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Most have heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” However, it does not take long before people realized this nursery rhyme was far from the truth. Even the toughest exteriors walk away with internal scars when words are used as weapons of mass destruction. It is amazing despite how small the tongue is, it has started more wars and been responsible for more tragedy than anything else.
Recently, gospel singer and pastor, Kim Burrell, came under fire after video footage of a sermon went viral where she spoke harshly against the LGBTQ community. She used graphic descriptions of sexual acts and even spoke against mega pastor Eddie Long and the allegations of sexual abuse that sent shock waves through the faith community several years ago. Of the disgraced pastor, she said:
Watching Bishop Eddie Long go down to nothing is an embarrassment to the church. Nobody would be thinking that you had AIDS if a homosexual man didn’t come out and reveal what you did behind closed doors.
These and other remarks were met with backlash from mainstream entertainment celebrities and religious communities alike. The pastor was scheduled to appear with Pharrell Williams on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to perform a selection from the movie “Hidden Figures” but has since been uninvited. Burrell’s rant insulted many of her supporters while injuring her career.
At this stage, whether or not the singer’s words intended to harm anyone is a moot point. The bigger concern is the attitude that she displayed during the delivery. The Bible speaks of the power of the tongue and stresses the importance of seasoning words with love and grace. However, the harshness of Burrell’s message demonstrated otherwise.
The singer took to Facebook to clarify her actions but seemed to add insult to injury. Instead of accepting blame, she talked about the lack of music sales and told the offended parties that they were mad because they wanted to be. She accused “enemies” of misconstruing her words, when in fact, the message people heard came directly from her mouth. In the midst of explaining herself, she quickly went from insult to injury.
Truth is, everyone “falls short”, and Burrell is no exception. What she failed to realize is, owning it is the first step in restoring the moral compass of inspiration. When people blow it, they do not need any big revelation to identify it; they know it. Instead of shifting blame, it is more beneficial to start seeing those times as an excellent opportunity to expand and enhance personal development.
Listed below are three tips that can help Pastor Burrell and others with the transitions of ownership in controversial times:
- Admit It: Refusal to admit an error does nothing more than delay personal growth. To avoid responsibility for a mistake is wasted time and energy. Restoration cannot happen without ownership.
- Learn From It: Experience can be a costly teacher, but the only irreparable ones are the mistakes we do not grow from. Perform an autopsy to discover what went wrong. Always maximize mistakes by extracting a lesson.
- Spread The Wealth: What good is life changing information if no one else has the opportunity to benefit from it? The way to true success is through empowering others.
Of mistakes, famed playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” Although this may be true, it does not ease the pain or frustration when walking through a tough experience. Here is the deal, everyone makes mistakes. No matter the many efforts people make to seem flawless, frailties abound. In order to manage mistakes properly, a person must own the error and adopt a new behavior.
Burrell’s performance was booted from the “Ellen Show” and Texas Southern University has pulled her radio show. However, she still has the responsibility of being honest with herself as well as an example to those she is called to lead. Go ahead preachers and cry loud, but instead of condemning folk to hell, it is time to speak the truth in love. Although what spewed from Kim Burrell’s lips sounded like hate speech, the power to recover is also in the pastor’s mouth. As it stands, her level of influence hangs in the balance between insult and injury.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
St. Louis American: Ellen blocks Kim Burrell, singer responds to backlash about anti-gay sermon
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