A.R. Bernard preaches on the power of self-concept.
|CN PHOTO: Desmond Tan|
In his masterful pedagogical style, A.R. Bernard, who recently turned 57, had the congregation of City Harvest Church enthralled with his teachings over the weekend of Aug. 21 to 22.
This time the founder and CEO of New York’s Christian Cultural Center emphasized the importance for believers to acquire a biblical self-concept in order to reflect God as the underlying crux that underscored his message.
THE POWER OF SELF-CONCEPT
According to Bernard, a healthy (or biblical) self-concept will largely affect and influence how a Christian acts or behaves. Ultimately, said Bernard, choices will create life and determine destiny.
To illustrate the power of self-concept, Bernard presented astounding findings about the people of Israel or Jews, whose national identity and self-concept are greatly influenced by their covenant with God as descendents of Abraham.
Notably, there are 13 million Jews out of a global population of approximately six billion people, constituting a mere one-fifth of a percent of the global population. In America, the Jewish community makes up two percent of the country’s total population. In spite of the Jewish community’s seemingly insignificant size, it is found that out of the top 40 percent of the richest Americans, 45 percent are Jewish.
Other findings show that Jews make up 20 percent of top professors at leading universities in America; 40 percent of top lawyers and partners in leading law firms in New York and Washington, and 25 percent of American Nobel Prize winners.
Bernard attributed the Jews’ distinctive ability to prosper wherever they are placed in the world, and when they are confronted in any given situation, to their deeply entrenched self-concept as a people of God who are destined “to be the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, and to be the lender and not the borrower.”
THE MAN BEHIND THE MESSAGE
Being one of the key proponents of the Christ In Culture teaching, Bernard has been instrumental in the launch of the Cultural Mandate which has become one of the main thrusts that defines CHC today.
City News met up with the man behind the message:
Besides pastoring your flock, you travel around the globe speaking to leaders and churches. What do you indulge in for relaxation during your free time?
I’m a sports person and I love to play basketball and practice martial arts. With my remaining free time, I’m involved in entrepreneurial activities. For instance, together with one of my sons, we will be opening a men’s hair salon. Others in the pipeline are a line of beauty products and a restaurant.
You are a personal friend of New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg. What are your views of his support to the building of the Islamic Center near Ground Zero of New York?
I’m totally behind Bloomberg’s decision in supporting the rights of the Muslim group in this building project. That’s because it is only right to allow the freedom to worship for any religion in America. And to me, it is not Islam that caused 9/11. It is man’s greed for power.
What’s your favorite movie, and why?
It’s The Godfather trilogy. This is a movie that I can keep watching again and again. It is a fascinating movie that reveals so much about leadership, community and family values, albeit a corrupted version. These values, however, can be translated into the context of living a righteous life.
For instance, I recall one or two scenes which had these amazing quotes such as, “I work my whole life—I don’t apologize—to take care of my family” and “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” This teaches us that family is important in our lives.
Share with us an incident that has impacted you significantly even till today.
A significant incident took place in 1985 when I realized that my ministry had become my idol. At that time, I had wrong priorities due to my ignorance. Back then, my marriage was mostly left on the back burner and church ministry took precedence. My wife was constantly competing for my attention with the people I was pastoring. And that was wrong and it caused her to be bitter. It took us 10 years for our marriage to be repaired after I realized my folly. Now I make sure I spend more time with her and my family.
The Bible teaches us that if one cannot manage his own family, how then can he manage or take care of God’s church? And as I shared earlier, family is one of the values of the Cultural Mandate.
Your book Happiness Is… seems to address our generation of consumerism. What prompted you to write that book?
I came across a number of news reports and articles about how Americans were actually growing increasingly unhappy despite enjoying economic success. [The book] actually started as a response to the influence of the American culture on the Church in terms of what true happiness is. It led me to prepare a weekly sermon series on happiness, which eventually led to this book. This book is timeless. You can pick it up at any season or situation and still find it relevant. It is meant to be a life-long reference tool.
I’ve just completed another book which is in fact my journal that will be released by end of this year. Each page, which pans out like a calendar, will include a nugget of wisdom or quote from me which what I like to call “Bernard-ism.”
Another book that is to be released soon is called Chasing Donkeys. Its intent is to liberate us from the traditional search for purpose in life where the mundane day-to-day can actually help us to discover our destiny.