"My Mentor is Jesus," says Senate Chaplain Barry Black
- 2004 10 May
"I had no idea that when I was running with gangs that I would find God," said U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, as he spoke to more than 120 congressional aides at a Center For Christian Statesmanship "Politics & Principle" luncheon.
"He [Jesus] filled the emptiness," said Chaplain Black, as he shared his personal testimony of faith in Christ and described how God's grace changed his life.
"I'm just a boy from the 'hood, but I encountered Someone who made a difference in my life," Chaplain Black said. "He walks with me. He talks with me. When I wake up in the morning, He's there. He tells me that He loved me so much that He died a death that no one deserves to die."
Chaplain Black said, "When He cried out 'Tetelestai [it is finished]' He said, 'You have everything you need, Barry Black.'"
As the first African-American Senate Chaplain, Black opens the Senate in prayer each day and is responsible for the counseling and spiritual care of senators, their families, and their staffs-in all, about 6,000 people. He fills his days meeting with senators about spiritual and moral issues and facilitating prayer groups and discussions-such as the luncheon sponsored by the CENTER.
There, Chaplain Black told the group of mostly young legislative staffers that when he was a young man, he had some misguided notions about success. Calling Jesus his spiritual "mentor," Chaplain Black said that Christ taught him success was less about what someone achieves outwardly (e.g., degrees, honors, high pay) and more about what they gain inwardly (e.g., a purified heart).
"We often miss success because she comes disguised in work clothes," explained Chaplain Black, who holds the outwardly successful titles of rear admiral (ret.), pastor, chaplain, and Ph.D. He went on to share three principles Jesus taught him about inward achievement. The first principle is "external discipline."
Chaplain Black said that Christians don't discipline themselves to spend time alone with God reading the Bible, praying, and memorizing Scripture. They reason that they just don't have enough time to commit to such things.
"Practice external disciplines," said Chaplain Black. "Jesus found enough time to save the planet ... that basic principle has transformed my life."
Second, "My mentor, Jesus, taught me to diminish an appreciation for self," explained Chaplain Black. "It's about others ... not that man or that woman in the mirror."
Last, "My mentor taught me to cultivate ethical congruence. Live in such a way that your actions can be made universal law. That is ethical congruence."
The Center's Executive Director George Roller said that, "In Leviticus, chapter 11, God says 'consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.'"
"The Lord is telling us to set ourselves apart from the world-to practice righteous living. What Chaplain Black taught all of us at the luncheon is how to be holy and what that looks like practically."
"One of our goals is to teach Christians on Capitol Hill how to live a life that glorifies God," said George. "Chaplain Black was a huge help in teaching that holiness is not just something you talk about, but something that you do."