This write up is never intended to condemn any minister or any ministry; rather, it is inspired to provide a sincere guide and guard for every minister of God on the earth, who is in pursuit of heavenly vision. Vision as we know, is an expression of divine responsibility unto a man or woman for his or her generational service; and every vision that originates from God necessarily come with a PRO-Vision. Thus, no man in pursuit of a heavenly vision is expected to poor, weak, powerless, feeble and stranded – as the LORD God of heaven is always committed to every commission He gives to men. And among the PRO (supports for, aid for, etc.) for the vision of men on the earth is POWER; and this power is of and from God.
So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, "Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?"
He replied, "The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Acts 1:6-8 - NLT
If you look closely at the portions of Scriptures above, you will see that desire for power is actually inherent in human nature (and maybe Genesis 1:26 might give us a clue on the reason for such desire); however, Jesus denied did not shut them up, but He told them the basis for the power, which shall soon be given to them from God. The point is this: Men desires power, and God is aware about it; however, in order to ensure that the power is never abused, He gave them the know-how on how the power will be channeled. And may I say, one of the reasons for abuse of power in Africa today – both in the body of Christ and in the political setup, is because of IGNORANCE – men have suddenly lost touch on the purpose of power; and remember, when the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse of such thing (even if is power or passion) is inevitable.
In the verses above, Jesus told them plainly: the power that shall come from above to you is not for playing (power game), but for witnessing – demonstrating to the world that I am the Christ and I have died for their sins, saving them from the power of darkness and position them in the place of authority in God with Me in the heavenly places! Friend, the power you have been given from the LORD is never meant to bring glory to you; but to God through Jesus. Remember that some people will not believe except them see signs and wonders; and now, the Lord has empowered you to show them signs, wonders and miracles – not that you might be feared, but that God may be feared! The power of God upon your life and ministry is not for your show Sir/Ma, but for the show of Christ Jesus.
And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother's womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice,"Stand up straight on your feet!" And he leaped and walked. Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" ...
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways
Sir/Ma, that power, which makes people to fear you and dread you, was actually given to you to help you preach and teach the gospel of Christ with great power. In 1 Corinthians 2: 4-5, Paul told the people that he ensured when he was with them that his preaching was not to impress them as an eloquent and charismatic preacher, but to demonstrate the power of God to them – you know why, it was because of their FAITH: For he did not want them saved because of his preaching delivery, but by the power of God
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human* wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5
So, as good and faithful servants of Christ, let us use the power that is given to us from God by His Holy Spirit for the sake of Christ – the calling for which Christ has called us. I don’t know your calling, but I do KNOW that the power of God that you hold in custody is for that calling of yours. Please, don’t lord your power over God’s flock any longer, be faithful with your PRO; so that after completing your vision, you will be able to stand before God for your own accounting of ministry on the earth.
But before I end this article, I feel pressed in the spirit to include an extract from a great book written by David Kadalie – “LEADERS’ RESOURCE TOOL KIT”; be blessed as you read it:
You don’t have to move around too much in Africa to come across abuse of power. Actually, this is probably not only a local issue but a global one as well. I was an observer at a consortium that was determined to expose the abuse of power and rigging during a recent presidential election in Madagascar to the International Tribunal in Geneva. The same day I visited and prayed with a school principal what had just received his marching orders from the ministry of education for allowing his teachers and students time off to participate in the process. I have had to give counsel to students who felt totally abused by their rector. We watch and learn from international news networks of the oppression of the marginalized and human rights abuses in other parts of the world.
Africa has a reputation for dictatorial leadership. Many African states have tyrannical regimes. Oppression is the order of the day.News about this continent has always been tainted with coups d’etat and military dictatorship. Opponents are locked up and prominiet politicians brutally murdered. Laws are pushed through parliament to secure election victories. A Kenyan Bishop, Henry Okullu on the subject of political power remarked, “Leadership is personalized and this personalization leads to idolization of the leader to such an extent that people are made to believe that their rights come from the generosity of their leader. In Africa, every ruler becomes an ungazetted king, sitting in an unimpeachable position, ruling supreme and for life.”
Sad to say, too many Christian Ministries in Africa are built on the same instinct to control. One of my staff members remarked that he personally felt that the abuse of power was more acute in churches than in the political arena. Christian workers have observed this in the manipulation and extraction of money from the flock. The imposing of doctrinal views; the excommunication of those who disagree; the immediate transfers of younger pastors to the bush for querying decisions; the wrong notion of those who think that if you are ordained you are ‘untouchable’.
There is definitely a misunderstanding of power in many Christian circles. Power has been given by God for the service of mankind. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in ‘Disillusioned with your church’, critically writes, “ The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of the brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together.”
How do we avoid this trap?
I. Encourage followers to be hearers and doers of the word –“In a spiritually abusive system, the mindset of the people is that they have little or no capacity to discern God’s word themselves…to cause religious performance on the part of the people in order to meet the needs of the leaders, to ‘prove’ that they and their theology are right…Scripture is employed to bolster the agenda of the person using it”. (David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen in “The Subtle Power of spiritual Abuse”).
II. Appreciate that God has given power for service and not control – Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (matthew 20:26). If you study the gospels, then you see that Jesus makes it clear that Christian leadership is grounded in love and that the basis for this is Servanthood, which ultimately leads to freedom for all. In Luke 9:54 Jesus says, those who are regarded as rulers of Gentiles “lord it over them, and their hiogh officials exercise authority over them. Butyou – not so. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servants, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all”.
III. Understand who is in control – In Geoff Rutter’s book ‘Leadership and Management’ he makes a statement, “The NT leaders cannot pull rank because they do not have any”. He also quotes Dr. Louw Alberts: “There are no big shots in the Kingdom of God”. Geoff goes on to say: “The ground is level at the foot of the cross, and the Christian leader’s authority does not derive from position, money, information, personal energy or contacts. Nor is Christian leadership a political power game, an opportunity for dominance or carte blanche for exercising control over others.”.
IV. Assess your motives – Why are you leading? Is it for the benfit of accomplishing God’s purpose on earth through service to others? Jesus makes it clear that those who seek leadership must examine their motives (mark 10:43&44, Luke 22:26).
V. Rein in your authority - Remember that this need to rule, which is inherent in leaders, if not under the control of the Holy Spirit, will lead to dominance, control, abuse, oppression and tyranny. When it is under the direction of the Spirit of God, it will lead to leadership, Servanthood, freedom, development and empowerment, humility and a people-centred focus.
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