Take cues from Shoemaker’s inspirational leadership

Editor's Note

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: March 1, 2013 in Editor's Note

On Feb. 24, the Rev. Steve Shoemaker, who has spent nearly 14 years as pastor of Myers Park Baptist Church, announced his resignation. (See story on goqnotes.com/21312.)

Shoemaker’s presence at Myers Park Baptist and in the larger progressive Christian community in Charlotte will be missed. For years, Shoemaker has been an outspoken and articulate advocate and ally for LGBT people in spheres both secular and religious.

Under his leadership, Myers Park Baptist became a welcoming and affirming church for LGBT congregants, leading to the church’s expulsion from the North Carolina Baptist State Convention. In civic spaces, Shoemaker regularly joined with other inclusive leaders of faith like Temple Beth El’s Rabbi Judy Schindler in supporting such measures as anti-bullying and non-discrimination policies. And, last year, Shoemaker was a strong voice of faith speaking out against the state’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment.

All this, on top of his regular duties and obligations as Myers Park Baptist Church’s senior pastor.

As a fellow person of faith, and as a Christian and Baptist, I am deeply grateful for Pastor Shoemaker’s selfless service to Charlotte’s faith community and its LGBT people. Shoemaker has often stood at the frontlines of public debate and scrutiny on our issues. His wisdom, intellect and calming reassurances have, no doubt, played a crucial role in moving our community forward in our quest for full equality.

Truly, Shoemaker has been a changer of hearts and minds. For that, our community should be ultimately grateful.

But, even now, Shoemaker continues to prove he leads with conviction and principle. His decision to let us into his life, at what I can imagine is a personally emotional and trying time, is laudable. We would all do well to follow his lead, pausing from time to time to reflect upon our own well-being. It is so often the case that many leaders in community organizations find themselves devoting great amounts of time and energy to their cause. Such devotion is honorable, but not when it comes at the expense of one’s personal health. Taking time for yourself and spending time with family and friends is paramount.

Are you sleeping well? Are you eating well? Are you exercising? Are you taking time to stop, pause, breathe, relax and reflect? Are you providing yourself a healthy balance between time for work, time for play, time for family and time for friends?

I know I would benefit from more sleep, more exercise and a healthier life balance. I bet many of us could.

Our collective personal health and well-being lies at the crux of our continued, successful movement for equality. Indeed, it is more important than that event next week, that policy being considered at city council, the fundraiser we have to plan, the board meeting we have to attend.

So, take some time. Go on vacation. Start an exercise regimen. Spend a warm day in the park reading a book and reflecting on life. Have some coffee with friends and take time to catch up on all the great happenings in their lives.

Our community — the sum total of all the individual, diverse and unique persons we are — benefits from our willingness to put as much stock in our personal well-being as we do the groups we are serving. : :