(Editor’s note: With clergy from across the country on hand Sept. 18 for a spirit-filled installation ceremony for Rev. Reginald Wayne Sharpe, Jr., as senior pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, founded by the late legendary Rev. Dr. Clay Evans, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered words of guidance and inspiration to the incoming pastor and for all who wish to be servants of God and His Christ. His brief message was delivered via Zoom, carried on several online platforms, and his edited remarks are presented below.)
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
I bear witness that there is only One God, and I bear witness that One God is the Master, the Teacher and Sender of all prophets who came in his name. I bear witness, not only to the Oneness of God, but to the Oneness of His prophetic flock. And therefore I am so honored to be here at the installation of my wonderful brother, friend and minister, the Reverend Reginald W. Sharpe, Jr.
Dear beloved brothers and sisters, Rev. Sharpe asked me to be a part of this service. I have a few words to say to my brother on his journey, but first I want to thank God and His Christ for the Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson who introduced me to the Reverend Dr. Clay Evans. I pray that Almighty God will bless Rev. Jackson and his beloved wife to overcome whatever frailties they have contracted to be made whole so we can see and hear them again.
But in the meantime, my thanks to Reverend Jackson because he introduced me to Reverend Evans and he introduced me to the beauty of the Black Church. So here I am in one of the greatest churches that I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of under Reverend Evans, under Reverend Charles Jenkins, and now to salute Reverend Sharpe and to give him a good sendoff.
You cannot be a great leader until you become a great follower. Because in this church, in particular, Reverend Clay Evans was a great follower and disciple of Jesus the Christ.
So we want our new minister to pattern after a noble example that we have found in Reverend Dr. Clay Evans. Rev. Sharpe, you have all the tools to be a great servant of Jesus Christ. When I was a young minister coming into the Nation of Islam, my teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, wanted me to become a great minister. So he laid out three principles that if I minded them carefully, I would be a great minister. We must remember, Reverend Sharpe, that Jesus said he didn’t come into the world to be ministered unto. He came into the world to minister, to serve.
So he said, whoever would be chief among you, or leader among you, let him be your servant. So the ministry of Reverend Dr. Clay Evans and Reverend Jenkins before you were ministries of great service, as was the ministry, and is the same as the ministry of Jesus Christ himself. So can’t serve if you don’t love. So Jesus laid down a principle: Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friend.
To be a friend of Jesus is to be a disciple of Jesus and obedient and disciplined to the moral character of the master of this house.
So my teacher wanted me to be a good minister, and I have to tell you I’ve been in the ministry now for 65 years. I didn’t turn out too bad. But the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, three things you must watch, if you want to be a great minister. Number one, the enticing beauty of women. Number two, the lust for filthy lucre or riches received, and gotten by unclean means. And third, watch out for poverty. Because these three are the great trials of ministers.
When you represent God, the female is not the woman of man she’s the woman of God. So when we stand up in His name and preach His word with the wisdom, strength, commitment and spirit of that word, the women of God adore the man of God. They love the man of God. They desire to be a friend to the man of God. But the men of God must never take advantage of the wonderful love showered upon us by the women of our congregation and the women of our following. Because if we break this principle and fall victim to the enticing beauty of a woman then our ministry is on a trajectory down.
The second principle: lust for filthy lucre. Because when we are men of God in a wicked society, the wicked society wants to use the man of God for a purpose that is not necessarily of God. So if politicians see value in you, be careful that they don’t offer you something that will corrupt you in your ministry for Jesus the Christ.
In my young days in the ministry, I was very careful of people giving me things. Sometimes they mean so well. And sometimes they’ll give you a gift to gain a measure of control. One thing about a servant of God, he must only be controlled by God and the discipline of Jesus Christ.
And the third thing that we must watch for is poverty.
I don’t know that as ministers we take a vow of poverty. But when you are poor, destitute of those things that will allow you to live a good life in front of the people as an example of what Christ does for those who are good shepherds, when God tries you with poverty that’s your big test. Because you won’t always find in your ministry that you are well off. And when you are not as well off as you thought you would be by being a minister Jesus Christ said, don’t worry about your bread, don’t worry about your coat. Your coat is out there with the people. Your bread is out there with the people. The house you may want is out there with the people.
And if you are a good fisher of men, Peter said catch the fish, you’ll find in their mouth a coin. You take that coin, be sure to give some to Christ first and second for yourself. A good pastor is a good pastor whether he has money or not. Because we didn’t come into the ministry to get rich, we didn’t come into the ministry to have all the fine things of life. But if you minister well and go through the trials that every minister must go through, you will have the best that the world has to offer and you’ll have the promise of the hereafter and the riches in the kingdom of God.
So my dear brother, minister, I know that my brother, my friend, my pastor, the Reverend Dr. Clay Evans would rejoice over you if you take the words that your little brother, Louis Farrakhan, sends out to you. I love you much dear brother and any of you in the audience that are in the ministry of Christ I love you as well. But we must do the work of being a good shepherd for the sheep. Then God will bless you with all things you may desire.
But your greatest desire should be to make a true follower for Jesus the Christ. And you cannot make anyone that which you are not. So we in the ministry must live up to the discipline that Jesus laid down for us. Then as a good disciple, we will make others follow our example. So blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom. The ministry of Christ in a world like this is not easy, for if we would be his disciples, we have a cross to bear. Rev. Sharpe, you have a cross to bear.
But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, blessed are yea when men shall revile you, persecute you, say all manner of evil against you for my sake. This part is difficult: He said but rejoice and be exceedingly glad for so did they the prophets that were before you. Great is your reward in heaven.
Rev. Sharpe, my dear and beloved brother, be the great minister that you are called to be. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your brother as you love yourself. Let the love of God guide every word you speak, every task you take upon yourself to do, let Christ be your guide and you are on your way to be with him in the paradise that your good work shall have earned for you.
Be kind and loving to your wife because she’s bearing this burden with you. Be faithful to your loving wife, and as a loving wife make friends for your husband in his ministry by being a good servant and a good disciple yourself. Thank you so much for allowing me these few moments. To Mother Ludella, and all the mothers of this great house of God, I think God for each one of you that I’ve had the pleasure to meet.
And to Rev. Sharpe: They say a fisherman does not rejoice in the catch of another fisherman, but when you came to Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, someone did some work before you got here. Someone fished and gave you an audience. So be kind and loving to the elders of this house that were here when my dear brother and pastor Clay Evans got it started, some are still at Fellowship.
Hold on to them, keep them close. But work hard to add to the elders the new ones, particularly the young people in the streets of Chicago. You’re a young, strong, handsome preacher. Go on preacher and bring the world to God through Christ and fill every seat in your church with fellow Believers like yourself.
God bless you. God keep you. God make His face to shine upon you, give you peace and make you successful to put Satan to a perpetual flight by the beauty of your submission to God, and your following of the Christ and the work that you do in their names. Thank you for allowing me this privilege, thank you Fellowship, thank you pastors, thank you all. Peace be unto you. As-Salaam Alaikum.