For the past few weeks, I have been writing about How to be a genius. I have been fortunate to meet genius men and women in their field and over the next few weeks, I will be interviewing them to see how we can learn from them and operate in our own genius.

How to Become a Genius course

Just as a reminder here is the definition of Genius:

Gen means that which produces. “Ius” means made of or belonging to. It comes from the Latin word Genius which means innate ability. Then later it changed to exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability. Genes produce the body and its physical traits.

Bob Duggan the founder of Genius Inc said this, “I like to think gene refers to our material embodiment and genius refers to our spiritual embodiment.”

This week we follow Dr. Jamal Bryant the genius.

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Dr. Jamal Bryant is one of the greatest speakers of our generation. When thinking of individuals that I know personally that operate at a genius level he was the first to come to mind. I met Dr. Bryant over 20 years ago, who I warmingly called Jamal. But with his massive success and earning a doctorate in theology and world renown acknowledgment for being one of the greatest ministers of our time, since our meeting with respect, I no longer do so. He is Dr. Bryant and the African American community hears him when he speaks and they hold his words and his demand that they have faith and live better lives with reverence and honor. He is an opinion leader and trusted by the community to not only lead them but to protect their rights.

When I first heard him speak. He reminded me so much of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he stood at the podium without fear at the young age of 26 years old. At the time he was the Youth Coordinator of the NAACP. He was such a determined individual. Working with the intention to help the young Black Community and change the minds of society as    Dr. King did. I recall singing at a march on Washington where he spoke and as his voice raised loudly calling for civil rights you could see eyes light up and people be injected with hope.

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Dr. Bryant is a third generation Pastor. His grandfather, father, and mother are all preachers. He preached his first sermon at the age of 18 years old. Born a preachers kid Dr. Bryant was destined for greatness. He earned his undergraduate at Morehouse College and his Masters of divinity at Duke University and his doctorate of ministry degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation. He also studied at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

I have watched him use his genius traits for the last 20 years and I became curious to know how he combines his genius with his faith. He led a very large church in Baltimore and recently he left to become the Pastor of a mega-Church in Atlanta. There were 138 ministers who applied for the new position to replace Bishop Eddie Long.

I remember when he started his own ministry in the year 2000 with 43 members. That ministry grew to 10,000 members. And as the founder of his own ministry, he resigned. He says that change is never comfortable but it must be done.  While taking this next big step in life we observe him applying Genius trait #9 Willingness to take chances.  I find it very fascinating that the largest civil rights movement to take place in history took place in Atlanta Georgia. And Dr. Bryant heads there to continue his pursuit of justice for the Black community. He leads the forefront for Black lives matters and continues to blaze the trail set by Dr. King.

He was kind enough to answer questions for me to help my readers learn more about applying genius traits in our lives.

1– I have had the honor of watching you grow in your field. I have seen you progress in your life from having a dream to actually manifesting it into reality. Many people are called by God but not all of them can start businesses and actually carry out such a magnificent job of helping the community and facilitating great change. You have not only started a mega church you have started a charter school and also a health clinic.

What motivates you to actually do what you say you will do? Genius trait #1 Drive. Geniuses have a strong desire to work hard and long. They’re willing to give all they have got to a project.

Dr. Bryant: Many years ago, my mentor told me that you only have two things in your life; your image and your integrity. And far too many people put stock in their image but make no investment in their integrity. So I try to make sure that my integrity always outweighs my image. It’s a basic business principle. Don’t let your PR outweigh your production. It’s like you’re advertising what you don’t have.

Dr. Bryant: Can you imagine going to McDonald’s and they’re saying they’re out of fries? It’s because their PR was too strong for their production. So I want to always make sure whatever it is that I say, I follow through on.

2- How does a person who is a very devout Christian also understand the importance of actually operating at Genius level and understanding the principle that God helps those who helps themselves. You are a testimony of this. Genius Trait #10 Dynamic Energy Do not sit waiting for something to happen. Be determined to make it happen.

Dr. Bryant: I think that there is absolutely no way you can be Christian and embrace ignorance. Everything that Jesus talked about in terms of transformation and conversion was mental. We have reduced it to being emotional. Jesus in the gospel never asked for our heart. He asked for our mind. He said, “You are transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And most churches make the appeal give Jesus your heart because they want your feelings, but they don’t want your thinking.

Dr. Bryant: In order for you to replicate who God is, you have to begin to think like him. It’s by no accident there are over 200 hills in Jerusalem, but when Jesus was crucified, he was crucified on a place called Golgotha. That word, Golgotha, means the skull. When you then look at it from an aerial perspective, Jesus died for my mind. So his reason for crucifixion was not for me to get a car, not for me to get a house or a job, but so that I could wake up this morning with my mind stayed on him.

Dr. Bryant: And so it’s the responsibility of those of us who follow Christ to make sure that we have precision in thinking.

3- How hard was it for you to keep your personal integrity and leave the Church you founded to Pastor a Church in another City with a bigger congregation?  Did you receive any backlash for this and how did you apply Genius trait #22? Individualism Do things the way you think they should be done, without fearing somebody’s disapproval and Genius trait #20 Adaptability Being flexible enables you to changing circumstances readily, Resist doing things the same old way. Be willing to consider new options.

Dr. Bryant: The integrity of my call is of such that I followed a biblical model of Abraham where God said to him, “Leave everything you know. Leave your parents and go to a place that I will show you.” The misnomer is that me leaving my church was an elevation. It was not. It was a sacrifice. I went to a bigger building. I did not go to a bigger congregation. I went to a bigger debt. I went to bigger issues. And whenever it is that God calls you, it is to greater risk. Faith is not synonymous with safe. If it’s safe, God’s not in it.

Dr. Bryant: I just finished 18 years at Empowerment Temple in Baltimore and easily I could’ve ended my career with another 18, but it really was not the call of God on my life. John Eldredge wrote a book called The Call to the Wild that every man must have a battle to face, a challenge to endure, and something to love. If they don’t have those three, their manhood is incomplete. And I was feeling that I was going back to boyhood wonderment because I was too comfortable at Empowerment and God had to give me a challenge that would make me a man.

4- You have been divorced and faced some backlash in the media. I have heard you say your mother has been praying very hard for you regarding the fact that you are a bachelor. How have you been able to stand in the face of the fire of your past and move forward with full determinism? Applying Genius trait #2 Courage -doing things others consider impossible. And not worrying about what they will think if you are different. You have had great success in your life. How has applying Genius trait #5 Honesty, helped you?

Dr. Bryant: Yes. I come through a past where my successes are as high as my failures and the grace of God that is on my life is that I’m mindful over one of the former presidents of America said, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, “If you ever want to see a great success, look for a great failure.” So the evidence of God’s hand on my life is that in spite of all of my failures, the successes I have don’t match my character. It matches the grace of God.

5- You have had great success in your life. How has applying Genius trait #5 Honesty, helped you? Geniuses are frank, forthright and honest. Being willing to admit you goofed and learning from your mistakes. 

Dr. Bryant: Honesty has helped me in discovering genius because it was the Greek philosopher Aristotle that says, “The more I know, the more I know how much I don’t know.” It is only ignorant people who think that they know everything. That’s why you have to always be enrolled as a student of life. Ever learning, ever reaching, ever grasping. And so I honestly don’t know what I am doing as pastor of New Birth in Stonecrest, Georgia, but I honestly know that God knows a plan and he’s going to use me to pull it together.

6- Please share with my readers your goals. I feel you are a trailblazer and will make a great impact during your new endeavor. How will you use this position to change the World for the better? What would you like your legacy to be? Genius trait #23 Idealism keeping your head on the ground but your head in the clouds striving to achieve great things. NOT JUST FOR YOURSELF BUT FOR THE BETTERMENT OF MANKIND. And Genius trait #24 Imagination Geniuses know how to think in new combinations. Seeing things from a different perspective than anyone else, Using imagination like a child. Daydreaming with freedom and without fear. 

Dr. Bryant: I think my legacy in coming to New Birth church is that this is a marriage made in heaven to show how a pastor and a people can both rebound. We always talk about a phoenix, but the 21st century hasn’t seen one. How do you rise from the ashes? You can only rise from the ashes if you’ve been burned to death. Both New Birth and I have gone through the flames of opposition, through controversy, through scandal, but the grace of God has kept both of us abounding.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all you are doing. And setting a good example. You have inspired me to dream big. Follow my dreams. Forgive myself for my past mistakes and applying genius traits in my life to accomplish my own goals. 

We will continue to learn from you and look forward to all the great work you are doing to help the World be a better place.

 How to Become a Genius course

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