Lessons from South Africa & Ubuntu!

Last month, I had the privilege to serve as a keynote speaker for Work 2.0 Africa.  My co-worker had long encouraged me to visit Africa and read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.  I finished that 500-plus page work on the 24-hour trek from Houston, Texas to Johannesburg then read his Conversations with Myself on the trip home.

Mandela worked tirelessly for freedom and equality of black South Africans.  In 1993, more than 50 years after his political career started with the African National Council’s Youth League and after spending 27 years in jail, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with South President F.W. de Klerk.  The following year, Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically-elected President.

It’s a powerful story, and I enjoyed my visit to Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum.

In September of last year, I attended Bob Nelson’s “Strategies for Recognizing and Motivating Your Workforce” at JSC.  Shortly thereafter, I read his book Ubuntu! An Inspiring Story about an African Tradition of Teamwork & Collaboration.

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Gracism: The Art of Inclusion

Matthew 5 - Anger

Matthew 5:21-24 (from The Message) – Jesus says, “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.  This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.”

My Pastor, Dr. Steve Laufer, notes, “The positive side of the sixth commandment is pretty far-reaching, as reconciliation and forgiveness are tied to killing and violence. The New Testament writers speak often about the responsibility of disciples to seek reconciliation when they have wronged or been wronged by another. In doing so one squashes the possibility of violence, gives testimony to God’s forgiveness in his or her own life, and becomes one of the ‘peacemakers’ that is called ‘blessed’ in the beginning of Jesus’s great Sermon on the Mount.”

Last Summer, I read Gracism:  The Art of Inclusion by David A. Anderson.  Gracism, unlike racism, doesn’t focus on race for negative purposes such as discrimination.  Gracism focuses on race for the purpose of positive ministry and service.  When the grace of God can be communicated through the beauty of race, then you have gracism.  That’s the reconciliation Jesus wants in Matthew 5.

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