Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dedication of Zan Wesley Holmes Middle School

I am very proud to call Dr. Zan W. Holmes, Jr. a mentor, a friend and an encourager of mine.
There are preaching heroes and legends. Zan is a ministerial legend, and there is no such thing as a time spent in his presence that can be counted as anything but a blessing.

On Friday, Dr. Holmes will receive a signal honor: he will have a public school named after him. The Zan Wesley Holmes Middle School in west Oak Cliff will be dedicated in his honor. Few people are more worthy.

Dr. Holmes has had a life and career that has profoundly touched others. He has been a preacher, pastor, seminary professor a Texas state legislator and a community statesman. Ron Kirk, was the first black mayor of Dallas. But Zan could have been. A few years before Kirk's election, Zan was almost drafted to run. It was the first time I have ever known a black preacher to have to hold a press conference to announce that he did not want to be a candidate for public office!

I've known Zan personally for nearly 40 years. But my earliest memory of him was as the pastor of Hamilton Park United Methodist Church, in the community where I grew up. I was 8 years old and when he would come into the barbershop and I was impressed with the tremendous respect everyone had for him and the regard with which he engaged everyone there.

A recent 'Q&A' 'Faith & Leadership' article, shows a couple of reasons why, to this day, I love this man and love being around him!

Q: What are the major lessons that you have learned about preaching and pastoral ministry?

"One is to never be guilty of homiletical arrogance, to become so self-centered, so caught up in my own preaching, that I cannot learn from others who have different styles and emphases."

"I must be open to hear others and to seek to hear others."

"There are preachers I listen to. I may disagree with their theology, their emphasis, but I find that often I can learn from their style or what they say -- or I can learn what I don’t want to do."

"Another lesson is the difference between charity and justice. Charity deals with what I call social service. Justice deals with social justice."

"Charity is necessary, but it does not get at the root problems of many issues, like poverty and racism. Acts of charity do not solve those problems. There are also justice issues."

"In the criminal justice system, it’s not enough to visit, to have prison ministries. We should also be concerned about the criminal justice system, unfair punishment and the whole rehabilitation process."

"I also learned a lesson from a time when I had spiritual “burnout.” I did not have a deep prayer life. I was not giving enough attention to devotional practices, to prayer and preparation for preaching."

"I was treating the Bible as a tool every time I picked it up. I was looking for a sermon. I was not reading the Bible devotionally, and so I hit a spiritual crisis."

"I learned from that to place more focus on Bible study, on reading it not to ask, “What is in here that I can use to preach to those people?” but, “What is in here that’s speaking to me that I can preach with power and conviction?”"

Q: Serving in the Legislature, in the midst of powerful political and economic interests, is it difficult to be a legislator and remain true to the gospel?

"It’s a challenge. It’s a challenge, because I always knew my true convictions."

"I wanted justice, particularly for the oppressed, the poor, those who had been marginalized. I was very clear about that. I wanted to kick the ball forward and make progress. I had no problems forming relationships with so-called power people. In fact, they would come to me, because they knew I had influence and leadership in the black community."

"The tension is I could have easily sold out. I could have allowed them to manipulate me, and the struggle was to be sure I did not allow that to happen."

Read the rest of the article here, and Congratulations Zan Holmes! You deserve it...

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