RELATING APPROPRIATELY TO CHRISTIAN ELDERS

My heart is indicting a matter, and though I might not have spent many years on the earth, but I believe I speak with a wisdom that is divine, and not earthy. I want to address a matter that I see spreading as a cancer among the Christian community and the world at large, especially young people. This has to do with the way we view, think of and discuss our elders in the faith, especially those who have pioneered different labours, ministries and churches.

By the grace of God, I have listened to most of them, ranging from the so-called conservatives like W. F. Kumuyi, to the so-called liberals like Chris Oyakhilome, and I have come to certain understandings that I would like to share with my fellow Christians hoping that our attitude towards our elders in the faith can be properly moderated- not on the extreme of uncensored, unquestioning followership, nor to the other extreme of critical, insulting and rebellious independence.

First of all, no one is really ‘conservative’ nor ‘liberal’ as we all think. Sometimes, our views of these men are shaped by social media discussions and peer friends who discuss these men without actually listening to them. After reading “Non-essential Church Traditions” by Pastor W. F. Kumuyi, and listening to such messages as “Maintaining a perfect heart”, “The Priestly Ministry of the believer”, and other messages by Rev. Chris Oyakhilome, I came to understand that these men are walking with God, and He is leading them in His way. You might not like their style (and you must not like everyone’s style), and they might not fit into your mould (carved by years of sitting under a particular ministry), but if you will open your heart and listen to them, you will learn a lot from them.

The devil has shortchanged many believers from being blessed by these men, because one non-essential has hardened their hearts to the ministry of these men. I say, non-essentials, because there are essentials that any man you must listen to must meet. There are certain men I don’t listen to, even though they prophesy, predict events, do miracles, etc, because they do not meet my essentials. Some of them have never ever told their salvation story, of how they met Jesus and how He changed them. Some of them all they do is shouting and giving out word of knowledge. For me, if I must listen to a man, he must come with God’s word. He may be a prophet by calling, but he MUST come with a word (a teaching, an insight from God’s word), otherwise he’s not worth my attention. His hairstyle, dressing, preaching style, etc is not my problem. I can listen to ‘shouting’ men, ‘quietly talking’ men, ‘slow’ men, ‘line upon line’ men, ‘from pillar to post’ men (you know what I mean. Lol), but they must come with a word from God. Once that is certified, I can pay attention

So, I encourage my brothers and sisters to open up their hearts, let God’s servants bless them. No matter how anointed David is, as long as there is a negative disposition in the heart of Saul against him, no amount of ministry by David to Saul can change Saul’s life.

The second matter is the bad negative African attitude that we have against successful people. Every African generally thinks that any successful man is his enemy. So, he can never genuinely pray for or favourably view a politician, a successful business man, etc. This attitude I see also in the way we view our elder brothers in the faith. The average Nigerian Christian today believes that Adeboye, Oyedepo, Oyakhilome, Kumuyi, Adefarasin, Delvan, Oyemade, Ogbueli, etc entered into ministry because of all the fame, accolades and honour they will get from it. So, they naturally see the pastors as people who feast off the wealth of their members. So, you will naturally see all kinds of insult railed against them by some so-called Christians. First of all, it may interest you to know that as at the time these men entered into ministry, preaching the Gospel was not as interesting and richly rewarding as it is today. I have heard almost all their stories. I’ve heard of the days of Oyedepo’s struggles in Kaduna. He wanted to be a business man, but God refused it. He naturally, would not have opted for being a Pastor if all that was in it was the money he would make. Kumuyi was a well-paid lecturer when he gave up that work to serve full-time in a church that could not pay him any salary as at that time. Adeboye became the overseer of RCCG as at a time when nobody thought them to be anything. He risked his all to see what God will do through that little Yoruba church. Delvan Gwamna had to relocate from the UK to Nigeria (what many Christians will never try) just because God told him to come back and do ministry. As at the time he came back, he had nothing really doing. Recently I heard Oyakhilome’s story of their struggles in early days to even find some money to spread the gospel. These men pioneered works from the scratch! We must give them credit for that! (Though all praises of course goes to God).

However, many people that are busy criticizing them on the internet have never pioneered anything all their lives! Even the little work/business they are doing they are not succeeding in it. Why not enter into ministry and try to raise a big church. I challenge you to try it! See if in 10 (ten) years your church can be big and rich enough to build a daycare center! Ordinary daycare center, not to talk of a University! We never appreciate good things. We never honour men who have laboured in their endeavours. All we honour are on-air personalities (OAPs) who have never achieved anything in their lives except one radio/TV that employed them, and a twitter account and blog site. We honour our actors, actresses and musicians who have never really achieved much in life except to be paid 1 million for one night show, and then to quarrel with their spouses and have baby mamas.

We are not being sincere. Go and start a ministry. Raise it to the highest level let us see. Do you think it is easy? See, no one takes this honour on himself. These men have hazarded their lives to keep God’s word alive and shining in their generation. We must show them maximum respect.

Some people also criticize our pastors for having private jets, and I laugh at such criticisms because it stems from some form of poverty mentality. A man who all his life had only ridden a bicycle will condemn pastors who ride motorcycles. The same way, will a motorcycle man criticize pastors who have private cars. My father was an elder in our church many years ago and worked as a civil servant. He pulled together some savings and loans and bought a car. Do you know that I personally heard people say that ‘of course, it was church people that bought it for him’? I laughed because my pastor didn’t have a car then, and the church will now buy car for an elder. What is the big deal if a man feels blessed; and buys a car for his pastor? And what of a private jet? Why would a pastor have a private jet? Excuse me, why will a rich business man have a private jet? Why will a nation’s president have a private jet? Why would a politician have private jet? Nonsensical questions! I love the way a man I respect answers it: “because they have private money and are going to private places”. Could he be buying it to show off? Possibly, but you don’t know his heart! You cannot judge in that matter. God will pay His servants for their deeds. But, each time you condemn another for having a possession, be ready to be judged in the same way. If you feel a pastor will not have a private jet, never try to have one. Whether you are a business man, a president or the international president of an organization, never have a private jet. If you do, you will crash in it and die! I’m not cursing you; I’m telling you what will happen. You don’t know the thoughts that played in a man’s heart before he decided to buy or use a private jet, yet you judge him harshly and condemn him. One day you will understand why men get private jets, then you will need one (and you or your organization has what it takes to get and manage one), please don’t buy or collect one freely given to you. Because the words you spoke against others will haunt you. I don’t have a car now, but being a man with responsibilities I now understand why a man should have his own car. One day, I will understand why Pastors buy and use private jets, but until then, I won’t join the company of those who oppose what they don’t understand.

Leave God’s men to God, and serve Him. Then He will bless you through their ministries, and tomorrow you may be in position to correct their excesses (where there are). Until then stay broken and humble

I refuse to stand alone in this matter. Permit me to join with me as witnesses to these truths some Scriptural passages: 1 Timothy 5 vs. 17-19; Hebrews 13 vs. 7, 17.

In subsequent articles I will speak on the matter of Christian Universities charging high tuition fees, and the matter of Christian leaders making statements on politics.

GOD BLESS YOU

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