Showing posts with label Leadership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leadership. Show all posts

Monday, 11 April 2016

Boaz's Kinsman-redeemer and elders' transparency

At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, "Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it." Ruth 4:6 NIV.

This is the second to the last post we are writing on this series. The first post dealt with the moral strength of Boaz which is indispensable in our lives as leaders if we are to finish strong in this ministry the Lord has committed into our hands. The tragedy that has come upon us as a generation is a situation where sex is promoted and advertised as if it is normal for everybody that wants sex to have sex, no matter your estate, whether married or not. We are even being bombarded with advertisements of sexual perversions and unnatural sexual affections and in some cases hounded to accept them as normal no matter what we believe. This has made most church leaders to accept what seems to be the 'lesser evil' - just having sex is not the worst thing after all. Hence, among church members and even leaders, every now and then, sexual scandals hit us, as it were, below the belt. Boaz showed character in his dealing with the young beautiful lady, Ruth.

In the second post, God taught us that we should not take the opportunities the enemy presents to us, no matter how cheap they may seem. As leaders, we should also be careful in our dealings making a conscious effort to avoid scandals. Read it.

In this post, we are dealing with the other character in the passage, the kinsman-redeemer who it was his right to inherit the properties of Ruth's late husband, including marrying Ruth in order to produce children for the deceased. When he was confronted with the matter, he agreed. However, when the issue of Ruth was added to it, he declined "because I might endanger my own estate". No games; no hypocrisy; no dancing around. He was truthful and transparent which helped the elders to quickly take decisions and the matter was resolved amicably. Elders' meeting that day at the gate did not drag unnecessarily, because this man was truthful to himself. Boaz married Ruth.

In our churches, every now and then, we have situations where elders rigmarole up and down in matters because of hypocrisy and personal interests. Matters have often complicated because elders who have the relevant information refused to open up and say what they know. Matters drag, sometimes very messy, even the church unity is affected and yet elders will not take the risk to be straight in their talk and pure in their interests and actions. Currently, there is a very big denomination in this country that is in a serious crises due to leadership tussle. In some cases, they have even called in the police to separate fights in order to avoid 'brethren' killing themselves. It is crazy and unfortunate. This is a clear example of the failure of elders to speak the truth strongly. When elders live in comprise for a very long time, they lose the right to exercise spiritual authority over young people, hence in crises times, their words will not have any power.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom

He who has the bride is the bridegroom

I have been to several wedding ceremonies and saw the friends of the bridegrooms perform in different colours. Some ran around for several days trying to support the bridegroom to make the wedding ceremony a success. Many even participated in procuring very personal items like wedding gowns, rings, shoes etc for both the bride and the groom. However, there is one thing I have never seen: the bridegroom leaving his place and allowing his friend to marry his wife for him.

Many years ago when we came into the city after our high school, five of us were living in one room with only one person, a very magnanimous brother, catering for everybody because God blessed him with a good job early. Several of us were in relationships we hoped would end up in marriage. We made fun calling ourselves “shoe shiners”. We would always joke that no matter how you shine someone else shoes, afterwards, you must hand over the shoes back to him because he is the owner. You are not. The idea was that we were all committed to the welfare of the fiancées of each other. However, no matter how committed we were, nobody crossed an obvious boundary of acting as if he has the bride. Many of us ran away when either the fiancée or family of a friend’s fiancée began to give us undue attention at the detriment of our friend.

John the Baptist called himself a friend of the bridegroom while answering a question from his disciples in John 3: 26-30 and he taught us great lessons on how to handle and serve the Church, the Bride of Christ.

“They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan — the one you testified about — well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:26-30 NIV

The Church is the Bride of Christ. The Pastor or the General Overseer is not the owner of the church. The Bishop and Archbishop do not own the church. The Pope does not own the church. The church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Head – One Bride, One Bridegroom.

When Paul said that he betrothed the Corinthian Church like a virgin to one husband, he was actually acting as a friend of the Bridegroom. He was saying, “I have worked to prepare the Bride for her Bridegroom. I have not exploited her. I have not taken advantage of her though the Husband is yet to arrive. I am handing the Church to her Husband as a virgin”. He never stood in the position of the husband for any while.

What happens is that the Lord equips every one of His children, with gifts and ministerial offices, so as to play a part in equipping and preparing His Bride for Him. He does not give His Bride to anyone to marry for Him for a time and then later, hand over to Him. The ministry we have from Him already is based on this trust, that we will carry out and finish our work and still leave His Bride uncorrupted, unexploited and still a virgin, intact. What we are doing is like what a eunuch would do in those days. They used to prepare and attend to the brides of kings. At no point will he ever assume or behave as if the bride is his. Whatever items of beautification, or food he is given for the bride, he delivers faithfully. To be emotionally attached to the king’s wife is out of the question. He has been castrated ever before he entered the service. Never will he misbehave or maltreat her. His fulfillment comes when the bride is presented to the king and the king is please with her.

Any mistake can cost him his head. Remember the man, Haman, only because the king saw him around the wife in a manner he considered inappropriate, he was hanged. Those who are in the business of attending to the King’s Bride know that it is a precarious service with great responsibility. This is because they know that it can cost them their life, even eternal life. There is no man the Lord handed the Church over to in trust as if to stand in for Him for sometime before He comes. What we have in trust are our ministries which all aim at preparing the Church for Him. The fact that we even have the gifts and ministries is a privilege. It is an honour to participate in preparing and equipping the King’s Bride for Him.

It is a deception for a church leader to carry on as if the church belongs to him. There are those who use the church resources for whatever they want without being accountable to anyone. They oppress those under them like a tyrant and see church members as an opposition camp or a farm. They forget that these ones under them, both pastors, other church leaders and members, are all part of the Bride the Lord has called them to equip and serve. It is a misconception for a leader to see the church as his personal farm, field or investment. The husbandry belongs to God.

True, God’s servant gets his due from the harvest of the field but both the farm and the entire harvest belong to the Owner. He partakes of the harvest as one who will give account. Knowing this, a wise servant opens himself up to human accountability helps and sets all the tools around that will act as checks to help him prepare for the day he will give account before God. It is a foolish servant that dismantles all the structures that place accountability demands on him simply because he wants to be free to use the church resources the way he wants. This makes us as like owners and hence we behave like the servant Jesus talked about in Matthew 24: 48-51. The church is not to be used to build personal empires. Doing all these is meddling with the King’s Bride.

Let’s all renew our commitment to preparing and equipping the Bride for her Bridegroom. Let all of us rededicate ourselves to playing our part in making the Bride ready. We cannot be here forever. We are only contributing our own quota. Others have gone before us. This is our time. When we are gone, others will continue the work till He comes. Come Lord Jesus, come!

God bless!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The dire need for workers

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matt.9:36 NIV

There is always this challenge whereby God will be looking for men in the midst of men. He will be looking for leaders in the midst of leaders and workers in the midst of workers. In Ezekiel 22:30, God said, “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one” NLT. Before this conclusion, from verse 24-29, He listed some of His discoveries in the course of His search for a man.

From our text, the Lord Jesus Christ “felt great pity” for the people who had many problems and were scattered and didn’t know what to do or where to go to for help. They were like sheep without shepherds. The interesting thing here is that this was happening at a time when there were “shepherds” in the land – teachers of the law, college of priests, the Sanhedrin, scribes and other interpreters of the law.

For us today, the situation is not really different. The condition of the sheep has not changed and God is still looking for shepherds. There are many reasons, more of distractions, why there will be men around and yet God will still be looking for someone. However, the pertinent challenge is personal. Will I make myself available for God? Will I be willing to make adjustments, even costly ones – a significant shift from my self centeredness, and allow God to use me?

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

8 Mistakes the American Church made

This is a sermon by Lee Grady of Charisma Magazine in Nigeria in 2002. It was reproduced in The Nigeria Anglican, the official magazine of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. I'm convinced it worths repeating in this blog.

Eight Mistakes the American Church Made That I Hope You Don’t Repeat

When in 2002 I was in Nigeria conducting interviews, I was invited to speak at a growing Church that meets near a University in Lagos. Knowing that future Church leader would be in the audience that Sunday morning, I wanted to deposit something that could shape the destiny of Africa. My message was title “Eight Mistakes the American Church Made That I Hope You Don’t Repeat”. I don’t have the kind of pulpit savvy that gets people shouting ‘amens’ and waving handkerchiefs. Yet this sermon struck a chord not only with my Nigerian friends, but also with Americans who heard about it when I returned. I am sharing the gist of the message with you because I know it’s not too late to learn from our blunders. Here’s my list of the American Church’s all-time biggest goofs:

1. We made unbelief a doctrine:

While Christians in Chine, Latin America and Africa were casting out devils and healing the sick, we were teaching seminary students that the Holy Spirit doesn’t do miracles any more. That’s really bad theology.

2. We tolerated division:

Who needs the devil when Christians are perfectly OK with hating one another in the name of denominational loyalty? Why should the world listen to us teach about family values when the family of God is so fractured?

3. We cultivated a religious spirit:

We taught converts that Christianity is all about daily Bible reading, Church attendance and avoiding cigarettes and beer. Genuine faith became drudgery. Christians trapped in dry legalism lost their joy because they thought intimacy with God could be achieved by their performance.

4. We encouraged “superstars:

We elevated ministers to celebrity status, and some of them actually believed they deserved the titles, the pedestals, the grand entrances and the first-class seats next to Jesus’ throne. They stopped modeling servant hood and as a result the Church forgot that Jesus washed the feet and rode on a donkey.

5. We equated money with success:

We taught that biblical prosperity could be obtained by inserting our tithes into a heavenly slot machine. LOTTO fever spread throughout the Church and we found a way to legitimate greed and materialism when we should have been using our wealth to feed the poor, adopt orphans and fund missionary ventures.

6. We wouldn’t release women in ministry:

We let gender prejudice have more control of the Church that the Holy Spirit. He is ready to send an army of dedicated women to the front lines of spiritual battle but He is waiting for us to bury our stinking male pride.

7. We stayed in the pews and became irrelevant:

We insisted on letting a group of older white men in dark suits represent our faith in the marketplace, and we freaked out when somebody tried to use rap, punk or metal music to reach the younger generations. Instead of engaging the culture, we hid from it.

8. We taught people to be escapists:

Jesus told us to occupy the planet until He returns. But most of us were reading rapture novels when we should have been praying for our brothers and sisters who were on the verge of martyrdom. They were willing to suffer and die for the cause. Why can’t we have that kind of faith?

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Truth, Justice and the Oral Roberts University Scandal

This is a must read for every Christian leader. It is from here

By J. Lee Grady

The current uproar at ORU should motivate all ministries to clean up their acts before we have a Christian version of the Enron tragedy.

Twenty years ago we were holding our heads down in shame as we endured the ugly PTL scandal—which added new phrases to our national vocabulary such as “air conditioned dog house” and “gold-plated faucets.” Televangelist Jim Bakker went to prison, Jimmy Swaggart’s Bible college collapsed and many disillusioned people lost faith in evangelical ministries because donor funds were misused.

Hopefully we learned some important lessons from that debacle. Or did we? I don’t know about you, but I’m having flashbacks from 1987.

It was déjà vu all over again when one of the country’s top Pentecostal colleges was accused of serious ethical and financial wrongdoing last week. In a lawsuit filed by three professors from Oral Roberts University (ORU), school officials, including its president, Richard Roberts, were accused of misusing donor funds and violating IRS tax codes. The suit triggered an uproar in Tulsa, Okla., where ORU’s 5,300 students, along with alumni, faculty and community leaders, are now forced to take sides while the school’s reputation hangs in the balance.

The professors who filed the suit say they took legal action because ORU’s board of regents would not listen to their grievances. But in a chapel service held on Oct. 3, Roberts confidently told students that the lawsuit is about “intimidation, blackmail and extortion.” Roberts and his wife, Lindsay, then went on CNN’s Larry King Live on Oct. 9 to deny all wrongdoing—and claimed that most of allegations were based on a list of rumors that Lindsay’s sister was asked to compile. The next day, ORU officials announced that they have ordered an independent investigation.

The allegations in the suit are numerous, and some are sensational. John Swails, a tenured government professor, claims he was wrongfully fired after another professor in his department, Tim Brooker, was forced by Roberts to help a local Tulsa politician’s mayoral campaign. The lawsuit also contains seven pages of alleged abuses of power by Roberts and his wife—including claims that the school pays outrageous sums on money for home remodeling, vehicles, vacations, clothes and a 2,000-square-foot “closet” for Lindsay’s use when she is taping her television program.

It is way too early to make judgments about the case (although that hasn’t stopped zealous bloggers from calling for Roberts’ head). Our legal system guarantees that people are innocent until proven guilty. Hopefully things will cool off so that responsible adults can sort through the mess, throw out any false accusations, correct any wrongs and preserve an institution that has served the cause of Christ since it was founded in 1963.

The worst thing that could happen is that the ORU scandal could become our Christian version of Enron. While we pray for everyone at ORU (and that should be first on our agenda), I’d like to challenge all churches in this country to use this unfortunate situation as a learning experience. If a ministry is getting sloppy in any area of legal or ethical compliance, its leaders should take this simple test—which is based on the word Enron. The letters in that infamous name form a helpful acrostic:

E is for entitlement. Do leaders in your church or organization feel they deserve to be treated like kings? That style may work OK in a monarchy, but Jesus said that in His kingdom leaders must behave like servants. Those with a spirit of entitlement should be disqualified.

N is for nepotism. When leaders show favoritism to family members, they create arbitrary double standards. Christian organizations must stop building spiritual dynasties.

R is for robbery. If a Christian leader is using donor funds to purchase lavish perks for himself, he is stealing from God. Let’s call it what it is. Though the Bible makes it clear that a Christian worker is worthy of his hire, it also condemns ministers who have their hands in the coffer. When the prophet Malachi asked the probing question, “Will a man rob God?” (Mal. 3:8 NASB) he was not just addressing people who didn’t tithe. He was pointing to greedy priests who stole part of the offerings meant for the poor.

O is for overinflated egos. Too many leaders today are drunk with power. Like Nebuchadnezzar, their pride has caused them to go insane. When an egomaniac drives an organization, you can be sure he will eventually crash—and hurt a lot of people in the process.

N is for negligence. God looks for integrity in the little things. He judges leaders not by the size of the crowd or the volume of their preaching but by the way they conduct themselves when no one is looking. In this hour when our enemies are ready to pounce on our every mistake, we must be faithful in the smallest things. That means we must get our houses in order financially.

As the board of regents looks into the allegations at ORU, let’s pray that God will guide the process so that the school’s credibility will be restored and its mission accomplished.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.