By Cornell Dews
Aye yo, I swear I really needed to hear that leaked tape of Kirk Franklin speaking to his son. It was right on time, for me. I am a Christian. Many years ago, I accepted Jesus Christ as my LORD and Savior. I believe that HE died for me. So I shall live for HIM. It’s been about 20 years since my wife came to me and said, “I want us to start going to church.” And I said to my wife, “that’s cool, I ain’t really doing nothing on Sunday’s anyway.” My wife then said, “that’s the most ignorant thing I ever heard.” I was befuddled. I wondered “was it the most ignorant thing she had ever heard or was it the most ignorant thing that she’d ever heard me say?” If it was the latter, I’m sure I have far exceeded that by now. But I digress. My wife said to me, “we need to introduce our daughters to someone greater than themselves.” I agreed. My wife already had in mind a church that she wanted us to visit. That Sunday, we threw on our best and we preceded to go to church. I didn’t like it. Midway through the service I knew that I wouldn’t return. The following Sunday, my wife got dressed to go to church. I remained in my lounge attire and commenced to do what I had normally done on Sunday mornings, nothing really. My wife came downstairs and asked, “why aren’t you dressed?’ I said, “I’m not going.” Without uttering a word, she went back upstairs, slipped her lounge attire back on and returned, taking a seat next to me. I looked at her and said, “what are you doing”? To which she replied, “I’m not going if you’re not going.” Right at that moment, I felt the burgeoning responsibility as a man to lead my family in our spiritual growth and development. I already knew the church that I was interested in visiting. And I knew the church leader that I was interested in being taught by. I had met Pastor PM Smith and the Huber Memorial Church 5 years prior. That’s another story in itself. However, in 2001 my family and I joined the church, and my wife’s faith and practice has grown exponentially, but I…
Before I continue, allow me to say that I don’t condone any type of abuse. Verbal abuse is just as damaging, if not more damaging to a person than any form of abuse. As it’s been recorded in my pass writings, I’ve been a teacher for more than two decades. I witnessed how damaging a “you’re so stupid” comment from parent to child can be. Sadly, I know the toxicity that leads to parents cursing their children out like sworn enemies. I understand the reverberation of that hurt in our community. My editorial is not about Kirk Franklin cursing his son out per se. That’s personal family business. Instead, what I’m talking about is observing a GOD fearing man revert back.
One week prior to hearing the taped telephone call between Kirk Franklin and his adult son, my wife and I enjoyed watching his NPR Tiny Desk concert. We joyfully watched him and his crew sing contemporary gospel songs. He looked as if he was the happiest man in the world. As a matter of fact, what I felt from watching him, prompted me to lean over and say to my wife, “that can’t be none other than the LORD.” A week later he’s heard cursing his oldest son out and threatening him like a sworn enemy. Immediately I realized, that’s why “he” as in “me” and “we” need the LORD. Look how easy it is, when provoked or unprovoked, to revert back to our old selves. That was my greatest takeaway from that taped phone call. But rather than focus on Kirk and Kerrion, I’d rather suggest that what we witnessed is the battle that all people of faith are torn with.
But GOD. Since I started my walk with the LORD, I’ve been asked countless times, “Cornell, when are you going to allow the LORD to use your gifts and talents for HIM?” The question itself always scared me because I knew that I was still prone to be drawn to partake in worldly things. I was straddling the fence, never fully committing myself because I knew that I wasn’t all the way “right.” I’d think to myself that I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Recently though I realized that it wasn’t just that I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, but it was also the fact that I didn’t want to be held accountable to the highest degree. I, like many people, thought that I had to first correct myself before I could fully commit to serving the LORD. Even though I’ve been told otherwise and personally know that I can’t correct myself, I still was reluctant to submit. About a week ago, a brother from my church came to me and said, “Cornell, I’m stepping down from the ministry I’m on and would like to know if you’re interested in stepping up?” I was hesitant to respond. Thinking to myself, “man, I’m not all the way right yet.” I’m prone to revert back. I called one of my closest and dearest friends since childhood, who has been serving in his church for years. I told him about the opportunity I’ve been presented with to lead. I also acknowledged that I know that I’ve been called to do something greater. I needed to know from him, “how did you do it? How have you elevated in church ministry and maintained being yourself?” He told me that he does it by acknowledging that GOD wants to use him as he is. Imperfect, but perfect to be used.
That’s what I heard in Kirk Franklin when I listened to him break and angrily speak to his son. In my eyes that validated what I as seeking. Here is a man of GOD, that isn’t perfect; however, he has been used for years to spread the gospel, introduce people to JESUS and positively impact lives of people in the kingdom. What the conversation showed me is potentially who he could be at all times, if GOD wasn’t constantly present in his life. I thought to myself, “that’s me.” And that’s what I’ve been using as an excuse to keep me from allowing myself to be used by GOD. I saw Kirk’s breakdown as a lack of judgement, but a completely honest moment. To be frank, he showed us all why we need JESUS more than anything else. It’s evident that when HE isn’t present, “I” am. If I’m left to navigate this world without HIM, alone, with my judgement, and worldly desires my life would be destitute and full of sin. I’d be living in hell. And I’d definitely be running around here calling people “B.A.N’s” myself, every time I got angry. Which would be quite often. But GOD.
So I appreciate Kirk Franklin for his unauthorized moment of transparency. I know that he has issued a public apology. Prayerfully he and his son can resolve all the issues that have manifested between them. For me, as I try to do with all things, I learned from this. And unlike the Christians who are attacking Kirk for not conducting himself in a certain manner, along with the people threatening to cancel him, I can honestly say that I’ve been drawn nearer. I better understand. Imperfectly perfect and useful. I’m ready to be used.
P.S. Man, I done wrote all of that and they just told me that was Plies on the phone. That wasn’t even Kirk Franklin. And I wrote all of this! I’m about to cuss somebody a## out.