I wouldn’t be so ticklish. You tickle someone to get a response or reaction, and in leadership, people will often tickle you through criticism that’s not constructive because it’s coming from people who have never constructed anything. People will also attempt to pull you into their disagreements and fights. I’ve learned just not to be ticklish.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bishop Kevin Foreman.
Bishop Kevin Foreman is a multi-dimensional man who has devoted his life to changing lives. Bishop Foreman spent his formative years in an area riddled with the plight that often accompanies the inner-city. From humble beginnings, through God’s amazing grace, he has defied statistics & transcended superficial boundaries. Today, he is an influential pastor, successful church planter, bishop, success coach, in-demand speaker, author, philanthropist & entrepreneur. Bishop Foreman is the Founder and Chancellor of Harvest Bible College. Pioneering #FitHarvest to promote healthy living in the Harvest movement, Bishop Foreman celebrated successfully shedding over 95 pounds through simple, yet powerful lifestyle changes as a testament to God’s desire for us to walk in His “shalom,” where nothing is missing, nothing is lacking, nothing is broken & all is well.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I planned on going into law, then eventually politics. I also had a passion for teaching and coaching others. Amazingly, I get to do everything I planned to do in what I do now. I influence what happens in policy and politics, I’m a Chancellor of a theological institution, I speak and influence people in both the secular and sacred arenas. I had built a very successful business by the age of 21, and had planned to continue in business for the foreseeable future before getting into law and politics. Eventually, the circumstances were such that I watched the business quickly change and the industry collapse, literally over a weekend. I had to pivot, and that pivot would take me into purpose.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
There are so many interesting stories, from so many different perspectives. One of the most interesting was at a restaurant in Downtown Atlanta, the year I started Harvest, and also the year I became a Bishop. I sat down at the table, and like I normally do, I’m a fairly “take charge, make it happen” type of person. The waitress came to the table, and as I was beginning to tell her what I wanted, she responded “Sir, thank you for that information, but the way we do it here, is we take your order via the form. I immediately remember thinking, “What does she mean, ‘the way we do it here?’ I’m the customer, it should be my way.” She taught me a powerful principle, which was don’t allow anything to get you off of your values. There are so many more stories, but that one always comes to mind first.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the funniest mistakes I made was in overthinking what was necessary for a weekly message. I would spend hours and hours and hours researching content and trying to pack it all into a message. It wasn’t very effective. The lesson I learned was less is more. Simple always wins.
Because I was resistant and hesitant to actually doing this, I remember weeks where I would show a movie instead of teach a message. In my mind, it was out of the box and cutting edge, but the people, they wanted to receive inspiration and information. The mistake taught me that creative should not overshadow content.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
We believe we make our living through our giving. And as a result, we’ve given more than 200,000 pounds of food, more than 129,000 articles of clothing, 3,400 backpacks to students in need, and more than 431,000 dollars to missions.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
There are so many but I am always stirred when I see those who are suicidal and contemplating taking their lives and as a result of coming in contact with myself and organization, they make a decision not to. There is no real price that can be placed on human life, and to see so many people, especially now, struggling with a sense of value, worth and purpose, those stories always shake me to my core. I remember one young man who was literally suicidal and on drugs when he came to us. He would eventually have a complete 180 degree turnaround and began to become one of our most productive volunteers, and eventually staffers. Every time I read his cards, I am reminded about the importance of what we do.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Create conversations. I think conversations are the beginning of transformation in any context.
- Act quickly. Many times, you don’t see change or progress because it takes forever to take action. Consequentially, many people get disenchanted and frustrated.
- Stay the course. Resistance should always be expected when making progress. In fact, you cannot build a muscle without first tearing tissue and allowing it to repair and rebuild stronger than it was. Often resistance becomes a deterrent to seeing your progress. I say, expect the resistance and keep it moving.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I define leadership as getting people to get things done. It’s just that simple. As a leader, I originally had the mentality that I had to know how to do everything. The problem with have to know how to do everything, I just have to know how to get everything done. That means getting the right people in the right seats at the table that have the right skills to make things happen. I may not know how to do graphic design or videography, but I have someone on my team who can execute with precision.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. I wouldn’t be so ticklish. You tickle someone to get a response or reaction, and in leadership, people will often tickle you through criticism that’s not constructive because it’s coming from people who have never constructed anything. People will also attempt to pull you into their disagreements and fights. I’ve learned just not to be ticklish.
2. I would’ve quit the Rescue Rangers. Because of the type of person I am, when I make a commitment to care for someone, and love someone in any capacity, I really mean it. If you take a 100 dollars bill and spit on it, stomp on it, and ball it up, it’s still a 100 dollars bill. This is how I always view people — regardless of what they’ve been through, they still have value. The problem with that mentality is that sometimes, it makes you a Rescue Ranger, trying to save people from things they don’t want to be rescued from.
3. I wouldn’t have left anything that needed to be said, unsaid. I remember when a colleague’s father passed away, and she told me the last thing she said to him wasn’t very nice. And she regretted her last encounter with him, not realized she would never see him alive again. That helped to realize life is precious, and we should never leave anything that needs to be said unsaid.
4. Listen closer. The late Dr. Maya Angelou said “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” I never knew her original quote included the words “the first time” until the last couple of years. Often, when we are dealing with people who aren’t great fits for our future, they tell us everything we need to know upfront, we just didn’t listen. Sometimes, listening is done with our eyes.
5. I wouldn’t make too big of a deal with betrayal and disappointment. Leadership is dealing with people, and dealing with people does involve betrayal and disappointment, and that comes with the territory. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong or that you could have done anything differently. That’s just the seat you sit in.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To be honest, I have toyed around with this concept: the million millennial movement. There is so much talk about generations and the values, qualities, nuances and proclivities of each generation alive. I believe that great change comes from movements because they give momentum to ideas. I believe harnessing the energy that exists amongst millennials into financial change, faith change, and societal change would be amazing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is actually a scripture from the Bible. In Romans 8:28, it says “All things work together for the good of them that love God.” Being someone who has been driven to succeed since the age of 12, I have always liked to win. Here’s the truth — we don’t always win in everything we do. I’ve discovered that even in what I call a loss, it is really a lesson. And if I receive the lesson, it really wasn’t a loss. Therefore, all things work together for my good.
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This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!