Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Holy Spirit as Leadership Credo

BOND: Do you have a general philosophy that guides your life? And if you do, and I'm betting you that you do, how has it sustained you through challenges or the bad times or moments when everybody's against you and saying you're wrong? How does this philosophy guide you?

RUSH: Well, I didn't realize it until late in my life, but you know, I think that I've always felt that leadership should not be necessarily restricted to popularity or to popular appeal, that you have to do what you think is right. There's got to be integrity in leadership, but now I'm more — I understand it more now that I — I'm taught so much by the gospel of Jesus. I'm taught so much now by the Bible. I realize now that all the times when I have been alone, I wasn't lonely. All the times that I have been misunderstood, that, in fact, you know, I was really following how God wired me up.

You know, in the book of Jeremiah, the first chapter that talks about He knew you before you were formed in your mother's womb. He formed Jeremiah to be a prophet before he was born, and I think that's what God does for all of us. God created all of us for a particular purpose, for particular inclinations, for particular drives. He creates in all of us the capacity to glorify Him, and I think that's where leadership comes from. And I recognize that now. I recognize that all the things from the little barefoot boy in Georgia, you know, who had this love for books and love for reading to Boy Scouts, the Panther Party, SNCC — you know, to the City Council and the Congress, and now pastor of a church, the Beloved Community Christian Church in Chicago, you know, all those things, that's God working with me and through me and leading me and guiding me, so it's really the power of the Holy Spirit. That's where it comes from.

BOND: How did religion become so important to you? I know if we'd had this conversation twenty years ago, I don't think it would've been the same.

RUSH: Absolutely.

BOND: Even though you would've already had that experience in Oklahoma.

RUSH: Sure.

BOND: So, what happened between that experience in Oklahoma and today that made religion important to you?

RUSH: Well, you know, after a while, you're banging your head up ahead a wall so much and then finally you realize something might sink in and I tried it all, man. You know. But I didn't get the — I can't get kind of results that I have that I'm getting now, I don't have the same kind of peace, the same kind of confidence. I don't have the same kind of satisfaction. I mean, I really don't even have the same kind of zeal that I have now. I didn't have it now —

You know, it's something that's amazing about the gospel of Jesus and how when you accept the Lord as your Savior and you really get to doing kingdom work, you know, it inspires you in a way that you never thought you could be inspired before. I thought that by this time in my life, you know — and being a member of the U.S. Congress and thirteen years in the Congress — I thought that I would be able to settle down and live the life of middle class America and go on vacations and stuff like that. And I tried it for a moment and then all of a sudden the Lord took my son away from me. Violence became a real big issue for me, and I heard the Lord say, "You can do more, you can do more, you can — " And I had to come out of that comfort zone and get back into the throes and get back into — on the front line and really, in a way that I've never done it before. And I'm so happy and so — even more, I've got joy in my heart because of this, because —

And I realize as I look back over those years, I said, the Lord — what happened as I reflect back, He was preparing me for this service at this point in time, at this season in my life. He was preparing. All those things was preparation for what I'm doing now and so I just — again, and I'm not being pious or anything like that. I'm far from it — I just believe that it was Him working through my life even from before I was born. He knew that I was going to be where I am right now and doing what I'm doing right now and that's how He wired me up.