Day: April 19, 2013

Build Up Not Tear Down with Our Words!

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positive words

I have been blessed today to meet a humble blogger. His position of humility touched me to the core of my being. A child of God who I have never had the opportunity of meeting in person. His kind words and positive attitude to be a vessel of honor made me confident that God is working in this space & time. We are space and time people that require submission to God’s plan for our life. Stewardship of the blessing of ministry and blood bought humans need to love on each other as He loved us.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.

Audrey Hepburn

I am sure you have heard someone say, “You are going to eat those words.” It may sound like a mere phrase to us, but in reality we do eat our words. What we say not only affects others, but it also affects us.

Words are wonderful when used in a proper way. They can encourage, edify and give confidence to the hearer. A right word spoken at the right time can actually be life-changing. (See Proverbs 15:23.)

We can literally increase our own joy by speaking right words. We can also upset ourselves by talking unnecessarily about our problems or things that have hurt us in relationships.

Not too long ago I had a disappointing situation take place with someone I considered to be a close friend. I noticed that each time I talked about it, I would have a difficult time getting it off of my mind for the remainder of the day. I finally realized that if I wanted to get over it, I was going to have to stop mentally and verbally going over it again and again. People kept asking me about the situation out of genuine concern, but I ultimately realized that I had to answer, “It is better for me if I just don’t talk about it.”

What Happens When We Speak?

The words that come out of our mouth go into our own ears as well as other people’s, and then they drop down into our soul where they give us either joy or sadness, peace or upset, depending on the types of words we have spoken.

“ When we understand the power of words and realize that we can choose what we think and speak, our lives can be transformed. ”

God desires that our spirit be light and free so it can function properly, not heavy and oppressed. We can learn to choose our thoughts, to resist wrong ones and think on good, healthy, and right ones. I have often said, “Where the mind goes, the man follows.” And it could also be said that where the mind goes, the mouth follows!

When we understand the power of words and realize that we can choose what we think and speak, our lives can be transformed.

Plan to Say Something Positive

God has given His children a new nature, and we are taught to daily renew our mind and attitude. Having a positive outlook on life and speaking positive words based on God’s Word is one of the most wholesome things we can do.

When you get up in the morning, if there is something you need to attend to that day that you’re not looking forward to, you can say, “I dread this day,” or you can say, “God will give me strength today to do whatever I need to do and to do it with joy.” Which of these two statements do you think would better prepare you for the day?

As we have seen, we eat our words, and we can rightfully say that they are food for our souls. Anyone who wants to be healthy is careful to choose quality food that will provide good nutrition. If we want to be healthy in our soul and spirit, we should also choose to take in words that will build us up and increase our peace and joy.

Draw Attention to the Positive

I believe there are many good things happening in the world and probably there is more good than bad. But the evil is magnified in a way that often seems overwhelming. Turn on any news station or buy any newspaper or news magazine and you will find it filled with reports of murder, theft, wars, famine and all kinds of horribly tragic events.

We want to be well informed of what is going on, but to talk about world problems excessively or with no purpose merely creates a gloomy atmosphere that nobody will enjoy.

I recently walked into a room and heard a group of people talking about several businesses that had recently filed bankruptcy. Then they mentioned two others that they had heard were going to file bankruptcy. I felt a gloom hanging in the atmosphere so I said, “Well, God is not bankrupt and He is on our side.” Everyone agreed with me and immediately, the atmosphere changed.

I am not suggesting at all that we deny reality, but we can choose what we talk about. Instead of feeding ourselves a steady diet of “bad news,” we should choose to read, watch and talk about good things.

What Are You Talking About?

We talk a lot and quite often pay no attention to what we are saying, let alone think seriously about the impact of our words.

If we are honest with ourselves, we may find that some of our bad moods are directly linked to our conversation. Even some of our problems can be linked to bad choices we make about what we say.

I want to encourage you to take some time and think about the types of things you usually talk about. What kind of conversation do you enjoy and participate in?

How to Get More Joy Out of Life

Your words may not be the cause all of your problems, but they can cause a lot of them and they should be given a good deal of consideration when we are looking for answers to the problems we encounter in life.

We all have challenges in life, but we can make them better or worse by the way we talk about them. I don’t believe we can change all of our circumstances into pleasant ones by making positive confessions, but I do believe many of them will change according to God’s will. I simply want to teach you to be in agreement with God and learn to say what He says.

One thing is for sure, speaking negatively could hurt you and speaking positively never will, so why not go with the positive and see what kind of results you get?

The Hand of God is not Limited to Building Leaders

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Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.
Author: Jim Elliot

Being connected to Christ and His spirit feels so liberating. I thank God that today he has unleashed some quality understanding to me about exuding leadership. I thank you heavenly Father for the time to study and apply what “You” have given. Make me ready for “Your” return in Jesus name Amen!

Introduction: ‘We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ (Ephesians 2: 10)

God can use people with or without the natural ability and proper background. God can, and often chooses to, work with raw material. God prepares and empowers those He chooses to do His work so He does not need to call people into leadership who have the natural drive, training, or good models of leadership in their background. He does not need to use people who took the part or who are already popular. “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1: 26 – 27) The disciples, who went on to be founding leaders of the church, were fishermen and tax-collectors by trade. They were not highly educated or from influential families. Some had strong, driven personalities but others did not.

* Be careful not to limit God. Take Him at His word when He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12: 9).

God prepares those He calls. The disciples spent three years with Jesus to prepare them to be the early leaders of the church but even still, before they were to go out on their own, they had to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them in power. God uses life experiences to mold and shape leaders. God uses life experiences to develop perspectives and passions essential to the capacity of leadership to which He calls.

* Be careful not to short-circuit this preparation time due to impatience. God’s ways and timing are best.

God equips those He calls. God will use the way He designed people and their spiritual gifting to steer them into what type of leader they should be.

What is leadership?
Leadership is exercising true authority (in Christ)

• Expertise, facility, capacity – insight in to the things of God
• A consequence of obedience and integrity
• Used to build people up, to mend them, to serve them
• Evidenced by the conditions of the disciples

What are the characteristics of Christian leadership?

1. Intimacy with Christ

The first and most important thing Christian leaders need to do is develop a strong and intimate relationship with God. In an article by Gordon MacDonald he says, “the forming of the soul that it might be a dwelling place for God is the primary work of the Christian leader”. Developing this intimate relationship with God through daily prayer and reflective Bible study is vital if Christian leaders are going to be all they can be in God.

We see that Jesus modeled this drawing away to a solitary place to connect with His heavenly Father in prayer. In Mark 1:35 we see that He did this alone and in Mark 6:35 he called the disciples to draw away from the pressing crowds. As Christian leaders we need to follow Jesus example to make sure we come aside from the business of life and ministry to make our connection with the Father. As we do, we find that our relationship with God grows and we allow Him to speak to us. We can also learn from Scripture and receive guidance on how He wants us to lead the people we are overseeing. I believe this time alone with God is vital for our growth, seeking direction and for our long term survival of the pressures of ministry brings.

2. Spirit-Driven and Passionate

Jesus lived his life and did everything he did with a clear sense of purpose and thus was Spirit-driven (Mark 1: 35-39; Luke 4: 43; 5: 32). He was preoccupied with the purpose with which his Father had sent him into the world – that was his passion or top priority (John 4: 31-34). His vision was sharp (not blurred), goal was clear and he never allowed anything to distract him from the goal (Luke 12: 13-14; 13: 31-32). He was very clear in communicating the purpose with which he chose his disciples (Matt. 4: 18-19; Mark 1: 16-17; 3: 13-14). He reiterated his purpose even before he ascended into heaven after his resurrection (Matt. 28: 16-20; Acts 1: 7-8). When they received the Holy Spirit and began their ministry, we notice that they followed the example of their master and lived a focused and Spirit-driven life. They did not allow anything, including the good things in the ministry to distract them from the main thing, which was their top priority (see Acts 2: 32-41, 47b; 3: 11-16 and 19-20; 4: 1-12; 5: 41-6: 7). The apostles did not deviate from their priorities – they learnt from their master the principle of keeping the main thing(s), the main thing(s). Paul also demonstrates for us that this is a key ingredient in successful Christian leadership. He was very sharply focused, was driven by a clear sense of purpose, both in life and ministry, pursued his goal with perseverance, and finished his race (see 1 Cor. 9: 15-27; Gal. 2: 1-10; Phil. 3: 7-14; 2 Tim. 3: 10-11; 4: 1-8). This is the pattern we should follow and inspire others to emulate us.

3. Servant-Leaders

To learn of what truly is servant leadership, it is important that we follow Christ’s command and example. In Matthew 20 and 23, Christ tells us that we need, first of all, to lead in an attitude of servant hood.

Matt 20:26-28 Yet it shall be not so among you but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desire t be first among you, let him be your servant, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Matt 23:11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

In the gospels, we notice that Jesus’ disciples were involved in dispute over who would be the greatest among them (Luke 9: 46-50; 22: 24-30; Mark 9: 33-37; 10: 35-45; Matt. 20: 20-28). They were preoccupied with themselves and their positions of power and authority. They were measuring greatness in positional terms and that led to a sort of ‘power struggle’. However, Jesus teaches them that they should not be like the leaders of the Gentiles who lord it over them, but be like Himself and learn to lead by serving (1 Peter 5: 1-4). This is what is called ‘servant leadership’. Jesus offers Himself as a paradigm or model for them to follow. It is in this context that we should consider the example of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet (John 13: 1-17). In a Jewish household, this was the job of the lowest servant and so none of Jesus’ disciples wanted to do that. Thus, they came in with dusty and dirty feet. It was then that Jesus, who knew who he was under God, got up and began to wash their feet, giving them a practical demonstration of ‘servant leadership’.

It has, of late, become fashionable to talk or teach about this. However, what we need now is not just more teaching, but more leaders that practice this style of leadership.

True servant leaders know their strengths and weaknesses and surround themselves with those who have complementary abilities and can offset their weaknesses. Servant leaders invest themselves in enabling others to do their best, allowing teamwork to move their ministry. A true servant leader allows those alongside to grow into a great servant leader as well. True servant leaders invest in their team, empowering them to serve others in the same humility they display to others. They are committed to serving with humility and concern, having a forgiving and giving heart. They are willing to sacrifice personally for the well being of others. They are willing to do humble tasks, but as their leader, they always have in mind a larger vision.

A serving attitude does not imply willingness to be abused by others or the toleration of exploitation. Servant leaders are not enablers to those who should be helping themselves. A true servant leader is disciplined in all areas of life, knowing their first responsibility is to serve God and then to others. Servant leaders must first of all please God; they are not moved solely by the need to please others.

4. Character and Integrity

One of the keys to successful long Christian leadership is the desire to live with character and integrity. In 1 Timothy 3:8-12 and Titus 1:5-9 it lists 24 characteristics that should be seen in Christian leadership. Some of these include being of good behavior, not greedy for money, not given to excessive drinking, not quick tempered, but being self controlled, a responsible steward, one that holds fast to the Word of God and has a good reputation outside the church. It tells us that these qualities should be evident in the lives of those who are called to Christian leadership. In saying this though, it does not say that one has to be perfect to be in Christian leadership. That is not possible as we are all human and fall short at times. However, it is saying that these things must be evident most of the time.

Integrity is “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle, uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.” In the world today, ‘integrity’ is not valued as the most important thing in life and business. Paul says that saying, “Yes, yes” and “No, no” in the same breath is the world’s way (2 Cor. 1: 17). In saying this, Paul is following the teaching of Jesus Himself, who says, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matt. 5: 37). We have to be like this, because our God is like this. We all know this theoretically. However, in practice it appears that Christians and Christian leaders are no different from others. It is very painfully true of many top leaders even in the Church and Para-Church organizations today. We cannot be sure if what a Christian leader is saying is true or not and so we cannot trust them. They are not proving to be people of their word who can be taken at their word. What they say and what they have inside and what they say and what they do, do not match often. This lack of integrity in a leader breeds mistrust, pretense or even hypocrisy among the people and such a leader does not enjoy respect and ceases to lead in a Christian manner. Jesus spoke very harshly against ‘the Pharisaical piety,’ which lacked integrity and warned his disciples to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (see Luke 11: 37-43; 12: 1-3). Jesus highlighted the lack of integrity between their teaching or preaching and practice, when he said, “So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matt. 23: 1-3). Even Paul exhorts Titus, a young leader saying, “In your teaching show integrity . . .” (Titus 2: 6-8). When a leader’s character is marked by integrity, then respect and cooperation follow and he or she has a positive godly influence on others and this is real leadership.

I firmly believe that as Christian leaders we need to have this same commitment to living with character and integrity the Bible talks about. We need to have a good testimony both in and outside the church and before God and man. Billy Graham put it perfectly when he said “If I were ever to do anything dishonoring to Christ, I would rather He take me home to heaven before I did it”.

5. Risk-Takers

The concept of risk is a challenging one for many Christian leaders. On the one hand, many churches and Christian organizations are conservative in their target setting. Leaders may feel that if their church or organization doesn’t hit the targets of vision that it has set itself, then the church has not only failed, but that God is not blessing them. This is a dangerous paradigm to take.

On the other hand, God is a God who understands and uses weakness to achieve His purpose. Achieving the salvation of the world through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was the ultimate in using weakness. It was also risky. The very heart of the sacrifice of the cross was that Jesus chose to go through with it. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36). It had to be a real choice, with the inherent risk that Jesus could not go through with it. If there was no choice, there was no sacrifice. The Father chose to make Christ fully human, with the risk that he could be fall to the temptation of Satan, that he could succumb to the corrupting influence of power, or that he could sidestep the ultimate sacrifice. The fact that Jesus resisted all temptation, maintained his integrity with the spiritual power with which he was entrusted, and surrendered himself to the cross does not take away any of that risk.

In the selection of His twelve disciples, Jesus also took significant risk. Those who have hired people to fulfill roles where the job will expand significantly know the difficulty of selecting people who will make the transition successfully. Jesus took the risk of calling a group that would probably not make the short list of most current-day executive search teams!

Setting too simple a goal can severely limit the organization’s ability to achieve great things for the Kingdom of God. Michelangelo said “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” If we set small-step, incremental goals, there is a tendency that we do what we used to, only better. If we challenge ourselves with large goals, then we need to take risks in redefining our strategy.

6. Team-Worker Jesus could have for sure done a lot more and better, if he had not had his disciples with him. However, he chose to work together with them and to build the team of his disciples, the first leaders of the Church. He taught them, gave them OJT (On the Job Training), heard their reports, prayed with them, corrected them, gave them opportunities to see him in action, and ended up investing most of his time and effort on them. This is what we find in the Gospels and Acts 1: 1-8). From Jesus’ teaching and model, we learn that there is no place for ‘lone rangers’ in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, I believe, all Christian leaders would be team players, team builders that are committed to the discipline of working with and for a team and make themselves accountable to others in the team. Without neglecting their personal tasks and goals, they give adequate attention and priority to the collective tasks and goals and invest in empowering others. Otherwise, Christian leaders become carnal, worldly, and selfish and cease to be Christian leaders.

7. Committed to Making Disciples

The last words of Christ before returning to heaven are recorded in Matthew chapter 28:19-20. It says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you”. This verse is a clear command to reach people with the love and saving message of Jesus and to teach them how to follow Jesus and His teachings.

As Christian leaders I believe the core of what we do is to love God, love people and to make disciples. We need to focus our energies on loving and bringing people into the Kingdom and teaching them how to continue to grow in their faith and service of God. The early church understood this and as a result many thousands of people came to faith in a short time. In Acts chapter 2:42 we see that, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer”. In committing themselves to these things, the early church members were able to grow to maturity and be sent out in their community to reach others for Christ.

Conclusion: Christian leadership begins with God’s calling, and that call comes in two parts. First, he gives you a desire to serve him, and second, the church recognizes in you those elements of character and those gifts which qualify you to serve in leadership. In those qualifications, character is much more prominent than gifts. The first qualification for Christian leadership is Christ-like character. If we are to lead Christ’s people in Christ’s way, we must ourselves be men who have walked with Christ—on the Calvary road. May God help us to be such men as we lead his church. Amen!

Remember Your Faith While In Hostile WorkPlace

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In America, courts have interpreted harassment in the workplace to mean speech or conduct based on “race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or, in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation, political affiliation, citizenship status, marital status, or personal appearance” of the person complaining or of a reasonable person.

Policies are many, Principles are few, Policies will change, Principles never do.

John C. Maxwell

stock-photo-16548756-twin-businessman-pointing

In today’s society it is more than likely that we are going to be faced with working in a hostile environment, that is not conducive with our Christian walk. Fortunately God has given us examples in his word of how to overcome these hostile environments and continue to do His work. One particular story that I would like us to look at today is the life’s of Joseph and David. We will be looking at several different points on how to overcome these situations.

READ: Genesis 39:1-12

First we see that God Anoints You in Trouble. Joseph had been thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery. From this God was able to raise Him up and make him a great man of worth to Potiphar (Verse 4). He was liked and trusted so much as a slave that he was given free rein around the house to do what he saw fit. We can see that through times of trouble and trial that we will face while working, God will be able to bless us and strengthen us as we work for Him. We must remember that God never leaves our side and is always there for His children.

Second, we need to remember to Do Your Job Well, But Remember the Mission and don’t expect to be Appreciated.

If we READ Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”

We are called to win souls and fight the spiritual battle over darkness. We are not to go to work looking for: Friendship, Emotional Support, Social Activities, or Counseling. If we seek to be appreciated by the world and co-workers we will only be let down time and time again. We need to go to work for two reasons only: Work and Pay. We should look to Christ and our fellow Christians for the things that work doesn’t supply. We are to look to God for our riches and blessings.

Third, Don’t Let Your Environment Get Inside of You. Daily we need to set our feet on the foundation of Christ and equip ourselves with the armor of God to protect ourselves from the world. Joseph was surrounded by temptation and idolatrous ways, but He had remembered how God had carried him through the rougher times and was going to do only the things that would please Him. If, Joseph would have failed to the temptations of Potiphar’s wife he would have been no better then the other slaves. We must remember though, that just letting a leak of water into our boat and not paying attention to it, will eventually lead to flooding our boat and sinking it. Just a little sin of the world getting into our lives will slowly start to pull us away from God’s will.

Fourth, to overcome this hostile environment we must increase Our Capacity to Work With Different Personalities. We must not enter into the work place with a closed mind on personalities. God will bless you through people that you don’t ever like. Don’t limit yourself to certain people you work with. God didn’t limit his ministry to the devote Jews, but walked among the tax collectors and prostitutes to minister to them. Every area is full of honest and dishonest people; we must be diverse enough to overcome it.

Fifth, we must know that Where You Are Doesn’t Define Where You Are Going. “Send me your son David who is tending to the flock.”

READ 2 Samuel 2:4, “Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David King over the house of Judah.”

David went from being a sheepherder to being the King of God’s promised land. We must have HOPE and keep our eye on the final prize. Remember that we are alive, because He is not done using us yet. Saul was trying to kill David, but God did not let it happen, because God had our plans for David. Do not roll over and play dead.

Sixth, Don’t Pledge Allegiance with the Cliches in Your Work Environment. You can’t be in the cliche and lead them toward a Christ like life, while being in the cliche. Christ did not limit himself to any one cliche in order to minister to them all. God wants to rescue us from worldly people, and have us cling to Him. God cannot enlarge our spiritual life, if we limit ourselves to one particular area. God has specifically told us that we are not going to separate from the world.

Seventh, Always Keep Your Song Near You. This is that intimate place in your soul that you have solely devoted to God.

READ – Psalm 146:2, “I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”

As long as your focus is on God and you are constantly worshiping Him in all that we do, you will not be able to be broken down. As the day goes on from start to finish, keep your song in your soul, and allow God to brighten your environment. Nothing will be able to take from this spiritual high place.

We too often look for resources to solve and fight our spiritual battles in the world and forget that all the resources we need are already in us and provided by God.

The greatest witness on the job is to be personally pleasant and undeniably productive. Unfortunately, we grow up feeling obligated to share our faith rather than to allow people to observe it by our professional integrity.

Christians should not use the workplace for vocal and blatant evangelism—as happens so much in the name of God, from politics to picketing. (If God were so inclined, I believe He could sue most Christians for false representation.) The real witness to Christ is love, peace, contentment, etc. These inaudible attributes—coupled with excellent work ethics and fulfilled promises to staff members, employees, or consumers—speak volumes. Maturity require it to be exuded coupled with discipline. Be graceful and remember to have a devoted prayer life and devotion time.

An example of the United Scams of America

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While corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and mail fraud.; it is not restricted to these activities. In this country, corruption is so common that it is expected when ordinary businesses or citizens interact with government officials. The end-point of political corruption is a kleptocracy, literally “rule by thieves”.

 


Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

George Washington

Reading the story on coal miners facing the disappearance of their contracted health and retirement benefits (“Miners are making a stand here,” Jan. 29) made me angry enough to cry. Once again we see an entire class of people taken by industry titans who made promises of future benefits in return for immediate work but who aren’t to be found now that the bill comes due.

Said titans long ago lived in the mansions, drank the cognac, smoked the cigars, etc., and — now protected by death and modern contracts — seem beyond accountability.

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case, but instead, it’s the “new norm.”

The list of “easy pickins” continues to grow: Pensioners who invested in Enron; Vietnam veterans; college students going into debt; and please don’t get me started on the federal deficit.

We have evolved to a country where “leaders” have carte blanche to benefit from putting current obligations on a credit card, but are nowhere to be found when the bill comes due. Meanwhile, their successors get away with, “but I didn’t do it” … “not my fault” … “not on my watch.”

Welcome to the successor to the USA: the United Scams of America, where our slogan is “I’m getting mine any way I can and to hell with anyone else.”

Where has our sense of decency gone, or the simple ability to discern right from wrong? I wish I could blame one political party, or one modern titan, one union leader, or even one media outlet, but it’s not possible.

It makes me angry enough to cry.


John Howard Griffin, the author and main character of Black Like Me, is a middle-aged white man living in Mansfield, Texas in 1959. Deeply committed to the cause of racial justice and frustrated by his inability as a white man to understand the black experience, Griffin decides to take a radical step: he decides to undergo medical treatment to change the color of his skin and temporarily become a black man. After securing the support of his wife and of George Levitan, the editor of a black-oriented magazine called Sepia which will fund Griffin’s experience in return for an article about it, Griffin sets out for New Orleans to begin his life as a black man. He finds a contact in the black community, a soft-spoken, articulate shoe-shiner named Sterling Williams, and begins a dermatological regimen of exposure to ultraviolet light, oral medication, and skin dyes. Eventually, Griffin looks in the mirror and sees a black man looking back. He briefly panics, feeling that he has lost his identity, and then he sets out to explore the black community. Griffin expects to find prejudice, oppression, and hardship, but he is shocked at the extent of it: everywhere he goes, he experiences difficulties and insults. The word “nigger” seems to echo from every street corner.

It is impossible to find a job, or even a restroom that blacks are allowed to use. Clerks refuse to cash his checks, and a white bully nearly attacks him before he chases the man away. After several traumatic days in New Orleans, Griffin decides to travel into the Deep South of Mississippi and Alabama, which are reputed to be even worse for blacks. (In Mississippi, a grand jury has just refused to indict a lynch mob that murdered a black man before he could stand trial.) In Mississippi, he is disheartened and exhausted, so he calls a white friend named P.D. East, a newspaperman who is ferociously opposed to racism. He spends a day with East, during which time they discuss the way racial prejudice has been incorporated into the South’s legal code by bigoted writers and politicians. Eventually, a rejuvenated Griffin leaves for a long hitchhiking trip throughout Alabama and Mississippi.

In general, Griffin finds that conditions for blacks are appalling, and that black communities seem run-down and defeated. He even notices a look of defeat and hopelessness on his own face, after only a few weeks as a black man. In Montgomery, however, the black community is charged with determination and energy by the example of one of its leaders, a preacher named Marin Luther King, Jr. Blacks in Montgomery have begun practicing passive resistance, a nonviolent form of refusing to comply with racist laws and rules. Griffin, again depressed and weary of life as a black man, briefly stops taking his medication and lightens his skin back to his normal color. He begins alternating back and forth between races, visiting a place first as a black man and then as a white man. He notices immediately that when he is a white man, whites treat him with respect and blacks treat him with suspicious fear; when he is a black man, blacks treat him with generosity and warmth, while whites treat him with hostility and contempt. Griffin concludes that the races do not understand one another at all, and that a tolerant dialogue is needed to bridge the terrible gap separating them.

In Atlanta, Griffin conducts a long series of interviews with black leaders before returning to New Orleans to make a photographic record of his time there. He then goes off his medication entirely, permanently returning his skin color to white. He returns home to his family and writes his article, which is published in March 1960. After the article appears, Griffin is called on to do interviews with prominent television shows and newsmagazines. The story of his amazing experience quickly spreads around the world, and he receives a flood of congratulatory mail. In Mansfield, however, the prevalent attitude is that of racism, and Griffin and his family become the subject of hateful reprisals. An effigy of Griffin, painted half white and half black, is burned on Main Street; a cross is burned in a Negro schoolyard; threats are made against Griffin, including one to castrate him. By August, things are so bad that he has decided to move his family to Mexico. Before he goes, he has a talk with a little black boy, to whom he explains that racism is a result of social conditioning, not any inherent quality within blacks or whites. He issues a plea for tolerance and understanding between the races, fearing that, if the current conflict is sustained, it will explode in an outbreak of terrible violence.

Equality before the law, like universal suffrage, holds a privileged place in our political system, and to deny equality before the law delegitimizes that system. . . . when these rights are denied, the expectation that the affronted parties should continue to respect the political system . . . that they should continue to treat it as a legitimate political system–has no basis.