Friday, March 12, 2010

Role Models

The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers – excerpt from Deuteronomy 17: 14-20

I grew up in the 80s and 90s during the golden age of Hip-Hop and basketball. As a boy I remember there being this constant discussion of role models. Either folks were complaining about a lack of role models or they were trying to impose this label on folks who had no desire to wear it.

Charles Barkley (a huge basketball star at the time) famously said that he was not a role model and folks wanted to act like he had betrayed all of the children across the globe.


I was really fortunate in this respect. I didn’t have to look outside my house to find great role models. My parents and my older sister were heroes to me.

But I too also looked at basketball players and rappers as examples. One such person that I looked up to a lot was Chuck D from Public Enemy.

My first memories of Chuck D were when my Stepfather started taking me to school. I was about nine years old at the time and Public Enemy released the album “Fear of a Black Planet”.

I was amazed.

When we weren’t listening to Luther Vandross (a whole different post) this album was on constant loop. The sounds were amazing and his cadence was captivating but most of all his words were revolutionary to me.

He was talking about black pride, self respect, taking care of the community, respecting women… It was great; but, there was so much that I didn’t understand. And that’s where my Stepdad came in. We talked at length about Chuck’s words and everything else in the world. He challenged me to come up with my own answers.

Through the marriage of pop culture and nurturing parents I learned how to critically think. I learned to become the man that I am today.

The passage above is interesting because it identifies a pattern in all great leaders.

The King (or Queen for that matter) is a person who lives modestly, doesn’t accumulate much more than what they need, and stays connected to others by humbly grounding themselves in the life affirming principles that gained them their success.

My heroes also dedicate themselves and their resources to the world. They love others by giving.

I am thankful that I was able to find role models and leaders in my life. As a child they were in my family and in the culture. Now they include my friends and other great individuals who use what they have to make the world a better place.

There are kings and queens all around us. Some of them are our family, friends and neighbors; others are titans of business and culture.

It is up to us to recognize the ones who’s hearts have not been led astray…

Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 17-19: Mark 13: 1-20

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A Convo With God by Clarence Mitchell III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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