By Carl McRoy
Carl McRoy [CM]: Hello Dr. Thompson. Thank you for sharing your time and talent with me on behalf of ThreeFifths.online. Our theme for March is “Times of Refreshing” and is backlit by the philosophy of “sankofa.” The idea is that as we look forward to the refreshing times that Spring is known for, we want to retrieve lessons of the past to inform our future. As we do so, we want to highlight resources, publications, and leaders who are making a difference. Since you are a church leader, community activist, university professor, radio host, author, and resource developer, I knew we needed to connect for this theme. I’d like to start by asking what was your call to ministry like? Was it more like a lightning bolt or a still small voice? Or something completely different?
Dr. Christopher C. Thompson [CCT]: It was actually a little bit of both. It was a bolt of lightning because I had no ministry influences in my family. But it was a still small voice and one of the first times that I know the Lord was speaking to me. The sound of the clarity of God’s Spirit speaking in silence still rings in my heart and mind all these years later.
CM: What’s the relationship between your preaching and writing? Do you see yourself as a writer who preaches or a preacher who writes?
CCT: Excellent question! I see myself as a teacher who preaches. My writing is an extension of my teaching ministry. It’s just one additional way that I get to help people to grow and tackle big ideas.
CM: Why, how, and when did The Growth Network take root? (See what I did there?)
CCT: Quite clever actually. It’s always been my personal mission to help people grow. I formed The Growth Network as a resource development agency to develop resources that people could use on “Monday morning” in the trenches of everyday life.
CM: Can you share more about your journey as a communication professional?
CCT: I was reading the parable of the talents this morning. I’m mindful that one of the things the Lord gave me is the ability to communicate well. I’m mindful of the responsibility to use your gifts to empower others. Therefore, I committed myself to helping churches, organizations and leaders to communicate well and curate impactful messages for their audiences. That work has led me to manage communications for leadership conferences, church organizations, the Breath of Life television ministry, and now as the host for WJOU’s Sunset to Sunset, a 25-year-old radio program with a profound legacy and committed listenership. I’m humbled by such a sacred responsibility. It’s a tremendous opportunity to inspire and encourage people, and that’s what I love to do.
CM: With everything else you have going on, what motivates you to teach? How do you find time for it all? What do you do to refresh yourself and avoid burnout?
CCT: Well, first of all, teaching is the mirror reflection of learning. I am a learner…a certifiable nerd. I love school. I love books. I’m an information hound. It brings me sincere joy to gain new information and insight, then it’s equally satisfying to share that information with others. As for how do I find time? People actually ask me that a lot. I don’t really know. Here’s what I do know. I love what I do, and the work itself inspires me and drives me every day. As for burnout, I try to not to overstay my welcome (if that makes sense). It’s understanding the assignment and knowing when it’s time to exit. Exit meaning for the night or indefinitely to pursue the next assignment. We could talk a lot further about this, but the key is knowing when the clock has expired, and then transitioning gracefully. Whether that means for a short vacation, or to the next paid position. I have been blessed to make those kind of shifts quite intuitively. I’d like to think it’s divine guidance.
CM: Would you tell us a little about your latest book, Choose to Dream: Lessons on Leadership and Living Your Best Life? How is it connected to your work in the community? Didn’t I see an announcement it’s being used as a text for social work students? Please share how that happened as well.
CCT: Choose to Dream is the book that I needed as a young leader 20 years ago. It’s the straight talk that I wish I had about leadership on day one of my leadership journey. One of the things I share on the book is that one of my personal dreams for at least ten years or more was to relocate to my hometown and do quality work in the community that was instrumental in making me into the man I am today. My dream was to give back before I got old and gray and too fragile to make my best contribution. I want to equip leaders with the tools they need to lead well and inspire them that if they can imagine it, then they can build it in their lifetime. I also want to inspire leaders with the idea that mission-oriented dreams are insight into what God wants to see manifest in the world. Pursuing the dream is our responsibility. Fulfilling the dream is God’s responsibility.
CM: Were you nervous about baring so much of yourself between the covers of this book?
CCT: I was, but my focus is the next generation leader who needs it. It was Toni Morrison who said, “If the book you want to read doesn’t exist then you must write it.” If someone had offered me this book twenty years ago, I would have been willing to pay any price for it. My prayer is that the next generation leader will see the pitfalls and challenges and gather the necessary tools to navigate well and thrive.
CM: Thanks again, Dr. Thompson for working us into your overflowing schedule. Choose to Dream definitely captures the “Times of Refreshing” and “sankofa” threads of our ThreeFifths.online theme. Do you have any last words to inspire our audience to nurture their personal growth and pursue their dreams?
CCT: Here’s been my experience. Time flies. When we dream big, what we find is that nothing is impossible. Rather, God uses us to do what seems impossible at first. God opens doors, provides insight, renews and restores us, and so much more. We can always trust God for greater, because “eye has not seen, nor has it entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for His children,” and dreams really, really do come true.
By Carl McRoy