Trust and Respect

From “Black and White: Disrupting Racism One Friendship At A Time” by Teesha Hadra and John Hambrick

Fast-forward several years to my second job. I was (and am) on staff at Buckhead Church, the urban campus of North Point Ministries. Fairly early in my tenure here, two black men, who have since become my friends, approached me independently. They were both relatively new to Buckhead Church, which, at the time, was about 95 percent white. They both asked the same question: What does life at Buckhead Church look like for a black family? They weren’t out to vilify Buckhead Church. They loved Andy Stanley’s preaching. They just wondered if their wives and kids would fit in. I said that I didn’t know, but I wanted to see what we could do. God’s agenda for me in regard to disrupting racism began to shift into high gear.

Fast-forward once more to 2013. I was interviewing people for a full-time position on the Starting Point Staff, a small department I headed up at Buckhead Church. Teesah McCrae (now Teesah Hadra) was the clear front-runner. We hired her, the first black woman to ever be hired on the full-time staff of Buckhead Church. She learned quickly and began to excel in her role. But something else was happening. 

Over the next several months, Teesha and I developed a remarkable level of trust and respect. In my other role at Buckhead Church, director of staff development, I was working to create safe places for the church staff to have conversations about racial issues. Teesha became an invaluable partner in that regard. Like Bobby, she helped me see things from her perspective, which among other things, is a black person’s perspective. She helped me gauge when I might be pushing too hard and when I might not be pushing hard enough. The level of trust between us enabled me to ask some hard questions and allowed her to give some honest answers.