The Chair, Faculty, Graduating class, Ladies and Gentlemen. I feel very honoured to be here as the guest speaker during the 74th Graduation Ceremony of this prestigious institution. I can only imagine the joy you feel, together with your loved ones. Ayekoo!
I barely feel qualified to speak to the issue of Leadership and Accountability in the midst of priests and theologians. However as a Christian whose unction is in the marketplace, I hope my speech today will offer you some insight into how much those of us who sit on the other side of the pulpit revere you and as a result of that reverence…have great expectations of you.
I like telling stories – and so I will share a couple of them – I have a friend who is studying in this institution – she tells me thatone day in class a colleague in class lifted his hand up to ask a question and when he was given the go ahead to speak, this is what he said “ I have been a preacher for over 6 years, and have been preaching on the radiofor about two years now. My question is “IS JESUS GOD?” You can imagine the Lecturer’s amazement and shock. So he asked him…”you say you have been preaching… what have you been telling them? Now i beg the question – Is it possible to have a priest who does not know the gospel?
My second story is that I have a relative in church administration and in leadership who was once asked to put her name up for a top level leadership position in the church. The feedback received was that she was too strict, as a result of which none of the priests who were required to endorse her nomination would do so. One of the senior priests, who knew her worth called her to his office and this was the conversation that ensued : “m’ewuraba, asofu no si de brebiara iy3 no frinchimminstir wonp3d3 wo dziedwuman u ma wu. Mu susu d3 y3n ko tuto provisions nkakarakana y3nfan ka mima hon na hon apen ma ay3 adwuma no.”
In other words, “ the priests are complaining that you are too strict in the way you do your work so let’s go and buy some provisions for them so they will change their minds about you.” I leave you to guess the answer the frinchim relative said.
These are the times in which we find ourselves. Times where in the church administration and in the priesthood, it is alright to conform to the standards of the world especially where voting into church positions are concerned. The same things are apparently done as is done in our Ghanaian politics – monies actually exchange hands for votes; monies are paid and euphemisms are used to justify those payments. Everybody is concerned about their career progression – Woe betide you as a young priest if you do not bow to the very whim of your seniors – if you dare disagree with an obvious anomally which has become accepted as the norm, you could get into the bad books of your senior colleagues and that will not auger well for you. Now it is only leaders who will create leaders so the period of probation may very well be considered as a time for studying at the feet of a senior priest. What values are being enforced? These days the norm is that the new priests are left to run their own ship to either sink or swim.
In the world of work, when a worker’s performance is being assessed, the aims, targets or objectives for an agreed upon period are taken into consideration and based on that assessment and evaluation, the worker may then be described as a high performer or otherwise.As priests, what are your targets? Is it to have a happy marriage, a successful career, lots of money to be able to advance God’s work and have breakthroughs?Our aims and objectives have been selected for us by our Lord Jesus. The aim of the church is to “go ye into the world and preach the gospel to every creature”. Today the church has largely set aside its one and only aim to win the lost souls of this world for Jesus Christ. Today very few ministers of the gospel have the aim of only talking about Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
How many of us remember that we are at war? The British Military teaches that focusing on aims and objectives, is the secret tool of successful military operations.
Knowing your mandate as a Christian or being in the Christian Ministry per what I have described is not the ultimate. You need to have two key qualities; the first being leadership and in exercising leadership, the second quality, accountability comes into play.
Much is being made of leadership in the church of Jesus Christ today.As a leader, youneed to have a vision and the ability to get followers to buy into that vision. Instilpride in people, be a model yourself, set high standards, appreciate and invest in your people and do not forget to create room for people to bring new ideas and suggestions on board. These qualities are known by a number of renowned leaders in the world and are shared at almost every leadership conference or seminar but especially for the Christian, Leadership is service. How many of leaders around us truly see ourselves as servants?
Christian ministry is the duty of all Christians and does not equate to a pulpit ministry but some are called as we know to the fivefold ministry and many others administrators, encouragers, etc and are graced with what they need to fulfill their roles in the body of Christ. Jesus took captivity captive and gave gifts to men. Your role therefore is not of your making but given of God and therefore accountable to Him first and foremost.
Do not lose sight of the privileged position you have been given to serve God and the body of Christ who are also God’s anointed because they are in Christ- in the knowledge that your actions or inaction must first and foremost be pleasing to Him who has called you – to be God pleasers and not men pleasers.
The second quality I mentioned earlier carries a lot of weight. In the New Testament, one of the words constantly used to describe Christian leaders is “steward.”
A Steward can be likened to a chief housekeeper. A Christian Leader is therefore a chief housekeeper who ensures that other servants manage the Master’s assets and projects with due diligence; Most leaders rejoice in the number of followers they have but the question is what influence do they have on these people; what quality are they adding to souls; how are they inspiring these followers to also serve and love others in their own pursuit of vision and purpose?
A Christian leader also needs to be accountable to people. We hear of scandals where church leaders have misused funds or have had certain questionable relationships with ladies in the church. As a leader, you are responsible for how resources at your disposal, whether capital or human, are used for the right purposes. You owe it to your followers to do the right things at the right time whether people see or not. That is a leader of integrity. Be that leader!
Lately, the word accountability has become a popular one especially in our country. Unfortunately in as much as it is discussed…it is hardly practiced. We hear of politicians, business people and more recently priests getting caught up in all kinds of scandals…and in as much as the media screams about it…in the end no one is held accountable.
Admittedly, all of us…politicians, business people and priests…are vulnerable to sin. We are all in a constant battle against our flesh…fighting for what we know is right…but often losing. And as a result we find ourselves in desperate need of outside forces, like company regulations and financial audits to assist us to stay the course of righteousness.
Although God alone deserves the credit for every ounce of progress we make along the way, there is a very real responsibility that rests on our shoulders to discipline ourselves toward righteousness and holiness. This discipline is critical for all believers, but even more so for the people God has called to aspire to the role of priest, pastor, or church leader…and that is you!
The first of these disciplines is Spiritual Accountability.
Spiritually, as you go out into the world as leaders in God’s church
to feed the sheep that God has given you to shepherd…you must make sure to constantly be in a posture of submissive reception to the Word of God. In lay man’s English, this means you must continue to read and study your Bible.
It is only as God fills you and ministers to you, that He can equip you to guide others. But if the congregation don’t read scripture…which many don’t…and you also don’t read scripture…then bobooo…you are simply the blind leading blind.
It seems unlikely that as a priest you will ever stop reading your Bible…but many church leaders are so busy doing the work of God…that often they neglect to check-in with God for daily refreshment.
The second discipline to which you must submit yourselves is Personal Accountability.
Although personal accountability is generally tied in with spiritual accountability, I deem it important to separate it for the purposes of bringing to your attention how much of an impact your everyday actions can have on the people that are looking to you for leadership.
Personal accountability refers to your relationships on every level…that is your actions while you are in public…and your actions while you are in the privacy of your own home…yes that matters too!
I bring this up because if we are honest with each other, we will admit that today’s church has a hypocrisy problem. We tend to behave one way on Sundays and another way for the rest of the week. If we say we are truly discipling others, then it means that we must give them full access to our lives, and how we live it, so that our followers can witness first-hand what it looks like to follow Christ in every area of one’s life. When we model for our congregation a life that is only partially dedicated to God…or a life that is filled with rationalized “Christian liberties”, we put the body of Christ in jeopardy.
Thirdly you must submit yourself to the discipline of accountability in Ministry
When I say accountability in Ministry, I’m speaking to the specific measures of accountability that you want to set for yourself and your church in relation to weekly ministry engagements. This should be a set of standards that uphold a level of excellence in your ministry. This means setting clear expectations for things like being on time…allow me to repeat that… like being on time…as well as handling disciplinary issues etc.
Finally, As you leave this institution, you must submit yourself to the discipline of growth.Growth accountability is simply an area of accountability that sets expectations for you as church leaders to always seek to be better this year than you were last year in everything that you are doing.
This means, today cannot be the end of your education. You may not need to enter formally into a masters or PhD program, but you do have to continue to read, and learn and seek knowledge. Many of us believe our degree is the apex of our learning, but if we see our degree as our baptism, then we will always be reminded that between the baptismal font and the alter of Christ…is the whole church, the nave, the pews and the people with all their woes, and sorrows…their successes and joys. And each of them as you walk towards the altar is looking to you for answers. Your ability to answer and address their issues is your way of accounting to them, yourself and God that you are growing.
Luke 2:52 says, “ And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and Man” What we must realize is that Jesus is God, but even He, as he walked this earth as a man required growth. He needed that growth to fulfil his Ministry. But that growth was not only physical…it was also in wisdom and in favor…and not just with man, but also with God.
He had wisdom because he studied academically, and he proved himself academically by the wise utterances he made based on not only the knowledge he had acquired…but also on his ability to think and correctly dissect his learnings. That was why man was impressed with him. Unfortunately this is where many a “Man of God” has gotten stuck. Many of your predecessor are caught in the spotlight of man’s approval and have forgotten that true growth is signified by the approval of God as well
God may not be as impressed with your ability to speak big English and give long winded sermons full of fire on the pulpit as your ability to practicalise what you have learned. Let’s remember thatit wasJesus’ obedience, His compassion…and His lovethat God was impressed with..
Jesus grew in favor with God…not because He was a “Powerful man of God”…but because He did the will of God. And that is my charge to you today…that as you enter into this new era of your life, you will have the humility of Christ, to serve the present age, to scorn the praise of men, and each day, to prepare an account of what you have done to glorify God.
In my book “Why Are You Here”, I stressed that there are two important days in everyone’s life – the day you are born and the day you know why you are born and that the tragedy is that there are many living and dead who do not get to see the second day. I pray you will be intentional about pursuing your purpose knowing that life is short and that we are on borrowed time. He lends us breathe. Like the servant exclaimed when the axehead fell in the water, we should constantly remind ourselves that “mewuo y3 ka srayooo!!May God continue to reveal His will and purpose for you and through you as you go – this is not the end of your training, it’s the beginning of a supernatural adventure with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I urge you to take this Christian Ministry seriously and be the accountable, Christian leader this world direly needs.
I WILL END with a story of my mother and father both of blessed memory. My mother was a chorister until she was 80. Where they lived in Saltpond was far from the Church and she would need to climb a little hill to get home, with her touchlightfor company after choirpractice which usually ended after 7pm. One day as she climbed slowlyup to the house, My father watched her progress from the balcony. My mother’s name was Gertrude. As soon as she got within ear shot, my father said “ EBei, Gert oo… nadabiinkatra heaven” in other words, wont you go beyond heaven in future?”
My point, graduating priests, work so hard that people will ask of you… “wont you go beyond heaven?”
To conclude, i will repeat a line in the hymn: Y3 edwuma, whir, ma wu hu nkomu… Go, labour on, spend and be spent, and run your race along with all God’s people and finish it well, looking forward to the words: WELL DONE, THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!AMEN