Three words commonly used to describe Christian leaders in the New Testament are “servant”, “minister” and “steward”. These words are interrelated and, when I look at their definitions in a Bible concordance and dictionary, one role (in our day) to which I can liken them is that of a housemaid. A housemaid is someone (female) employed to do general domestic work. In large homes, there may be several housemaids with a “chief” housemaid to oversee them. A Christian leader can be likened to a chief housemaid that leads other housemaids in the management of projects and property for the owner of the house – Christ. It is striking how the early apostles described themselves; for instance:
Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle”;
James 1:1 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”;
2Peter 1:1 “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ”.
The repeated use of “servant” is not a coincidence! Do our leaders today truly see themselves as servants?
A chief housemaid does not own the house; she must follow her master’s (or mistress’) instructions to run effectively. Similarly, we must learn to obey God’s instructions to run His church and lead His people. We must never think or act like we “own” the ministry God has committed into our hands, because it truly does not belong to us. We must work out the implications of this ownership in every detail of our disposition even for “little things” – things like displaying our pictures on every corner of the physical buildings we use to represent the mission, something a servant or housemaid would not dare to do. We must always draw attention to Christ alone – the head of the church. We should have the same mind-set regarding the finances of the ministry. In the early years of Christ Lifeline, I used to worry a lot about how to get funds to execute “our” projects because we do not collect tithes and offerings, we only receive freewill donations from Partners. Then it dawned on me that Christ Lifeline is God’s project and He won’t let it suffer, more so, a housemaid doesn’t worry about funds. I started striving to take a cue from Apostle Paul where he said -“Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us” (2 Cor. 10:13 NLT). We should only worry about funds if we leave the boundaries of our assignment.
When you have the God-given privilege to lead a project, you must account for every penny and person he commits to you. Some ministers of God, especially in small ministries, fund ministry activities with personal finances but the flip side is, when they are in dire personal need they also “partake” of the ministry funds. They do this fearlessly claiming that they have given their “all” to the ministry and things will all “balance out”. Does a servant dare spend his Master’s funds without approval? About 3 years ago, an accountant assisted us to prepare the Ministry’s financial statements for the year and he came to say when he was done that he could not account for about 2,000 Naira; he however told me not to worry about it because the amount was “not material”. I looked at him sternly and informed him that ministry is different from other companies. We don’t provide accounts on the basis of materiality; we are to account for every penny. I asked him to go do a proper reconciliation and look for that difference. I could see that he was stunned, but the standards are high in Christianity. Titus 1:7 says “for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God”.
One of the most challenging aspects of accountability in the kingdom where I still struggle has to do with people. Hebrews 13:17 (GNB) says “Obey your leaders and follow their orders. They watch over your souls without resting, since they must give to God an account of their service.” Many count the number of followers or members we have, but do we also account for their lives? Some church pastors lobby to be posted to large branches, and the desire of every Christian leader I have met in life is to increase the number of people they influence. Do we understand the gravity / implication of being “in charge” of God’s flock, that it goes beyond just counting the numbers to accounting for the lives of our members? As the chief “housemaid”, can we truly say we have assisted all the housemaids to properly execute the mandate for their lives as well as our collective mandate of reconciling men to God? 1Corithians 4:1-2 (GNB) says “You should think of us as Christ’s servants, who have been put in charge of God’s secret truths. The one thing required of such servants is that they be faithful to their master.” Are we faithful Christ?
One other strategic area God will hold a Christian leader accountable, which is also one of the greatest tests of true leadership, is “reproduction”.
It may sound like a tough call, but that is the example we see with Jesus Christ. Jesus spent about 3 years with His 12 disciples when He was physically present on earth, and when He left, almost all of them could do what He did, some did even greater works. I like the way Apostle John described their experience with Jesus in 1 John 1:1 (GW). He said – “The Word of life existed from the beginning. We have heard it. We have seen it. We observed and touched it.” They went beyond just seeing Jesus’ works and hearing Him; they touched Him; they experienced Him; they observed His process and products. That is reproduction!
Unfortunately in our day, many followers just “see and hear”. That is why it is common to hear us start every “religious statement” with – “my mentor said” because we have not observed and experienced “what we see and hear”. Can followers today do 10% of what our leaders in the kingdom do, especially in the leader’s absence? Leaders in the Kingdom must consciously strive to develop better leaders. Many leaders in the world strive to ensure that their followers are not as knowledgeable or powerful as they are. In Christianity however, leaders ought to put structures in place to make their followers outperform them. The realm in which we operate is one where “a success” without many great successors is a failure and every leader must be committed to raising committed leaders.
Many leaders are like Herod, they want to make more followers; few leaders are like Moses, they want to identify more leaders; but great leaders are like Jesus, they pour themselves out in service to make more leaders that will perform like them, or even outperform them. This is the standard of accountability in Christian leadership and I trust God to assist you to operate at this level.
Please visit my blog, www.topealadenusi.com for more insightful messages on leadership.
Tope S. Aladenusi
An opinion poll was conducted recently with the focus on views and preferences about change. The survey sought to knowhow daring people can be, in moving from a routine exercise to a completely different one, especially with an uncertain result in view. Though it was conducted randomly, the sample population was carefully chosen to represent different groups of people. The topmost response was the concern of possibly incurring loss or misfortune. People were betrayed by their emotions, fearing some nonspecific danger, they chose to back out, rather than give the new exercise a shot.
As I thought about the anxiety displayed by people in this opinion poll, I was disturbed about how they could be so scared of a mission yet to be embarked on. I asked myself the following questions: Would there have been a faster way to travel if the thought of inventing an aeroplane was horrific? Would communication be this easy across great distances if the telephone and internet were so much dreaded that we stuck to the traditional means of sending human or bird messengers? Also, would there be salvation and eternal hope, if Jesus was not willing to die for the world, because He considered the possibility of not having a single person accept him as Saviour, a risk too great?
In this article, I am highlighting three lessons from the lives of few people who saw some manoeuvrings and identified them as opportunities instead of misfortune. The unique commonality was their approach or first moves. They were spontaneous moves devoid of anxiety or apprehension; they were filled with hope, expectation and high optimism.
1.A momentary setback is not an indication of a wrong move
While you are on course, you may experience a setback, challenge or delay; never mind, it does not suggest that the move was wrong. Paul’s missionary work was punctuated with some prison experiences. Some Bible scholars argue that Paul could have avoided at least one of those prison experiences, if he took heed to the warning of Prophet Agabus that he would be bound in Jerusalem. However, his trials and imprisonment afforded him the opportunity of appearing in major palaces in his time, captivating the attention of world rulers who were then kingdom or empire rulers. He witnessed to them the testimony of the good news. In Philippians 1:12-14(MSG) for example, Paul stated“I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the Christians here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah”.
- Consistently affirm and maintain your Vision
The events that led to Joseph becoming the Prime Minister of Egypt started out very dangerously, and filled with life-threatening activities. In Genesis 37:5,when Joseph shared his dream with his parents and his jealous siblings, his siblings hated him the more. As you may be familiar with the story, after he shared two of such dreams of greatness with them, they got enraged and ganged up to kill him. After he was sold into Egypt, Joseph remained unwavering in his faith, and refrained from sinning against God. He was eventually imprisoned then moved to the palace in Genesis chapter 41.
Joseph never mistook the opportunities ahead for a misfortune waiting to unfold. For some others, it may appear to be too risky sharing and affirming such revelations. Even if we are bold to share our vision with others, we may be intimidated to continually affirm what God has revealed to us, especially if we are scolded the first time. But in Joseph, we see a fearless and focused individual who was ready to follow as the Lord leads.
- God will manifest His will when you move (act) in obedience.
In Acts 16: 9-40 (GW), Paul’s obedience to God’s instruction led to an unprecedented move of the spirit with signs and wonders. People gave their lives to Jesus, and the demon possessed was let loose. Though they were thrown into prison after being openly beaten and humiliated, this led to massive conversion of souls through the earthquake experience in the prison where Paul and Silas were jailed. When Paul set out to obey the instruction in the vision at night, he never had the inclination that events were going to turn out such that they will stand before magistrates to witness Christ and convert a soldier with his family.
“During the night Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia. The man urged Paul, come to Macedonia to help us. As soon as Paul had seen the vision, we immediately looked for a way to go to Macedonia. We concluded that God had called us to tell the people of Macedonia about the Good News… One day when we were going to the place of prayer, a female servant met us. She was possessed by an evil spirit that told fortunes. She made a lot of money for her owners by telling fortunes… Paul became annoyed, turned to the evil spirit, and said, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! As Paul said this, the evil spirit left her. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them to the authorities in the public square. In front of the Roman officials, they said, these men are stirring up a lot of trouble in our city… The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas. Then the officials tore the clothes off Paul and Silas and ordered the guards to beat them with sticks. After they had hit Paul and Silas many times, they threw them in jail and ordered the jailer to keep them under tight security… Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. The other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly, a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the jail. All the doors immediately flew open, and all the prisoners’ chains came loose. The jailer woke up and saw the prison doors open. Thinking the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul shouted as loudly as he could, “Don’t hurt yourself! We’re all here! The jailer asked for torches and rushed into the jail. He was trembling as he knelt in front of Paul and Silas. Then he took Paul and Silas outside and asked, Sirs, what do I have to do to be saved? They answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your family will be saved. They spoke the Lord’s word to the jailer and everyone in his home. At that hour of the night, the jailer washed Paul and Silas’ wounds. The jailer and his entire family were baptized immediately. He took Paul and Silas upstairs into his home and gave them something to eat. He and his family were thrilled to be believers in God…”
When God orchestrates such moves termed ‘risky’ by humans, there is always an expected end, or a future plan; the results are always dumbfounding. Therefore, rather than becloud your mind with the thought of misfortune that may be associated with a nudging by the spirit of God, forcefully advance with the thought of enormous possibilities.
He that is born of flesh is flesh, and he that is born of the Spirit is spirit. There is a spiritual side to us, which is more important than our physical side. In everything as Christians, we must act from and by the spirit.
Our heavenly account is of more importance than our earthly account and we must consciously pay attention to its operation.
Yes we all have a heavenly account and Jesus warned that we pay more attention to this account than we do to our earthly account. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
That means you can lay up treasures here on earth, and you can do the same thing in heaven from your time on earth!
“Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens.”(Luke 12:33)
When bank accounts were held in bags, Jesus taught that there was another bag account in the heavens.
Paul also referred to this account in the admonition to the church in Philippians: “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”(Philippians 4:17)
So, we all have a heavenly account. This account is operated in similar ways to how we operate our bank account. You can make deposits and withdrawals at will. But like Jesus said, the account in heaven has major advantages:
It is not subject to loss of whatever kind: no economic upheaval , inflation nor financial system collapse can affect it.
It gives more than monetary returns and for me this is the greatest. Most people lay too much emphasis on “cash”, but the blessings of God maketh complete/whole. It ensures we don’t have emergencies- that means you will not suddenly have a need or an issue you do not have the capacity to meet. It ensures provision and need come side by side. When there is a need, then the resource is available. When you make deposits in this account, a penny with you achieves so much compared to a million in the world. I tell you it is a typical case of give five loaves and two fishes and have more than enough supply to feed a multitude and still have excess! And whatever you cannot afford in a sense you receive for free! A pastor once explained this phenomenon to me in another light; he said even when he does not have the “asset “he always has “access”. Wow! There are a million and one things all the money in the world cannot give you. But the proceeds from your heavenly account gives you access to them.
Another benefit is that your heavenly account is managed by God. And no one gives better returns than Him. Your deposits keeps speaking and bearing fruits.
I am blessed by the story of Cornelius told in Acts 10. Apparently when the time came to pour out the spirit on the Gentiles, God started with a man who had made constant deposits to his heavenly account. “His prayers and gifts to the poor came up as a memorial offering before God”. At that time he was unsaved, but God still kept a record of all the deposits he ever made and rewarded him with the Gift of Gifts!
So how do you make deposits and withdrawals into this account we all have?
As long as the earth remains, seed time and harvest will not cease! Deposits are made in seed time. It is giving time. Anytime we give, we make a deposit into our heavenly account.
Phil 4: 15-17, our seeds or giving is a direct deposit to our account.These accounts can abound and increase through giving to the poor (Proverbs 19:17) Giving to the poor on earth makes an instant deposit in heaven. Jesus said whatsoever you do to the least of them, you do directly to Him. Making any type of investment into the preaching of the Gospel (Mark 10:29,30) and giving simply as praise to God are also deposits to the heavenly account.
So Luke 12:33 says “sell that ye have, and give alms, provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.”
1 Timothy 6:17-19 also says “charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on to eternal life.”
If all you have is a heavy earthly account then your tomorrow is uncertain. Money has failed to save anyone. So focus on your heavenly account through giving, and lay up in store for yourself a good foundation for the time to come.
If giving had no returns I will still give. I cannot imagine a life where I cannot share my resources, my time, my talents and the gift that God has made me, and put in me. Life will be without worth if I cannot give and receive a smile, a hug and a prayer from another person. But thanks be to God because we can make withdrawals from our heavenly account and receiving follows giving.
Let everyman be a liar, God remains true. The scripture cannot be broken. Our deposits are securely received and multiplied by God. Many have been taught to give, but few Christians expect or know how to receive and withdraw from heaven.
But God who cannot lie affirmed that as we give, it shall be given back to us, good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give to our bosom. And also affirms that He is able to make all grace abound towards us that we always having all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work!
The first step to making withdrawals is to have the confidence and consciousness that you have an account you have a right to at anytime. This is key; confident faith and a consciousness. This should lead to an unwavering expectation. Expect always a return on your investment. When you go out, expect to be blessed because men giving to your bosom is a form of withdrawal.
Expect things to work for you. When men fail all over, you win because your account has to be multiplied for you. In Malachi,God said test me and see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you down a blessing there will not be room enough to receive it. It’ is confident faith, consciousness and an unwavering expectation at all times that we use to withdraw from heaven.
And finally make verbal demands on your account. Exploit the power of your tongue. A man shall eat good by the fruits of his lips and by the increase he shall be satisfied. When you need anything call it. Say you have it. I have should replace I need. Your faith produces the consciousness which creates an expectation. And out of the abundance of that expectation your mouth speaks forth. That’ is how you make a withdrawal. Be conscious of that. God expects you to expect to receive. He expects you to draw on your heavenly account.
You have an account in the heavens. Use it well. As ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace of giving also. (2 Corinthians 8:7).
We are blessed.
Emmanuel A Aladenusi
Overcoming the biggest enemy of miraculous decision making
One of the most startling verses I have ever read in life is – Matthew 6:24 where Jesus Christ said “No one can have two masters … you cannot serve both God and money” (NIV). I was astonished by this verse because I was expecting to read something like “you cannot serve both God and the devil”. So finding money take such a position was surprising. I later gained better understanding of this concept of the wrong attitude towards money in I Timothy 6:10 (NIV) – “for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”.
What is the “love of money” and why did Jesus Christ place serving money as the major hindrance to serving God?
Serving God involves living a life that pleases Him and doing what He wills. It means allowing God to control your time, decisions and actions. When you serve God, your biggest passion is about having more of God’s attributes in your life.
Serving and loving money is the complete opposite; it involves living a life obsessed with the accumulation of money in the pursuit of pleasure. It is a desire to pursue money primarily for your usage, identity and security. Money is neither moral nor immoral. It is our attitude towards money that matters. That is why the “love of money” (not just “money”) is what the bible talks about as a root of all kinds of evil, and this is the biggest enemy to making miraculous decisions.
How do you know if you are currently plagued with the ‘love of money’ disease? Some of the symptoms include lying, stealing, gambling, cheating, corruption and murder in an attempt to gain more of it. Many people today do all these and even more to increase their potential to get more money. However, the love of money disease has more subtle symptoms – for instance, preaching, listening to or searching out money-making messages over other messages that will help or aid spiritual growth. Have you noticed that most messages in some Christian circles today are centred on money (or “making it)? A person’s prayer life is also a pointer – either there is insufficient time devoted to prayer due to work pressures (the job that brings money), or when we even pray, the prayer points are focused on what God needs to do to bless us materially. Even giving to the work of God primarily to receive more money or to avoid the devourer from touching what you already have is another symptom of the disease. A believer with a heart of genuine service to God gives because he loves God and His work, and not primarily to avoid devourers.
Let’s face it, the love of money has eaten deeply into today’s church, and that is why we do not make miraculous decisions or operate in the miraculous like God wants. The love of money will make you cruise in another realm that is far below the realm of the Spirit. It wants to make you operate at a disastrous level, when you should be at a miraculous level. Judas Iscariot made a disastrous decision to betray Christ because of the love of money; Paul made miraculous decisions because he dealt with this widespread weakness – for instance, rather than stay in Jerusalem where there were established structures and generous donations (like some pastors would do today), he went to the gentiles based on God’s leading. Today, we have a miracle in our hands – he wrote most of the New Testament books. At some point, he was taking donations to the churches in Jerusalem that initially had more money. Paul wrote to Timothy in I Tim. 6:17 “(KJVA) “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy”. Paul admonishes us to still put our focus and trust in God, no matter the material blessings we have.
Several years ago when I began to study this plague and how to overcome it, I stumbled on 2 passages that really helped me. Romans 12:21 talked about overcoming evil with good, while Luke 18:18 – 23 describes the story of a man who claimed to have kept all the commandments of God since he was young yet asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus told the man to sell all he had and follow him, the man went away sorrowful. If Jesus had given you a similar instruction, what would your response be? Can you give out all you have and start afresh with God? I recommend answering this question sincerely at least once every year.
I recently shared my experience in obeying God (and learning from Romans 12:21) by giving generously to support the ministry, how I set “giving goals” each year and how God has been helping me to fulfil the goals even if it means emptying my bank account. To my utmost surprise, within one week of discussing this, many brethren who attended that meeting came to ask me for money to the tune of over four million naira. Apart from reminding them that during the message, I said my account became empty for the particular example I shared, I became more aware of how deeply this plague had eaten into the body of Christ. It appeared that the message was lost and the money became the new focus. Please do not let it happen to you after reading this!
Leaders are often required to make challenging decisions that affect not just their destinies, but the destinies of several people they lead. When our hearts are saturated with the love of money, then all kinds of evil decisions that will indirectly destroy our lives and that of our followers will erupt. The Message translation of I Timothy 6:9-10 reads “But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time …” Let’s consciously address the ‘love of money’ in our lives so we can always make decisions that bring about positive and powerful events in our lives and those of our followers.
– Tope S. Aladenusi
How do you make miraculous decisions?
One good question to ask in order to answer the question above is – how do we make up our minds? If we are able to ascertain the inputs in our decision making process, as well as the processing of the inputs that bring about an output called decision, then we can take charge of the input and processing phases of the process of making up our minds. With that, just like the computer, the output of this process can be predictable.
The computer was modelled after man. It has the input unit (e.g. keyboard, scanner, etc.), the processing unit (memory, processor, etc.) and the output unit (monitor screen, printer, etc.). Thus, if you type “Jesus” in MS-Word (a word processor), you will see “Jesus” on your screen. The output can be further processed by applying different formats and fonts. You cannot type “devil” on your keyboard and “Jesus” will appear on the screen even though you were shouting Jesus at the top of your voice as you were typing. Unfortunately that is the way I see many Christians behave today, including pastors. The inputs to the lives of many are largely controlled by the devil, but we want to shout the name of Jesus in prayers and vigils, and we want Jesus-like results to show in our lives. It doesn’t work that way.
When you want to make up your mind on any matter, your mind considers its frame of reference from its reference catalogue and takes a position. This “reference catalogue” can be summarised as all that we have been exposed to over time via our input units (eyes, ears, skin, etc.). The inputs to our decision making includes the knowledge our souls have been exposed to (books, movies, conversations, messages, bible, etc.); our background and experiences in life; the people we have associated with (friends, family, mentors); our environment (community, church) and feelings; as well as The Holy Spirit of God. The things you exposed yourself to yesterday are currently influencing your decisions today and the things you expose yourself to today will influence your decisions tomorrow. Therefore, in order to make miraculous decisions, we must ensure we take control of the birth place of decision making – the soul, and put appropriate measures in place to ensure that we feed it with the right inputs. Proverbs 4:23 (MSG) says, keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
Knowledge greatly affects your decision making. Research shows that the soul can store up to fifteen trillion facts; therefore everything you have gone through in life is siting somewhere in your soul’s reference catalogue. You reference them consciously or unconsciously during decision making. When I was young and unmarried, I saw that many marriages were failing and because I did not want to get into something that would fail, I made a decision not to get married in life. I wanted to be like Apostle Paul in the bible. By the time I got into the university, I told my friends that I was never going to get married. My past experiences influenced that decision. Eventually, I got married before most of my friends because that decision was changed; it was influenced by something higher than my past experiences. It was influenced by the Word of God.
Sometimes the facts you reference during decision making (e.g. your background like my example above) are beyond your control, but you can get into a “resetting and editing mode” when you get born again. You can put those facts under subjection to the Word of God. You can take them one by one and evaluate them with the message and revelation of Christ. This must be done consciously so that when next your soul makes reference to that fact, there is another link (further reference) to the Word because you have updated your catalogue or “database” (soul) during your time of meditation.
I like what Romans 12: 2 says – And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We must consciously renew and keep our minds/souls guarded from useless information. Check the movies and books/articles you expose yourself to. Your life is not a garbage can so you should not be a dumping site for anything anyone conjectures up anywhere in the world. You have to be very selective with your inputs if you must be effective with your outputs. Don’t join those who say they while away time by lousy “gisting”.
If we must make miraculous decisions, we must take control of what goes into our souls and let the Word of God be the major influence of the decisions we make in life. If we don’t consciously get the Word to reset, edit and refresh our souls, then we are unconsciously allowing the devil to do so with the negative exposures we have had.
– Tope S. Aladenusi
Positioning yourself to always make miraculous decisions
In the last post of this series, we described miraculous decisions as the act of making up one’s mind by the power and purpose of God. This will in turn bring about some positive and powerful events in your life; it will make you live within the boundaries of God’s plan for your life. We also emphasised that when we gave our lives to Christ, we took a decision and a miracle occurred – we instantly received the life of God in our spirits. It is important we continue to live our lives in the same manner. We got born again by a miracle, we ought to constantly live in miracles the same way a fish that is born in water will need to remain in water to survive and thrive.
Today, we will discuss one sure way to take control of your conscious and unconscious decisions (and most decisions are unconscious anyway e.g. the decision to look downwards, touch your nose, drive your car in a particular way, etc.). We need to ensure that we make the right long term decisions or set the right long term goals for our lives. This is because this helps regulate other smaller short term / medium term decisions, whether consciously or unconsciously made.
A student in the university who is determined to graduate with a first class honours grade knows that his/her friends can make or mar the academic goal. The time spent doing things that are less important can hinder his/her progress just as the time spent studying helps make progress towards the desired goal. Hence, the decision to achieve academic excellence will help him/her regulate the conscious and unconscious decision-making pattern while on campus.
What are your long term goals in life? Some leaders have decided to impact their generation in a uniquely indelible way before they die, while mentoring others that will outperform them. Some others have set in their hearts that no one in their ministry or organisation will ever beat “their records”. Once we make our long term decisions, whether good or bad, we get into an auto-cruise mode such that our unconscious decisions and other smaller conscious decisions start regulating themselves to achieve that big long term decision. This is why we must know our purpose in life, because long term decisions help us know what our lives are about and clearly states what we want to achieve in life.
Jesus Christ said if your eye is single, then your whole body will be full of light (Mat 6:22). The Bible records in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before him of having many sons for God. That long term decision regulated his life, and here is what He has to say about something that should be our life goal:
John 7:17 (AMP) – If any man desires to do His will (God’s pleasure), he will know (have the needed illumination to recognize, and can tell for himself) whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking from Myself and of My own accord and on My own authority.
I love this verse. It elucidates that taking that “big” decision to always do God’s purpose gives the necessary illumination we need to recognize consciously or unconsciously the right things to do, which includes knowing whether Jesus is of God or not. This is one deep secret to making miraculous decisions. In fact our greatest miracle took place when we aligned with God’s will by accepting the salvation of Jesus Christ. The next big step is to decide to live entirely for God and His purpose.
The truth is that many born again persons, including leaders in the church do not have this long term goal. If their hearts are searched deeply, their long term goals are things like – I will make it in this life (by which they mean, I will also be influential and popular in this life); or I will never suffer again and ensure my generations never experience poverty, etc. As nice as these may sound, they are too small to replace our life goals because a decision to live for the purpose of God overtakes such goals, allowing us to experience the love and prosperity of God.
Being born again, this is the next most pivotal decision to take. Will you genuinely take it today if you have not– to live for God’s purpose and pleasure all the days of your life? With this, you are uniquely positioned to always make miraculous decisions.
Great leaders are great decision makers. Look around you today and reflect on the life of any great leader you know; they are usually labelled great because of some profound things they do which are consequences of some decisions they had made at some point in their lives.
Pastor Enoch Adeboye is regarded by many as one of the most influential leaders in our day. His level of influence as a pastor and church leader has been the subject of debate in many quarters. But the interesting thing is that he used to be a full time lecturer before making the decision to go into full time pastoral and evangelistic work. I’d like you to imagine Pastor Adeboye today still as a full time lecturer in the university? There is no doubt that his identity and destiny today is greatly determined by the decision he made yesterday.
As leaders, each second is an opportunity to steer our lives in the right direction by making decisions we are conscious or unconscious about (Research shows that our minds can handle 15,000 decisions in one second, so most of our decisions are unconscious and we need to learn how to take charge of them). We cannot afford the risk of going too far too fast only for us to realise that we have been on the wrong road. Imagine if Apostle Paul remained a Pharisee? Or if Samson did not make the decision to rollick or frolic with Delilah? Imagine if we avoided make all the wrong decisions we make today in our ministries, families, careers and marriages?
Leaders are often required to make challenging decisions that affect not just their destinies, but those that they lead. I personally believe that as believers, we should train ourselves to constantly make miraculous decisions that will bring about positive events in our lives and of those who follow us.
So this series is not just about making decisions, but about making miraculous decisions. Why miraculous decisions?
Colossians 2:6 (AMP) says “As ye have therefore received Christ [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him.
When we gave our lives to Christ, we took a decision and a miracle occurred – we instantly received the life of God in our spirits. It is important we continue to live our lives in the same manner of miracles as we did when we got born again – by a miracle. The same way a fish that is born in water will need to remain in water to survive and thrive, we ought to constantly live in miracles. Also, just as a baby in the womb needs food, water and oxygen to survive, and the same is needed for a child to be sustained towards healthy living, believers must thrive in the same thing that brought about our emergence as Christians. Interestingly, any time our will aligns with the will of God, a miracle occurs even though it may not be spectacular. We cannot claim that we live, move and have our being in Christ, and our decisions and actions are not constantly punctuated by miracles. That is a paradox!
Decisions drive actions; just as you had to make a decision before reading this article. Decisions determine destiny; you are where you are today as a result of the decisions you made in the past and where you will be tomorrow will also be a result of the decisions you make today. As leaders, knowing that our decisions have consequences on other people’s destinies should ensure that we make miraculous decisions like we have been wired to do.
What is a miraculous decisions? It is the act of making up one’s mind by the power and purpose of God. This will in turn bring about some positive and powerful events in your life; it will make you live in the boundaries of God’s plan for your life. Making miraculous decisions will make you live a fulfilled life and position you as an excellent leader after God’s heart.
We will discuss how to make miraculous decisions in the subsequent editions of this write-up.
Tope S. Aladenusi
Lesson #10 – Many great doors in life and ministry are opened only with the key of consistency, so leaders ought to develop staying power.
I believe that ministry is like running a marathon, but most times you are required to run it like a sprint. I liken ministry to running a marathon because if the Lord tarries in His second coming, it is going to be a very long journey and you must be found doing His work until the last day of your life. In other words, all believers should die in “active service” to the living God. I liken disposition to ministry to a sprint because the Bible commands us in Ephesians 5:16 to redeem the time. We should make every moment count and cover as much ground as we can every hour. If you watch marathons, you will observe that a key ingredient required is consistency. Now imagine running a marathon with the speed of a sprint, that would require massive consistency, and leaders in God’s kingdom must always exhibit this quality.
I love the words of Noel Coward -“Thousands of people have talent. I might as well congratulate you for having eyes in your head. The one and only thing that counts is: Do you have staying power?” Leaders ought to develop staying power. Even if you seem to be moving at snail’s pace, with consistency, you may end up in the Promised Land just like the snail made it to Noah’s ark. Consistency is the ingredient that separates leaders in God’s kingdom; many leaders are exposed to the same information, some put such information to practice only once in a while but others practise them almost all the time. As a leader, you have to keep ‘pushing the ministry’ to contact those who will transform it (spiritually, financially, etc.) and, those whom it will transform.
We see several emphases on consistency in the Bible. For instance, Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always; 1Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing; I Corinthians 15:58 (GW) – “… Always excel in the work you do for the Lord…” This is because the effect of doing a good thing all the time is usually different from doing it once in a while. We say – God is good, all the time; therefore as His extension on earth, we ought to do good, all the time. It is commonly said that the secret to success is to start from scratch and keep on scratching. As leaders, our lives should not be branded with abandoned projects. Although we may encounter many challenges along the way, once we are sure we are on the right lane, we should never give up until we have made the last attempt that will consolidate all our past efforts.
If you are a leader doing the work of the ministry genuinely and not cutting corners, you may find it one of the most challenging things you will ever do especially because you are dealing with lives. But you must always encourage yourself to move on, because many people will mistakenly see you as a ‘super person’ that has outgrown encouragement. You will encounter ‘traffic lights’ on your way but you must not let them deter you. I recall when we started publishing Today’s Lifeline magazine; we encountered so many challenges in production and distribution to the point that we got suggestions from some pastors to stop production. But because we remained consistent; we now receive regular requests from people asking us to name our price to put them on the cover of the magazine; to this we are swift to respond that the price tag is “lifestyle”.
The only time we should give up as leaders is when we are on a wrong road. You may have heard that winners never quit, but winners are the best quitters in life. They always quit wrong and unprofitable things that cannot take them to the place of purpose. Great leaders quit complacency and embrace consistency. They have staying power. They move beyond yesterday’s achievements and are always reaching out for what is ahead. We can learn from Apostle Paul when he said in Philippians 3:13 (GNB) – “I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do mybest to reach what is ahead.” I trust God that we will all finish strong in the Christian race.
– Tope S. Aladenusi
Lesson #9 – God may place a “set man” in every assembly or ministry, but it doesn’t mean that the others are dead men. Leaders ought to put structures in place to enable their followers do greater works than them.
At a recent Christ Lifeline’s executives meetings, we had a post-event evaluation of the Ilorin World Outreach Convention (WoC) that took place on 11 May 2013. Ilorin WoC 2013 was the first time I had deliberately decided not to attend a major event, so I was curious as to the outcome of the event. I asked the other executives how it went and if they missed me. Lanre Durowoju replied – “we didn’t miss you at all. Adeyiga Awomuti delivered a powerful message and the manifestation of the Spirit was awesome. Some people have called after the event to share testimonies of healings and transformation”. I muttered a delighted “thank you Jesus”. I informed the team that it was evident that we can function in the absence of the President and that was my intention for not attending this meeting. More so, one of the greatest tests of a leader is “reproduction”, and my desire, in the coming years, is to see our leaders and partners do what I do in ministry in greater dimensions.
It may sound like a tough call, but that is the example we see with Jesus Christ. Jesus spent about 3 years with His 12 disciples when He was physically present on earth, and when He left, almost all of them could do what He did, some did even greater works. I like the way Apostle John described their experience with Jesus in 1 John 1:1 (GW). He said – “The Word of life existed from the beginning. We have heard it. We have seen it. We observed and touched it.” They went beyond just seeing Jesus’ works and hearing Him; they touched Him; they experienced Him; they observed His process and products. That is reproduction! Unfortunately in our day, many followers just “see and hear”. That is why it is common to hear us start every “religious statement” with – “my mentor said” because we have not observed and experienced “what we see and hear”. Can followers today do 10% of what our leaders in the kingdom do, especially in the leader’s absence? Leaders in the Kingdom must consciously strive to develop better leaders. Many leaders in the world strive to ensure that their followers are not as knowledgeable or powerful as they are. In Christianity however, leaders ought to put structures in place to make their followers outperform them. The realm in which we operate is one where “a success” without many great successors is a failure and every leader must be committed to raising committed leaders.
In our early days in ministry, we used to long to stand before 10,000 people (or more) at a time to preach the gospel. But as we grow spiritually, our focus has shifted to – how can we raise 10,000 people to do what we do in God’s kingdom, in even greater dimensions? In 2 Timothy 2:2 (CEV), Paul told Timothy –“You have often heard me teach. Now I want you to tell these same things to followers who can be trusted to tell others.” This refers to reproduction – getting followers to start exhibiting leadership dispositions in the same measure as Paul. In Titus 1:5 (GW), Paul told Titus – “I left you in Crete to do what still needed to be done-appointing spiritual leaders in every city as I directed you.” This is our motivation in Christ Lifeline; we don’t want to lead “10,000 inactive people” who are spiritually weak, lethargic and content with being prayed over; we want to raise “10,000 foot soldiers” who will go to into the field of life, crush the adversary and get supernatural results everywhere they go. Some of the followers we bring up may end up attempting to sabotage the ministry however we should not be deterred from obeying the Word. Every ministry is likely to have a Judas Iscariot but we must trust God to deal with problematic situations or people we encounter in obeying his instructions. I am trusting God that in the next 10 years, we would have put in place stronger and better structures to enable others identify purpose, execute divine mandates, win many souls to God’s kingdom, and develop the next generation of leaders.
If you have a passion to function at this level described above but you are currently “inactive” or not operating in “full bars”, please join me by 2pm on 20 July 2013 as we celebrate our 10thanniversary. We would be sharing on the theme: Plugging into the present move of the Spirit. The venue is Bellus Court, 7A Akin Adesanya Street, Off Town Planning Way, Ilupeju Lagos. You can reach me at email@example.com and we will forward an invitation letter to you.
– Tope S. Aladenusi