The Chair and the Desk, 10/8/15

From the chair:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

-Philippians 2:3

This is one of those verses I’ve heard my whole life, but need to hear today. “Do nothing from selfish ambition.” I’m in a field that encourages selfish ambition, but really, what field doesn’t? Scholarship doesn’t have to be a life of selfish ambition. It doesn’t have to come down to being published, getting a comfortable job, building a nice paragraph about oneself to have read at conferences and printed on the back of books. Thinking, reading, and writing can be acts of love for the Church, if we set out to change our hearts through prayer and the Word.


From the desk:

“Liberation preaching should and does ‘tell it like it is.’ This means that the harsh reality of truth must be told as we seek to deal with the condition of black men in our communities. It is not an easy task, but it is a task that must be done if we are to reclaim our youth and rebuild our communities.”

-James Harris, Preaching Liberation, p.89

Harris says this in a chapter about preaching for African American men as an African American man–even though I come from a different background, I hear in it a crucial call for all preachers: Let’s be clear. Let’s be clear. It’s good to know and to say that we are often wrong. It’s good to listen to others and to be open to new ideas. Yet, unclear thinking, unclear speaking, unclear preaching doesn’t really help anyone. If we take the risk of “telling it like it is,” we may sometimes be corrected, but it will drive us to understand the truth as best as we can, and when we “tell it like it is,” we can actually converse and learn together.


“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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