Wednesday, November 24, 2010

#2: "In Everything Give Thanks!” - Lesson Learned /Heart-ache Lessened

I somehow remember my mother saying that the one thing she can’t stand is an ungrateful person.  Yes, she would mainly say this when me or my sister seemed to be ungrateful for something she did.  But that has sucks with me and has been a lesson that I have learned.  I wish I was better at it. I try to send thank you cards to people who have given me something or have done something meaningful for me, but too often I do forget to truly say thank you.

Thank you goes a long way! Another thing my mother says.  I think about the many doors that have opened simply because I was taught by my mother to treat all those in low and high places with dignity and respect. Yeah sometimes I fall short at that, but I try my best and well I know I need to try harder to express my gratitude. So to each of you I say Thank You!
God uses people, ordinary people to be extraordinary blessings. I am grateful that God placed many of those people in my life at some point. If I began to name names I would leave off quite a few. But if I had to list them I could not forget… my mother and my sisters, adopted grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. There were elementary school teachers, High school administrators, NAACP advisors, mentors,  College Presidents/administrators, scholarship program leaders, professors, church members, pastors, custodians, security officers,  lunch ladies, office assistants, supervisors, coworkers, classmates, seminary friends,  adopted aunts and uncles and big brothers! Within these broad scopes lie many who have been ordinary people, who have been extraordinary blessings in my life at one time or another. At this present time, I must name one person. Shout out to my friend and co-worker, Arrion, who has made living in Iowa a lot easier & fun, and well I glad she is here.  Yall don’t know until you tried living as a black man in a white town with a whole bunch of white folks.  I’ll leave it at that!
Yes, I have learned the lesson of gratitude. So I say thank you to all those who have in some way touched my life and made me the person I am today. I even say thanks to those who believed I would not succeed. I am grateful to you, not simply because I can say “look at me now”, but because at some point I was able to utilize your pessimism to propel me forward as I said, “I know I can, I know I can, I know I Can!”
Finally, I give thanks to God because I realize that the blessings of my life are way beyond my human ability.  The blessings of friends, whom I may not speak to in months but relationships carry on as if we just talked yesterday.  The blessing of my family (immediate and extended) who love me unconditionally.  The blessing of a job with great benefits. The blessing of a SUV that I drive and the ability to make the monthly payments and the insurance premium. I am blessed to have two sisters, MaSherra and MaShica, and a mom, Sherry, and I can’t forget about my nephew and brother-in-law, Jedidiah and Dontae, whom all I adore and give thanks to Almighty God for making me part of such a talented beautiful family.
As the song writer says:

"I could go, on and on and on, about Your works,
Because I'm grateful, grateful, so grateful just to praise You Lord, 
Flowing from my heart, Are the issues of my heart,  Is Gratefulness!”



 

Lesson Learned, Heart-ache Lessened,
RevMAH

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

#1:“Watch What You Say in Emails” - Lesson Learned /Heart-ache Lessened



Yes this is a practical lesson learned. Where to begin?
One of my first awakening moments about how emails can damage your reputation, destroy friendships and cause division, was during my senior year of college.  All I can remember is that one of the SGA cabinet members, Hima, was not meeting my approval because of her lack of doing some things that I saw as important.  I am vague about this because I honestly can’t remember what she did that made me so mad.  I worked as the Lead Cultural Peer for my undergrad’s Cultural and Diversity Center and Interfaith Center.  She was something like the Director of Cultural and Diversity Initiatives for the Student Government Association (appointed by the then SGA President, Jordan).  All I can remember is that she dropped the ball on several projects that we were to be working on.   Which brings me to the email. I actually sent this special email to the SGA President, Jordan, but cced Hima, Patty (my then director of Student Life and mentor), and Darci (our graduate assistant and my co-supervisor).  I found the email and well here it goes…
4/8/06
“ Jordan, I am telling you now, if you chose another person like Hima to
be Director of diversity affairs I will come back and protest your
adminstration the entire year, better yet i'll do it from Atlanta!! No
more BS-ing. Hima you know why I said this and Jordan, you know as
well. I think the only one that may be out of the loop is Patty, and
knowing Patty this won't be for long.

-Mike
Graduating yet Pissed Off Student Leader”

Wow. I shocked myself!  Darci, emails me “Breath Michael, Breath” and Patty emails us all wanting to  know what was going on and she needed to be brought into the loop. Yeah you got it, I did not even give her any back story, I just included her in my rant. Let’s say, as I read back over this email today, I am stunned by my rudeness, disrespect, and tacklessness. But of course back then, I was justified, I was right, and my response was warranted.
 After sending the email, of course, I had to and wanted to meet with Patty.  I remember sitting in her office and she reminding me that if I am to be a great leader, then I must learn how to mind my temper and frustrations. She reminded me the ways to get done what you would like by expressing oneself in a positive and effective manner.  She held me to a higher standard because I was a leader, I was a Christian, and most importantly she knew me as an advocate for change. Patty knew that many trials would come my way, battles would be won and lost, but if I was not able to keep my cool in the midst of it all, then I would be an ineffective leader. Well, maybe she did not know all of that, but that’s what I garnered from her talk and that is what she taught me.
With all the new technology (cut and paste, and the ability to save webpage’s etc.), I have been more cautious about what I type in emails and say online.  This is still remains a constant battle because when I am upset or don’t agree with something or someone, I want them and other to hear and feel my anger within my emails. I want to be sure my viewpoint is clearly stated and understood. But I am learning that more direct communication (face to face) is always the best. And I have learned the importance of writing the email and leaving it overnight until I have a cool head, then coming back editing it or even sending it to a friend to read over before I actually send it. Folks may forget what you say when you speak, but when it is written, it is never forgotten (well, may be deleted, but it surely can come back to haunt you). Even today, because I was able to find this email, shows how immortal emails are.
I'm constantly reminded as I have worked full-time in professional setting of watching emails I send out. Reminded to reread emails before sending them. If I am upset, write the email and step away and then come back later.  I have even learned to say simply nothing or to say let’s talk more in person so that our words are not construed on either end.
Just as Patty had the talk with me, I found myself having a similar talk with one of my student employees whose email tone to me was not professional and seeming condescending. Just as I had someone to teach me that lesson, I too give the same to my students, and let’s be honest, I still work on this because when I get mad, oh how my fingers seek action through email writing!
 Hima and Jordan, if you ever read this, know that I am sorry. In no way should I have expressed myself in such a manner.  I shut down any hopes of dialogue and open communication that could have made for a productive end of the year and a stronger transition for those new leaders who were joining our community.  How hurtful and disrespectful was this and for that I do sincerely apologize. 

Lesson Learned, Heart-ache Lessened, 
RevMAH

Monday, November 22, 2010

Intro To “Lessons Learned Today, Will Lessen the Heart-Aches of Tomorrow.”

After returning from a 7am breakfast that I foolishly setup with some of my NAACP student leaders, I began to think deeply about my life and how grateful I am. Yes it is Thanksgiving season and Gratefulness is in the air! I started to think about all the lessons I have learned over the years, and what God has taught me through others and through challenging situations. I learned lessons that have set me up for a future of fewer issues. 

So in the midst of my contemplation, this thought came to me… “Lessons learned today will lessen the heart-aches of tomorrow.” Ohh yes indeed!!! I have learned quite of few things over the years and I try my best to incorporate what I learned into my life so that I don’t be one who learned the lesson but did not grow in the midst.

Well I thought that as we move through this season of thanksgiving and preparation for the birth of Christ, why not share those lessons I have learned over the past years. So I decided to go back to blogging for ten days, to give ten of my “lessons learned today [that] will lessen the heart-aches of tomorrow.” I will start officially blogging about them tomorrow in no particular order. But let me say this first…

These lessons I have learned have been taught to me by many people and many situations. Some will be able to name the exact person and circumstances and others have formed through life challenges and decisions. I decided to say “lessen the heart-aches” because, the truth of the matter is, life will always bring heartaches. Things will never go completely as planned. One has to learn how to roll with the punches and keep it moving, while learning from the past and seeking for the future to be a little brighter.

One of my colleagues has been encouraging students to manage stress by seeking to be resilient. She understands that stress will always exist, but the question that must be answered is how are you going to handle it, will you let it get the best of you, or will you look deep inside of yourself, and find the strength within to overcome and work through your situation.

Finally, before I say goodnight… I am reminded that these lessons I will share are ones that I am continuing to learn from and that the problem comes when I think I have learned it all and that I know it all. (Yes this will be one of the lessons learned – “I Don’t Know It All”). I must challenge myself and I ask you my friends, to challenge me, to continue to learn, about others and myself.

Once I looked deep inside of me, it took a lot for me to determine that my life’s current situation would not dictate my future! And oh how freeing that was and is! 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 
RevMAH

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lenten Series #39: Spending Day in Des Moines

I have been technically on vacation all week. I thought about traveling,
even flying back to Baltimore but instead I decided to stay in Grinnell.
After doing all that traveling to ATL with my students, I did not want
to drive anywhere else. The weather in Grinnell has been great and I
have enjoyed walking around and chillaxin. I was invited to dinner on
Sunday at one of my coworkers home in DesMoines, IA (the state capital
and closet big city to GrinnelI). So decided to treat myself this
weekend and got me a hotel room for the night in DesMoines. I hope to
get to a local church for service in the morning and then dinner in the
afternoon.

On Saturday I stopped into the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological,
and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) ACT-SO competition for high school
students. This competition is held by local branches of the NAACP and
the local winners go to the national ACT-SO competition at the NAACP
National convention (which is held this year in Kansas City). It was
great seeing the artworks, sculptures, science projects, and hearing the
musical renditions offered by the students. I hope that I will be able
to be supportive of this effort by being a mentor and/or judge in the
future.

That's all I have tonight. Hey, don't blame me, I am on vacation!! Lol

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,
RevMAH

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lenten Series #38: Evrybody and Their Titles! Ugghh!

So there has been a topic that I have wanted to address, no, that I must address before this Lenten season is over. There is a phenomenon that has continued since last century that centers on everybody wanting titles. From being called Doctor to Bishop to Apostle to Praiseologist (YES, you read right, they 'exist'!!). People want to be recognized!

sidebar... Some people also change when they get a title in front of their names. For example, there are some who have earned doctorates and let it get to their heads, But to their defense there are many who have non-academically earned doctorates who let those titles get to their head as well (another area where you don’t want me to get started on).

It amazes me how many bishops and apostles we have in my hometown of Baltimore, (just found out that another Baptist minister has been named bishop, don’t get me started on this because I don’t know how one can be Baptist and call yourself bishop!). Furthermore, I get frustrated when we look at all these titles, yet folks are still hungry. We want to wear the glittery robes and sit in the places of prestige, yet people are losing their homes and families are being destroyed. And we have the nerve to laugh at the minister who is out on the streets with the people, calling out the injustices and having prayer vigils because he does not fit the norm of what we consider proper ministry.


Let me make this thing personal… I have grown up being in the center of attention when it comes to recognition. I was senior class president of my high school class. I was actively involved in my community, and everywhere I looked there were recognition of my achievement. I had to learn about humility early on. I don’t know if I shared this story before. There was a time when I was very active as youth leader of our teenage choir at church, the Determined Singers. I was the one initiating plans for events, conferences, responsible for attendance and keeping directory information. I took on a lot of responsibilities. One day my mom (who was also the director of the choir) and I were driving along getting ready for rehearsal. She and I got into a heated argument, and I must have said something along the line of, “I ain’t going to rehearsal and you can do the stuff yourself”. She then responded “God can use someone else to do what he has you doing”. I was still mad, can’t remember if I went to rehearsal or not, but I know that statement has been with me ever since. Why did I share this story? Because I recognize that desire for recognition and have found myself many times seeking such. Ever since then God has been working on my humility. I noticed that one of my fist blogs during this Lenten season centered around with humility. One thing I am learning as I journey through life is that humility is what God seeks after.

So, you don’t have to call me Reverend, just call me Michael/Mike! I know my credentials and don’t need to be reminded of them. Now, I do recognize and respect the tradition from which I have come. I honor my church for given me such at title, and pastors, mentors, and ancestors, who have all paved the way for me to be able to have such. And, I am reminded that with such title comes a stronger and deeper responsibility. So I am proud to be Rev. Michael A. Hunt. I am aware that titles open doors. I am grateful that when I say I am Reverend, people listen. But I also understand when I say I am Reverend, people open up and talk. I have seen to many with the Reverend/Bishop/Dr/Apostles still wanting people to listen but never stop talking in order to listen themselves to the people. With so many titles it can be hard to “regard others as better than yourselves.” In Philippians, Paul reminds us…
"If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited, but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross." Philippians 2:1-8 NRSV

If you are reading this and you are in a position of authority In any facet of life, I urge you to aim for the cross! I must admit, there were many times when I wanted my name to be called; I wanted my work to be recognized. But now I am at a place in my life where I just want to live for God and serve my fellow sisters and brothers. These titles will fade away. People will forget about you. When I get to the gates of heaven, I know my degrees will not matter, nor will the titles I hold. When Jesus asks me, “when did you serve me by serving and loving your neighbor?”

Aiming For The Cross,
-Mike (RevMAH)

P.S. RevMAH is a play on the initials of my name. When I was working at a summer camp in Virginia (MeadowkirkCamp) my coworkers nicknamed me RevMAH (pronounced “RevMawh”). It has grown on me and they continue to call me this to this day. I thought this particular blog entry would be the best time to acknowledge this.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lenten Series #37: The Ol' Rugged Cross

It was at the top of the hour, as I walked through town earlier today. The Methodist church bells begun to ring! I noticed that the bells were echoing the melody of “The Ol’ Rugged Cross” . You know how you hear a familiar tune and take a minute for you to recognize it, but when you do you begin to sing it and your souls gets happy.  All evening I could not stop singing “so I cherish the ol’ rugged cross!”   The chorus got so deep in my spirit that I begun to wonder, what is it about the cross that I cherish so much? 

Today we celebrated or observed Maundy Thursday, a time when Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples, washed their feet, and acknowledged the one who would betray him.  Tomorrow many will gather around the world, acknowledging his death upon the cross, hearing his cries through the agony and the pain.  Why do i cherish that cross? It is a reminder of what Christ did on our behalf. Even when we did not know or recognize our sin, our separation from God Almighty, Christ closed the gap and gave himself for our sake.  I can still hear Jesus saying, “take up your cross and follow me”, but just as the disciples will do tonight, we turn back and say you are on your own!

Oh how I want so much to be like Jesus, but that cup is bitter and that cross is heavy, and well I don’t know if I can.  Yet the songwriter challenges me to cling to the cross? When I think of the word cling, I picture a child holding on to his mom for dear life!  Cling is a tight-hold.  Webster even goes further and say “to have a strong emotional attachment or dependence”.  We normally hold on tight to something that is good/beneficial. Could the cross actually be an emblem of suffering and shame and at the same time, a sign of peace and But I believe The Resurrection is the sign of peace and hope, while the cross is the shame and suffering.  So why would I want to cling to shame and pain? Then I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Church of Corinth. He said,
 “Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

We are able to carry our cross, the cross that we bear, the insults, hardships, persecutions etc.,  because of the power of Christ (that is seen through his suffering, not just his resurrection). Just as Christ was able to do the same because the power of the Almighty, was dwelling in him. Yet because of his humanity, he felt everything! Every whip, every insult, every nail, every betrayal. He felt it all!

I wonder how many sermons will go forth tomorrow that will actually leave us at the cross. As one of my professors would say, "stay at the cross, deal with the cross!" So often we want to go to resurrection (don’t get me wrong, I am glad He Lives), but it something about staying there with Jesus through the pain and difficulties of the cross.You can shout at the cross, but deal with the anguish of Christ going to the cross on behalf of a world that turned their backs on him. It is Good Friday for us, but surely it wasn't for Christ!

 What is there to cherish?  There must be a deep appreciation for what Christ did at dark Calvary. Maybe tomorrow could be a time of recognizing our sinful nature, which includes the deep institutionalized sins of the Church.  I know this may not get the crowd jumping up and down, but maybe it will move us to a place of true reconciliation with one another and those the church has ostracized, so that we all may partake in the Glorious resurrection as a reconciled people, to God and to one to another.  Is that not the burden the cross places on us?  Is that not why we cherish the ol’ rugged cross? Is that not why we anticipate crown of glory?  Yes it is full of suffering and shame, however; it’s the cross we bear for the sake of Christ and each other.


The Old Rugged Cross (Words & Music: George Ben­nard)
v1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
Refrain
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
v2. O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
  -
 (check this video out... )






Cherish and Cling to the Cross,
RevMAH

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lenten Series #36: Spring Break Service Trip - Top/Iron Chef


One blessing of the trip was many of our meals were hosted by groups or individuals from the Atlanta area.  So usually during these trips, the group would have to cook dinner each night.  But the way it worked this year we only had to cook for two of the eight nights.  So I thought about it… And then it hit me let us do a “top chef/iron chef” competition. We would break up into two groups and they would have to decide their menu (3courses) and shop on a budget, and prepare the meal within 1.5hrs.  Since we had two days, one group would cook on Monday and the other on Tuesday. The group not cooking had free time during the preparation, however; they would be responsible for the games/icebreaker activity for after dinner. The students were ecstatic about this idea and could not wait to get it going.

I talked it over with Elizabeth (whose church we were using) and she suggested instead of having a particular ingredient, make it theme based.  The two easiest to think of and that would be familiar to everyone were Italian and Mexican.  Sunday evening we began the process. When it came to breaking up the groups we put everyone’s name in a cup and alternated with the picking. I then gave them an index card that had their “secret theme” on it. Group 1 had Mexican and Group 2 , Italian.  They were given 30minutes to plan their menus and to prepare their grocery list.  They were given a budget of $45 for ten people, which were also to include our beverages.

They also decided to compare list among the two groups to decide what they could purchase together in order to conserve.  After we planned the menu  we headed back to our sleeping quartered, and eventually made our way to  the 24hour Wal-Mart. It was about 10:45pm, and everyone was given 30minutes in the store before they had to meet me at the cashier.  The two groups had to shop, plus 1 person had to get our breakfast foods, and  two others had to get everything we needed for lunches, while I took care of our snacks and miscellaneous items for the week.  It was great watching them run up and down the aisles trying to get what they needed and meet us before their time was up.  Each group actually came close to their budget limit, but did not go over. Also, it was great seeing them work together. It was a very healthy competition even til the end.  It was interesting how the groups panned out. Group #1 had two strong characters who had to learn how to work together in the kitchen and understand that the meal had to come together and was not about their individual dishes, but he collective experience.

They kept asking me who won. I kept pushing it off because I know how folks get when they are criticized, and when you have to choose a winner amongst them. And I was clearly not just going to say everyone wins! So I finally told them while at dinner at Elizabeth’s on Friday who won and gave constructive criticism of their meals. (Yes, momma didn’t raise no fool, I waited til the last day).


On Monday (Mexican Night) the menu was:
Nachos (appetizer), pan fried breaded chicken, and vegetable fried rice (main course) strawberry smoothes (desert)

On Tuesday (Italian Night) the menu was:
Bruschetta (appetizer), Chicken Parmesan w/spaghetti noodles (main course) strawberry filled glazed cupcakes (desert)



Group #2 won the competition because of the extra work they put into the appetizers and dessert and their usage of the dining room d├ęcor in which we ate (e.g. sitting us under the chandelier, utilizing real plate-ware, etc.).What another great part of our trip together.  This activity provided another way for bonding to take place. It also was essential for each team member to work in unity and bring their own gifts to the table to help enhance the overall presentation of the group. Another reason why I love my job…being able to utilize unconventional techniques to provide teaching moments for my students. 


Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 
RevMAH