By Taroue Brooks
Where can people buy your book?-
Tell us about your education/training.
As the first female preacher in a rural Missionary Baptist Church, my father insisted that I read every commentary and theological resource I could get my hands on. He thought I would give up and decide to become a doctor, but I kept on insisting that I was called to preach. I was licensed to preach at age 15 and ordained at age 25. I received a college preparatory diploma from Central High School, A Bachelor of Arts degree from Mercer University, both are located in Macon, GA. I went on to earn a Master of Divinity Degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta and I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in African-American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN.
Tell us about your new book.
Hard things happen to everyone. Preachers and faith leaders are people just like everyone else. Faith and spirituality do not exempt us from pain and heartbreak. About three years ago I was engaged. I thought my time of being single, dating, and getting to know new people was over. In the process of preparing for marriage, we discovered our lives were moving in different directions and we called off our engagement. I was heartbroken. 31 Days of Winning is a compilation of the words I told myself each day to get me out of bed. These words helped me conjure the will to show up in my own life and I did. I pray these words will help others the way that they helped me.
What is your title and responsibility at the church?
I serve as an Executive Pastor at the House of Hope in Atlanta, Georgia. I manage daily ministry operations and Membership Care. Our goal as a department is to show our church family that we care about them. We support and stand with our members at some of the most pivotal moments of their life’s journey. We stand with them and sometimes we cry with them in sickness, pain, death, and crisis. We also witness moments of healing, hope, joy, peace, promotion, and recovery. This is rewarding work! We are honored God trusts us to share this time with them.
The church leadership has been dominated by men. What gave you the courage to become a minister?
Hearing God’s voice is something you can’t shake. I knew, at age nine, that God called me to preach and serve in leadership. I was cursing at a student in Mrs. Wallace’s third-grade class. Another student, who was a Christian, reprimanded me. I heard God say at that moment, I didn’t give you this gift to tear people down. I gave you this gift of speech to build people up. The rest is history and I’ve been trying to empower people with my words ever since. I use relevant topics and biblical scholarship to show people themselves in the biblical text. Nothing happens to us that didn’t happen to someone in the Bible. We just have to find the stories and share them with our congregations. They are empowered when they learn they are not alone and God is present with them in their pain and promotion.
What has been the most memorable response you have received from anyone regarding one of your sermons?
Several years ago a teenage girl told me that she was battling the urge to commit suicide and my sermon encouraged her to live. Helping people transition their thought-life from death and loss to life and recovery is the greatest reward of ministry and it points people to the salvific power of the cross.
How do you replenish your energy after having given so much of yourself?
Family and the people who make up your tribe are like medicine. My tribe is responsible for my second wind. They help me recharge after long days and nights of ministry. In addition, I love thrifting and shopping. I don’t wear half of it, but I like having unique accessories to enjoy from time to time. I also play tennis.
Where do you vision your career in ministry in the next five years?
In addition to being a preacher, leader, public theologian, modern-day philosopher, and hope dealer, I hope to be the most healthy version of myself. We meet so many versions of ourselves on the way to who we are becoming. I just hope I become better each day. In terms of career, I’d like to continue pastoring full-time and perhaps add a tenured professorship to my dossier.
What advice would you give to a young lady who has expressed interest in becoming a minister?
Ministry for men and women must be a calling. It cannot be something we do merely, because its interesting or alluring. Being the first and the only in certain spaces will require strong convictions. You must know with unwavering certainty that you are in the will of God. Make sure it’s God and make sure you are ready to make real sacrifices. Hold on to your values and your beliefs with everything you have. Don’t compromise your identity for followers, money, or popularity and God will always honor your authenticity.
The church has clearly changed. What do you feel needs to happen so that the church will thrive?
As African-Americans, we don’t process shared power well. Often we feel someone must be on top instead of us thriving together at the top. The sin of comparison and the propensity to compete keeps us in strife with each other. The church will thrive when we tear down the walls that divide us and model the unity exhibited by the church in the book of Acts. We must embody the radical love ethic Christ demonstrated in the Gospel narratives. This keeps the church’s arms open and the hearts of people tender and ready for transformation to take place.
What else can we expect to see you involved with in the near future?
I’m sure another book is on the horizon in addition to my academic work in Genderized Politics and self-care for persons thriving in hard places and tight spaces. I plan to continue sharing my gifts of leadership, preaching, teaching, and cultivating high functioning teams with the world. This is a winning season and I’m excited about the next chapter because I know the Author personally.