Rev Fave

The Moment When Everything Changed

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I have never seen him like this. Since the 5th grade, he has always been the epitome of cool. He has never raised his voice, behaved erratically or emotionally. Through decades of euphoric highs and dungeon level lows, he has maintained a neutrality in his demeanor that always reflected peace, but not excitement. We’ve laughed, joked and encouraged each other over the years as we navigated through middle school, high school, college, career changes, marriage, fatherhood, divorce and re-invention. Like most guys, we didn’t talk about our emotions, but our connection remained strong. He is not just my best friend, he is my brother.

And everything about him changed the moment he met her.

His modest, reserved personality began sprouting sudden outbursts of joy on Facebook. He started posting date night photos and making frequent trips to where she lived. Our conversations on the phone went from sports and music to relationship lessons and thoughts of the future. He wasn’t just in love, he had made a decision to love. This would be the first of many decisions that would impact their lives forever.

He proposed. She accepted. Planning began. He began expressing his emotions more as we grew closer to the big day. They picked colors together, decided on wedding favors and asked me to lead their ceremony. Despite my substantial counseling and prayer, nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed on their wedding day.

My best friend was beaming with joy unlike anything I’d ever seen. It was so vibrant that it made him look younger. He smiled incessantly. There was a diamond-like sparkle in his eyes. No cold feet; just high anticipation. He cried tears of joy – several times. Their vows were endearing. His confidence in his decision to love his bride until death was undeniable. The way he held her during their first dance, it was clear that he was never letting her go.

In 30+ years, I have never seen my best friend smile beyond his classic “smirk.” I have never seen him cry one tear; let alone a steady stream down his face. We’ve been at school dances and formal events; but I’d never seen my brother slow dance. I have never seen him so submerged in joy and happiness – and it looked good on him. Challenges and triumphs are on the horizon for these newlyweds, but I believe God will keep them through it all.

I realize that God is the originator of all the joy I witnessed. Everything about me changed the moment I accepted Him into my life. This milestone in my brother’s life was a strong reminder that I need to reflect the joy and happiness God continues to give me with life, health, strength and opportunities to help others. My smiling is a rarity and I’m working hard to increase my frequency.

I don’t want someone to be in search of God and cannot get a glimpse of Him in me.

Why I Will Never Have a First Lady

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The first panoramic view from the pulpit often gives me a sobering pictorial of my reality. Universal images of gum chewers, crying babies and sleeping congregants are par for the course. My eyes always find their way to the front, where she likes to sit. Her headgear is large enough to balance a small fruit basket. Her smile gleams almost as bright as that diamond ring on her left hand. She’s fresh dressed — like a million bucks; with accessories coordinated with a meticulous level of detail.

Her regal aesthetic is a reflection of the man of God to whom she belongs. If the church were a Christmas tree, then she would be the star. She’s the First Lady.

And I will never have one.

My pastor’s wife is just that…his wife. She is his help meet. His best friend. His lifelong cheerleader, personal chef, co-parent, counselor, road trip partner and motivational speaker. I watch her take care of him with such fervor, even after 35+ years of marriage. She is many things to him, but she is not a First Lady. My pastor doesn’t allow anyone to refer to her as such.

Having a “first” implies a sequential order. There is no second, third or so on when it comes to the love of your life. She is his one and only — her function is to be by his side and not be revered by a congregation. More importantly, she brings so much class and grace to her role as his wife, that being a First Lady would be a demotion.

At first glance, it may seem like an overreaction to semantics; yet the neurolinguistic programming of this moniker makes a difference in the long run. While my pastor’s wife plays an integral role in his ministry, there is no confusion as to her primary role in his life. The only thing greater than her devotion is the reciprocity of love that is displayed whenever I see them together.

It is my prayer than men in ministry — or any man who’s ready to welcome it — finds a wife who transcends social constructs and adheres to high spiritual conduct. First can be any number in any given sequence, but “one” will always be the first number in infinity — the welcome sign towards eternity.

As she waits to be discovered, I believe that miraculous woman should prepare to be worthy of discovery. Meanwhile men should work towards being worthy of her preparation. And when their love for God and individual joy collide — they will jointly discover the labor of love that comes from being more than the first.

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