refer to the rich man as evil but chose instead to call him a fool. For illustrating the enormous significance of a single word, I commend the talented orator who leads the Lincoln Park Community Baptist congregation. Authenticity resonates.
Leadership is a capability few possess, and it is nearly always accompanied by an understanding of the ability of effective communication to inspire change, trust, and loyalty. In September 2001, George W. Bush’s speechwriters gave Americans a gift of inspiration that included these words: “The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.”
Words are powerful instructions. Our lives are guided by the messages we believe.