In a loosely structured memoir, a Southern pastor presents his own struggles in order to help other pastors.
Seawright (More Than Bricks and Mortar, 1996) courageously documents how he rose from the son of poor sharecroppers in South Carolina to become a successful pastor, the leader of a dozen businesses and a candidate for bishop. At 21 years old, he began preaching at the African Methodist Episcopal Church. His hardscrabble past fuels his need to succeed, and he tries to meet all the demands of his congregation. Great achievements—such as overseeing the building of a new church—ended in multiple burnouts; the ongoing stress led to two heart attacks, marital difficulties and a case of workaholism. Although he candidly recalls his bouts with physical and emotional distress, he favors generalizations over highly detailed accounts, wisely steering clear of confessional indulgence. True to the teachings of Jesus, he maintains a humble tone when recalling how a reliance on counselors, a pastor support group and, of course, God helped him stop “wandering aimlessly.” All helped guide him as he put boundaries in place to balance his family life with the needs of his church. Seawright managed to refocus his life and continue on to deal with life’s challenges, including one of his most difficult trials: the death of his mother, who raised him and his six siblings by herself, and always encouraged him to try his best without fear of failure. Personal prayers that the author wrote to himself during tumultuous times—as well as some of his favorite poems and quotes from Langston Hughes and C.S. Lewis—help underscore the honesty and openness of the author’s recollection.
Self-help intended for religious leaders but equally suitable for the laity looking to balance the demands of work and life.