Please welcome me in joining Brayn Loritts to the Live Richly Spotlight. I first encountered Bryan when he spoke at the Global Leadership Summit earlier this year and ever since that time, I’ve been inspired by his wisdom.
Bryan is the Lead Pastor at Fellowship Memphis, a multi-ethnic, gospel centered, church in Memphis, Tennessee. He is a phenomenal speaker and I would encourage you to watch some of his sermons and speeches.
When you hear the word rich, Bryan, what does that mean to you?
“That’s one of those words. It depends on the context, rich? Fundamentally, rich has to do with an abundance of something. You can be rich in many ways.”
So, Bryan, how do you see that coming to life in the Scriptures?
“Jesus taught, ‘What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?’ He taught parables about the rich landowner, stories like the rich man and Lazarus. I think the very important thing to note is that the Bible is not anti-wealth.
There’s Abraham, there’s Joseph, there’s Daniel. All of these men were extremely wealthy. In the New Testament, there’s Philemon who had a house
The Bible is anti-loving money. It’s a stewardship issue. All that I have comes from God, not just the ten percent I give back to him. The Bible teaches us to be rich toward God. I see three things when it comes to money: Gain it, Give it, and Grow it.
In all of that, the most important thing is how we are rich in our spiritual life.”
As I’ve learned about richness, Bryan, I had to see my own brokenness. How have you learned about brokenness?
“At the end of the day, brokenness is a great thing. I think a case can be made that, in the Bible, God has allowed people to be broken before using them in significant ways. I think brokenness is necessary for maximum fruitfulness. Take Moses, he goes from the palace to tending sheep in Midian for forty years. Then, God shows up and says, I’m going to use you to shepherd my people.
Take David, scholars tell us that about fifteen years went by after he was anointed but before he became king.
Take Jesus, thirty years of anonymity. He’s hiding out in a podunk village called Nazareth.
Take Paul, he pleads to God to take his thorn away from him.
God refused to use many people in significant ways before he allows them to be broken first so that they will be completely dependent upon him.
The scariest person is not the gifted person, it’s the incredibly gifted person who’s not broken. Success is more of a danger than failure. If you have success without failure, you’re a train wreck waiting to happen.:
I think a person’s greatest passion is born out of their greatest pain. If you want to know what you’re supposed to be doing, take an inventory of your pain.”
Invest in Others is our second principle. Tell us about someone who has invested in you.
“All that I have and all that I am can be attributed to others looking out for me. It began with my own father who discipled me. I think what you’re getting at is what the Bible calls discipleship. There have been many who have played this role in my life. To this day, I’m committed to recruiting mentors. I never want to stop learning, growing, and being challenged.
Bryan, tell us a little bit about your work on Letters to a Birmingham Jail
“Letters to a Birmingham Jail is a play on his famous letters from a Birmingham jail. He actually wrote that letter in response to clergy who were embarrassed about Dr. King coming to Alabama. They were pretty much asking him to be passive. In Dr. King’s letter he was actually telling them why he couldn’t wait.
This project is a culmination of current clergy today, guys like John Piper and Matt Chandler, writing in memory of Dr. King saying, ‘Thank you for not waiting.’ I think today when we talk about racism, we’re not talking about lynching and the KKK, we’re talking about being passive. I think people need to be intentional about investing in others regardless of their skin color or what side of town they live on.”
Bryan, I’m opening the door for you to talk about being grateful.
“One of the most perplexing things in the Bible is the letter that Paul wrote, from jail, to the Philippians. The dominant theme of it is joy. I’ve got a friend of mine who is in jail and when I’ve gone to visit him as a free person, I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out how to lift his spirits.
Philippians is interesting in that it is written by an incarcerated person, telling the free people to have joy. I think he could do that because he refused to be mastered by his circumstances. I think his joy was birthed out of his faith and his gratitude to a God who saved him by grace.”
“I just returned from India and I saw poverty that we, as Americans, can’t imagine. It slaps you in the face and rebukes you for the silly things we complain about. Gratitude begins with a deep-seated humility in which you are cognizant that God has been good to you and you might not have everything you want, but you have everything you need.
Without gratitude we’re dealing with self-righteousness and entitlement.”
Sometimes you have to choose gratitude in spite of how you feel. What do you think about that?
“That’s really one of the major ideas that C. S. Lewis expressed: ‘Do the act and the feelings will follow.’ I think the Biblical takeaway is: Always let what you know trump how you feel. Truth is more important than feeling.”
Bryan, how can you have confidence and humility?
“C. S. Lewis said the fountainhead to all sin is Pride. All sin flows from, ‘I want to be exalted.’ That’s a fundamental thing. When a person lies, they want to make themselves appear better in someone else’s eyes. Tim Keller calls this the sin beneath all sin. If that’s the common denominator to all sin, then daily, we have to wage war with pride. The anecdote to pride is humility.
Andrew Murray wrote extensively on this in a book called Humility. I try to read often.
But humility is not timidity. Timidity is a form of pride. The timid person is so concerned how others perceive them that they don’t assert themselves at all.”
In your own life, what is something that reminds you of richness?
“I think giving yourself away, that whole investment thing you talk about. The most satisfying thing a person can do is to take the lessons they’ve learned through successes and failures and pass those on to the next generation and see them thrive.
In my twenties and thirties, I was so stinking busy competing and trying to make my mark that I didn’t help many people. Now, I get more joy shaping a half-dozen men sitting around a table than I do speaking to thousands.
I think the key is moving from impact to influence.”