2020 has been a year to remember, to say the least. Regardless of the drastic economic changes, the massive disruptions to the business world, an exponentially growing virus that is riddled with unpredictability, at the end of the day, one thing remains; our ability to choose.
Jawane Hilton, a pastor, public servant, family man, and outspoken preacher, has been able to manage the effects of the pandemic in his own professional life, but more importantly, in his ever busy personal life as a parent of three beautiful children.
With his talented and gifted wife, Shonta, they both prescribe to a parenting model and tagline that happens to also govern Jawane’s approach to preaching.
“Learn More & Love Deeply”
As a parent, we have a tendency to want to fix things quickly so we can continue with life and stick to the routine of normalcy. We see this pattern when our children bring up issues while we’re in the middle of something.
For example, if you’re a parent of 3 children, preparing for a camping trip and everyone is busy packing, getting things stuffed into the trunk, and making sure snacks are available for the 4 hour drive, your goal is to leave as soon as possible to beat the traffic. But then your child interrupts with needing to change clothes because she doesn’t like the color of the outfit. As you can imagine, this interruption and deviation from the plan can be quite unnerving. But for the Hilton’s, it’s actually a welcomed scenario.
Jawane and Shonta recognize the child’s deep desire to appease their need to be seen, heard, and understood. Rather than brush it off and stick to the plan, Jawane would choose to “learn more” about what the issue is, listen, attend to the need, then affirm to ensure that everything is good to go before they move on.
When you’re able to LEARN MORE rather than make assumptions, everyone wins. The idea of slowing yourself down in order to understand someone else’s perspective is difficult to do in a fast paced society.
When parents are able to slow down and ask questions of their children to genuinely know more, children respond better and feel more connected.
The same goes for preaching in the pulpit.
Jawane is a dynamic speaker. Extremely insightful in the wisdom he portrays, but he would be the first to admit that his talent is not due to his natural ability. He would attribute his
effectiveness to his desire LEARN MORE about his congregation. The more he understands the plight of their woes, the more passionate he is about delivering a message of hope. The more he embraces various wins in his community, the more passionate he can celebrate with them.
The beauty of this approach is that it is something we can all learn to do. When asked about why he takes this approach, the powerful orator shares “I love my children and I love my church. If I don’t listen intentionally to them, then I don’t deserve to be their leader.”
Which brings me to the second part of Jawane and Shonta parenting model: Love Deeply
We’ve all been there before: When your spouse is sharing about their day and all the drama filled episodes, we sit and nod with a smile on our face but our mind is elsewhere drifting into othersphere unrelated to what honey is talking about.
Although it looks good on the surface because you’ve mastered the nodding on que and “tell me more” responses, it’s bound to crash and burn eventually. Right?
When you truly desire to learn more you essentially are positioning yourself to love deeply at the same time. A posture of curiosity will lead you to a point of care and concern. It simply happens by virtue of association. Learning leads to connection which leads to love.
During this pandemic and at the height of an election year, more and more people need to feel connected. Social distancing has severed any semblance of deeper connection and the economic shutdowns have pushed many to the brink of depression due to the mass layoffs and high unemployment rates.
Learning more about people and truly being interested will foster a sense of care that is necessary for our world today. And the Hilton’s are doing just that in their family life as well as in their church family community.
Leaders like Jawane and Shonta are hard to come by. They are able to slow themselves down to focus on others and do so with a kind spirit and servant heart. I’m grateful for their leadership and model and encourage others to follow along in their examples.