How I Balance Life as a Black Pastor and Police Officer

I serve as a police officer and I serve as a pastor--professions that both involve the act of 'saving'--in one role, my focus is saving lives and in the other...saving souls. It is a charge that I have been given and a God-given mandate that has been placed on my life. Everyday I operate in both capacities.

Although both roles are challenging professions that can ignite the assumption of perceived perfection--there is nothing perfect about either title and there is nothing perfect about me. Overall the experience, while taxing, requires a strong system of support, prayer, understanding, and acceptance. The responsibility that accompanies both professions puts me consistently under a microscope--forcing every move in my life to be calculated because there are souls and lives at stake. While juggling all things at all times is not always an easy task, I find it rewarding to know that at the end of the day I did my best to change someone's life for the better. I wear a lot of hats, but I am still human, with human emotion and every day that I serve, in the pulpit or in the streets, I am still a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, and so many other things to so many different people. I can't be all of these things without a strong support system and that support system is an essential resource that keeps me balanced. I have been blessed with solid friendships that provide me with accountability and a true frame of reference. Surrounding myself with those I trust most and who know me best is something that is very important to me. To be able to relax and not be perceived based on my professions, gives me an outlet and allows me to release some of the many stresses that come with being a police officer and pastor. It provides the perfect balance to my life.

Balance is definitely something that I value immensely and another instrumental component of maintaining the balance in my life is prayer. I believe prayer is the driving force behind accomplishing what I have thus far, and taking advantage of such wonderful opportunities such as being on Oxygen's "Preachers of Atlanta." I can say that I have been blessed with a solid team that helps me accomplish goals, not only through meeting the needs of everyday operations of our ministry, but by covering me in steadfast prayer. I have people that understand my struggles appreciate their tireless efforts to help carry the load by praying for me. One of my main passions is molding strong leaders, adopting strong and effective leadership models, and equipping the team with what they need to make things happen. Wisdom has taught me that in order to balance the life of pastoring and policing I need a strong team of prayer warriors that will keep me covered.

'Understanding' is defined by Merriam Webster dictionary as the knowledge and ability to judge a particular situation or subject and a willingness to understand people's behavior and forgive them. This definition is so profound to me and speaks to my overall position in life. When the pressure is highest and I am responsible for making important decisions, I am blessed to know that my wife, family and friends can know that I do so, keeping in mind the weight that these decisions hold in affecting other people's lives and our own lives as well. I understand that serving as a Pastor and a police officer comes with the responsibility of staying consistent in my efforts and although I do try my best in that regard, I am not perfect and I may act in imperfect ways some times. Even in those imperfect moments, when I am simply being Corey and not in the mode of Pastor Corey or Sergeant Hambrick, I see the perfect grace of God through continued understanding of not only those that are closest to me, but also the community of people that also wear these same hats.

Acceptance from others is also an important factor to keeping me balanced. Knowing that I am not alone in these perceived perfect roles helps to give me strength to continue forward. It helps to know that there are brothers and sisters in Blue and of the cloth that I can reach out to for wisdom and guidance. Needless to say, I can't be Pastor Corey and Sergeant Hambrick by myself. It takes a powerful God to keep me grounded, a strong support system to remind me of my positions, a solid team of prayer warriors that help keep the ground covered, and understanding and acceptance to keep me on the ground in a continued effort to do my part in seeing souls and lives saved.

I think back to when I was involved in an altercation some time ago that caused me to use deadly force on a young man who had attacked his mother with a knife. Upon me arriving on the scene the young man was in the act of stabbing his mother. When I came into contact with him and gave him an order to put the knife down, he proceeded to charge at me. At this critical moment I had to think under fire and I made a decision to stop the threat that was charging towards me. I was forced to shoot the young man, but I made the decision to shoot him only to disable him and eliminate the threat. I did not kill him, but I was still a Pastor who had just shot a man. Although this situation was a rare one, it is still a possible situation that I must be prepared for every single day. I have threats coming at me from so many directions because my whole purpose is under attack. My purpose of saving souls through pastoring and saving lives through policing is subject to those that judge, and spew their hatred towards these two professions, not because of their own fault per se, but because of the hurt they may have experienced from individuals who carry the responsibility of either role.

When looking at this situation it can be perceived in a plethora of ways. To some hearing about this incident, I was just another police officer that shot someone. To other police officers, I was doing my duty of protecting and serving the community. To some overly religious people, I was a Pastor that had used deadly force. To my family, I was a father and husband who made sure I made it back home safely. To others in the community, I saved a mother from being murdered by her son, and to some I was a hero. No matter what the opinion was, it all boiled down to the perspective. The bottom line to serving as a Pastor and a Police officer is perspective. Although blurred at times, balance comes in knowing the exact perspective in which I serve and make decisions for that moment, and that ability only comes from one single source- God.