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From Lawyer to Lay Leader: A Three-Part Series

Embark on a transformative journey with Brian Lamar Alexander, J.D., a seasoned lawyer who discovered a profound calling as a lay leader on the South Side of Chicago. This three-part series serves as both a personal testimony and a roadmap for those bridging the gap between secular careers and spiritual aspirations. Stay tuned for insights into Brian’s journey, exploring pivotal moments, lessons learned, and empowering takeaways.

All three parts are available to read below:

Part I: Trusting in The Threshing Floor

Part II: The COVID Catalyst and Auditing My Impact

Part III: Deciding to Return and Completing the Circle

Thank you for joining us in this insightful exploration of faith, leadership, and the sacred intersections of vocation and calling.

Part I: Trusting in The Threshing Floor

In every life, there comes a Rubicon—a decision that once made and crossed, changes the trajectory of our existence. For me, Brian Alexander, that fateful moment materialized during the COVID-19 pandemic. The world paused, and so did I. Stuck inside like everyone else, I had a lot of time to think, reflect, and in some respects, “audit my impact.” This led me to ponder the concept of the threshing floor—a place of spiritual and personal transformation, where the chaff is separated from the wheat, the essential from the unessential. For me, that metaphysical space was the South Side of Chicago, the community that had shaped me, and which I now felt called to serve.

Early Beginnings: The Landscape of My Youth

I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, a neighborhood that, like any other, comes with its own set of challenges but also endless possibilities for growth. As a kid, I was fortunate to be mentored by Pastor Corey Brooks at New Beginnings Church, a place that also houses the life-changing Project H.O.O.D. (Helping Others Obtain Destiny). It was within these sacred walls and community streets that my character was molded. My ambitions took me away to Howard University in Washington, DC, where I studied political science, acquired a law degree, and later found employment with the federal government. It was an upward trajectory by all societal standards, but was it meaningful? That question wouldn’t haunt me until years later.

D.C.: The Illusion of Impact

Washington, D.C., is a city where power is tangible—you can practically breathe it in the air. Working for the federal government, surrounded by the sharp minds and influential people who populate our nation’s capital, it’s easy to overestimate your impact on the world. The corridors of power can be seductive, leading one to believe they’re a pivotal cog in a machine of great importance. However, when the world shut down due to the pandemic, I had to confront some uncomfortable truths. I had the chance to “audit my impact,” and I found it wanting.

Part II: The COVID Catalyst and Auditing My Impact

The enforced solitude and quietness that COVID-19 brought with it became a catalyst for soul-searching. As much as I believed in the policies and legal structures that I was a part of in Washington, I had to ask myself: “Was I truly making a difference? Was I impacting lives in a meaningful way?” This is where the concept of “auditing my impact” came to the forefront. I had achieved things, yes, but had I really made a difference? I had a great job, but did it align with my true calling? And this led me to think about my roots—the South Side of Chicago.

Soul-Searching and Faith: Trust Over Understanding

During this time, my faith played a critical role in helping me decipher the signs my soul was giving me. I thanked God for establishing me, for teaching me to have faith not just in turbulent times but also in times of plenty. The words “Trust > Understanding” became my mantra. I didn’t have all the answers, but I had faith—faith that there was more to my life’s purpose than I had so far allowed to unfold.

In the complexities of this decision-making process, I was reminded of the importance of trust. Trust not just in the Divine’s plan but also in my own instincts and capabilities. I felt that the version of myself that would be most useful to God and to humanity was still an uncarved block, waiting to be shaped by experiences yet to come.

A Sobering Realization: The Quest Must Begin

I was 35 years old, and I realized that I hadn’t even begun my true Quest—the mission that would utilize my full potential and enable me to serve at a high level. I had an impressive resume and was surrounded by well-meaning friends, but my life, as it was, felt like an untapped reservoir of possibility. The pandemic, despite its numerous tragedies, gave me the opportunity to contemplate my next steps deeply.

Part III: Deciding to Return and Completing the Circle

It was then that I decided to complete—or at least advance—the work that God had begun in me back in Chicago. While in D.C., I had been sheltered by good intentions but now I knew where I needed to be to grow further. The South Side was not just my past; it was my future. The community had given me so much, and now it was time to give back. It was time for me to use my voice to awaken, to inspire, and to help pave new pathways for others, just as others had done for me.

My Return: A Mission Beyond Words

Deciding to leave D.C. was not easy. Yet, there was a serene simplicity in that decision, like a puzzle piece falling into place. I chose to return to Chicago to accelerate my growth and be of service at a high level, which required what I term as “Disciplined-Surrender”—a kind of devotion that goes beyond mere sacrifice. As the scripture states, we must “die daily” to our lesser selves to be reborn in a form that can serve God and humanity better.

The Journey Home is a Journey Within

So here I am, back in the South Side, back on my threshing floor. I have returned not as the same young man who once left in search of education and opportunities but as someone who has seen the world, gathered experiences, and is now ready to sow the seeds of transformation in his own community. With all its challenges and its hardships, the South Side is where my soul finds its true purpose. I am home, and the quest has only just begun.

In a way, the pandemic served as a global threshing floor, compelling each of us to reassess our paths and purposes. For me, it clarified the voice of my calling, loud and clear: “Come home, serve, and find your truest self here.” As I embark on this next chapter, my message to others is to find your threshing floor, audit your impact, and never be afraid to redirect your path when you hear your calling. For that is where true life begins.

About the Author:

Brian Lamar Alexander, J.D., is a distinguished advocate and strategist with a profound commitment to community development and social justice. Currently serving as the Chief of Staff at Project H.O.O.D. (Helping Others Obtain Destiny), Brian plays a pivotal role in uplifting communities through innovative leadership and effective advocacy.

With a rich background in both the public and private sectors, including significant work at the Department of the Treasury and the founding of the REVOL Studio, Brian brings a wealth of experience in policy development, civic engagement, and strategic planning. His contributions extend globally, having advised political organizations in Africa and the Caribbean.

A recent contributor to the Center for Congregations, Brian’s insights reflect his deep understanding of community dynamics and his commitment to fostering positive change through civic leadership. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Howard University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law.

Brian’s dedication to community service is deeply influenced by his Chicago roots and his diverse professional experiences, making him a valuable voice in discussions on civic engagement and societal advancement.