They said I wouldn’t make it…

| March 17, 2015
Lakeya Stewart

The Rev. Lakeya Stewart

By the Rev. Lakeya Stewart

Have you ever heard the song “I’m still holding on” by artist Luther Barnes featuring the Rev. F.C. Barnes and the Rev. Janice Brown? The beginning of the words of the song go like this:

They said I wouldn’t make it.

They said I wouldn’t be here today.

They said I would never amount to anything.

But, I’m glad to say, that I’m on my way,

And I’m growing more and more each day.

I love music and I believe lyrics/words can touch the heart and spirit of a person. Numerous places in scripture records music being used to reach people whether to gather groups or to soothe them. Music has power. That is all good and dandy but has anybody wondered who THEY are (in the song) and who gave THEM authority to speak into our lives and to control them? Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it, shall eat the fruit thereof.” Who are these people who are speaking death into our lives and more specifically into our present situations?

I am so-o-o glad that you have asked! THEY are “church folks” who aren’t to be confused with children of God. There is a distinct difference between people who attend worship services weekly out of routine versus those people who have a personal relationship with God. This relationship with God is not contingent upon a few hours spent in a building each week. The difference sometimes boils down to relationship versus religion.

The phrase “church folks” when I use it refers to people who believe God for a new home or car, and who often refuse to use the blessings to help out others (i.e. by providing transportation to church, or housing a displaced family). These people are often self-centered and feel that their personal success is all that is important. This is a sad reality for many in the African American community that once banded together to ensure everyone in the community had needs met like transportation. Just think of the Montgomery Bus Boycott that was sparked after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a European American individual. Members in the community with transportation banded together and organized rides for those who would normally use the public transportation system. Talk about the power of unity, versus individual achievements.

We see the “they” (referred to in the song) in every community, but I speak from my African American context and experience.

Too often, I see people in my community plagued with the “crab mentality.” This “crab mentality” is characterized by the mindset that says, “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” The symbol associated with the “crab mentality” is a proverbial crab pot.

At the bottom of this pot are a bunch of crabs (humans) who cannot crawl up and escape “the pot” or life’s circumstances alone. With the assistance of the other crabs in the barrel, or working together, all of the crabs or the majority of them could very easily escape. Unfortunately, the crabs in this proverbial barrel are all fending for themselves.

The words of the song made us reflect and think of the “they” folks in our lives. The great thing about this song is that it doesn’t end with the negative thinking. I love how the latter lines of the portion of the song written above interjects a conjunction—the word BUT. Who would have thought that such a small word “but” would be so powerful?

After the conjunction, but, are two powerful statements. 1) But, I’m glad to say, that I’m on my way, 2) And, I’m growing more and more each day. This song speaks to me. It tells me that despite what THEY say, God’s voice and presence in the lives of those that seek Him can outweigh any negative thinking or negative words spoken by others.

Studying the Word of God, praying, fasting, seeking Godly counsel, and godly friends makes developing a personal relationship with God easy. When the world says you can’t do something, or that you will never make it, God says you can and you will. We must only continue to hold on. On this week, I challenge you to consider this question, “Who in my life is speaking negativity into my life?” Be blessed.

—Rev. Stewart

For questions or further correspondence concerning future topics or speaking engagements, please email at

The Rev. Dr. Lakeya Stewart, M.Div. D.Min., ABD attended Berea College and the Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky and earned a double major B.A. degree in Sociology and in African & African American Studies as well as the Master of Divinity Degree. The Rev. Stewart currently serves as the director of spirituality/chaplain for Signature Healthcare in Bluffton, Ind. The Rev. Stewart is currently writing a dissertation on pastoral leadership through Regent University.

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Category: Local, Spiritual Matters

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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