This Is Us

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Monday, March 5, 2018

I’ll confess to being officially hooked on NBC’s “This Is Us.” After hearing it raved about from way too many people, I watched the first episode and… well, like I said, I’m officially hooked.

The title refers to the Pearson family—Jack and Rebecca, and their three kids, Kevin, Kate and Randall. Pregnant with triplets, Jack and Rebecca lose one at birth, and the all-white family adopts an African-American child who had been abandoned at the hospital. That actually does very little to entice someone to embrace how amazing this show is, but it does explain the title. “This Is Us” is a nod to “This is who we are,” “This is what we are about,” “This is our story,” “Yes, we are white parents with a black child—deal with it.”

While it may or may not be the perfect title for the series, it is the perfect title for what a leader does. And what Jack consistently does as a father. A leader is someone who constantly reminds others, “This is us.”

This is what we do.

This is why we do it.

This is the value we are going to embrace.

This is how we are going to treat each other.

This is how we are not.

This is what matters.

This is what doesn’t.

This is the target on the wall.


… is us.

What is acceptable behavior? Is there grace for that? What do we believe? If any group, church, community, organization or business does not know the answer to what defines “us,” that simply means they have not been led.

Because a leader defines “us,”

… and then invites people into it.

James Emery White

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.