LEADERSHIP AND NATION BUILDING
Seminar Aim: – To develop impactful leadership that would bring relevant transformation and solution to problems in generations of nations.
Expected Outcome: – reproducing model leadership in our generation.
i. To impart a passionate heart for model leadership
ii. To become and reproduce approved workman of God who is rightly dividing the Word (see 2 Timothy 2: 2, 15)
iii. To draft commitment for actions – short and long term goals for model transformation of leaders.
Africa is confronted with a leadership crisis that is apparent in both secular and religious institutions. Many people have become critical of leadership on the continent and many observers concluded that there is a dire lack of ‘enough trained leadership’.
There are many models of leadership that are both positive (good) and negative (bad). We can learn lessons from both (good and bad leadership) relevant to our contemporary world. In Bible times and contemporary time there are different situations and circumstances requiring the need for appropriate leadership. It was not every model that might be relevant to solve the problems or challenges of all Bible times or contemporary time. However, leadership principles derived from these models are relevant for all times. There is need to discover the most appropriate and relevant model of leadership for a particular generation. The issue is which model is relevant to the contemporary leadership need? Why is this topic important?: to have an effective leaders in our generation and nation.
What is Leadership?
Leadership can be described as a dynamic process in a group whereby one individual influences the others to fulfil destiny or God-given assignments. This implies that a leader knows a people’s destiny and how to take the led there. However to understand the term ‘leadership’ better, listed below are some definitions.
(These definitions imply that combination of leadership styles is preferable to any one best style. The style of leadership and reaction of the group will be determined considerably by the given situation (the task, external pressure, age range etc.)
In his book, Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders defines leadership as “the ability to recognize the special abilities and limitation of others, combined with the capacity to fit each one into the job where he will do his best.” In the context of our discussion, leadership would discern a people’s special (gifted or earned) abilities – culturally, economically, socially, ecologically, technologically, resourcefulness and their limitations; it is the ability to make people relevant in the community of other nations.
Some other definitions:
“Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence.” – Lord Montgomery
“Leadership may be defined as that quality in a leader that inspires sufficient confidence in his subordinates as to be willing to accept his views and carry out his commands.” – Fleet Admiral Nimitz
President Truman. “A leader is a person who has the ability to get others to do what they don’t want to do, and like it.”
It is also important to note that leadership as would be discussed here is not gender-biased. The traditional view that the woman’s role is purely a domestic one, and that she should be seen and not heard, is steadily being overridden. Women, alongside men, are also emerging worldwide as visionary and effective political, business and spiritual leaders all over the world.
One of the other dynamics that arise from these definitions is the importance of the ‘Train and Trust’ concept, which requires that the effective leader is also able to repose enough confidence in the led to carry out delegated responsibilities (See Ephesians 4:11; 2Timothy 2:2-3).
The leadership role is seen in various sectors of human endeavours: political, business, organizational, religious and even domestic sectors. The basic criteria and expectations for effective leadership in all these sectors are similar, even though the scenarios are different. However, effectiveness in one area does not necessarily guarantee effectiveness in other areas.
Another area which is frequently taken for granted is the domestic aspect: the family and the home front. While many leaders role-play at one level, they encounter difficulties in applying the same principles to other areas of their lives, particularly at home. Charity, they say, begins at home. As scriptures aptly put it, if anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?
The aspiring leader must seek to go beyond mere role-playing in a given setting to adopting and imbibing a new set of essential values that will aid their all-round effectiveness as leaders.
Definition of leadership by NEMI students: leadership is serving others by influencing them to serve others.
THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF AFRICAN LEADERSHIP
The Africans value their history in major decisions especially in such issue as leadership selection.
What are those experiences influencing how we perceive our leaders? These are African traditional leadership, religious beliefs, colonial rule and Western civilization. The first leadership influence has been the African traditional leadership. Africa historical socio-political structure can be summed up thus: some communities and tribes has highly developed political organizations, with differentiated hierarchies of office holders, from kings and chiefs to attendants, wielding varying degrees of authority. Each social-group was one in which different individuals played different roles.
The significant thing was that everyone has a role, and everyone had some degree of participation in political life, for political organization was an aspect of the social life, in which everyone participated. As the saying goes, ‘omode ni ise; agba ni ise ni afi da ile-ife’ which means ‘that ‘both young and old played their roles to found Ile-ife, the cradle of Yoruba race.
Among the Afikpo bribe in Nigeria, leadership authority was never centralized, but has been organized into a separate village and inter-village having a name, an internal organization and a central market leadership control and unity. These were based on the elders, ancestral priests, and the young men’s age group with their sensitive and cooperative interaction that produces the unity and identify of the clan group.
Among the Yoruba in Nigeria and some other African tribes where a centralized government structure was found, the leadership authority was often invested in “kings” whose power was considered divinely inspired or ordained.
The king’s role was to be seen as a mediator between his people and God. African centralized government system provided all necessary checks and balances that monitor the authority of their leaders, mainly to prevent totalitarianism. The leader was constantly reminded by the council of elders who served as his advisors that his leadership is for the sake of the people.
In the history of Kikuyu tribe in Kenya, a ruler turned dictator with devastating effects on the people and the land. After the removal of the dictatorial ruler, the Kikuyus formed a new government structure based on democracy at four specific levels. First, the family unit, which forms the family council, the father is the president, his role is to represent the immediate family unit in the government. Second, the village unit or village council consists of all the heads and representative of the village council to the government. The third level was the district council, comprising all the elders of the villages; a committee comprising more senior elders from the village council headed the district council. The person of more seniority, and with advanced wisdom in judgment and decision making, was appointed head of the committee to represent the people. The fourth and the highest body was the national council, composed of the district council to present their population to the government.
Government at the village level is exercised through direct democracy. It involves all the inhabitants of the village and requires the political participation of all adult males. The institutions, which are utilized in the political process of the village, include a general assembly, the priests’ association, the secret society and the age-group associations. Leadership is provided through the elders, the titled men and women of wealth who have emerged spontaneously in the village, have developed their power, and influence gradually. The leaders and elders hold their positions of authority by virtue of traditional beliefs and actions, age and personal skills.
The coming of Christianity, Islam and modernism contribute to the dynamic of social change that affect leadership structure. Since most foreign governments have some form of their democratic rule and leadership style, it was only natural that the early expatriate brought their own form of democracy with them. These earlier expatriates and colonialists brought some leadership influences which did not fit Africa context. For example, they established elitist leadership patterns with an emphasis on paper qualifications. They promoted elitist leadership over traditional leadership. They introduced authoritative hierarchical leadership which is not African.
The elitist’s emphasis of paper qualification influences selection of leaders for training and development because most of the trainings are formal and there is no emphasis on informal mentoring that are in line with African culture and traditions. However, on positive note colonization united ethnic groups which may have not merged without outside influence. Modern political set up is reducing the administrative power of the traditional leaders.
Two identifiable categories of socio-political structures of indigenous African leadership are: the state and stateless structures. The state structure is marked by an identifiable government and a well-defined central authority. The stateless structure lacks identifiable and defined government, but possess complex organizations, kinship, age group and secret societies. The modern structures are a mixture of the two traditional structures with emphasis on democracy.
The models of leadership that have existed in different African cultures have influenced the African context of leadership. It could be in the form of chieftains, a council of elders, a family led kingdom, a dictatorship or no form of organized leadership. Leadership of every sector in African is coloured with the forms of leadership and their expressions.
The knowledge of historical development of Africa socio-political structure is relevant to create a new contextualized practice in African leadership and governance. “Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it”. Let us promote historical reviews of past leaders and document experiences of the present ones for the next generation to learn from.
Much of human behaviour is learnt by the observation of models
• Modelling is the greatest form of unconscious learning.
• Mentorees need models as visual aids.
• Jesus’ disciples learnt so much from just being with him.
• Paul urged his readers, ‘Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me – put it into practice.
• Probably most of what our mentorees learn from us will be learnt just being with us, from observing who we are – our being, what we do and the way we do it, our attitudes, our values and our behaviour.
• John U’ren – ‘Do they see your priorities and values?’
• Biographies and autobiographies of contemporary and historical Christian leaders.
JESUS CHRIST’S MODEL OF LEADERSHIP
Jesus is the perfect model leader in mentoring because he is fully divine and truly human. He set us a model with his own servant-leadership lifestyle. Jesus’ incarnation helps us to understand leadership as sacrificially serving others and laying down one’s life for others. Jesus mentoring of other leaders such as the twelve apostles was in forming them into close associate friends having a common purpose (Mark 3:14).
We find in Jesus Christ a model par excellence of leadership mentoring. Scriptures testify that the Lord combined insights and competence in mentoring as he was on earth. Below are some useful characters, which are worth looking at in Jesus’ mentoring program.
Visionary lifestyle of Jesus
Jesus at his baptism had a vision of his intimate relationship with the Father. As the heaven opened, he heard the Father saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). This is the highest form of self-identity a leader could have. Self-discovery is key to leadership capacity.
Jesus had a vision of his ultimate victory over Satan and evil powers. He says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Jesus had a vision of the cross, suffering, death and his resurrection (Matt. 16:13). Jesus gives the vision of the conflict of good and evil through history. He gives the vision of the spreading of the gospel, and of the final time when “men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13: 26). He had the vision of the end of history with the triumph of his kingdom.
Jesus’ source of vision is according to “what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does (John 5:19-20). For Jesus, vision meant that he saw his mission, the people he met, and everyday life in the light of his Father’s Kingdom. This “seeing” was expressed in dynamic acts full of faith, hopes and loves.
If we long to be visionaries in Christ, we will long and pray to see as Christ sees. Our question will be, “How does Jesus see my world and my life and the people around me?” Then, we would see people with the eyes of Jesus; see institutions, organizations, churches, and homes with the eyes of Jesus.
Jesus’ Spirit of Sacrifice on Behalf of Others
To sacrifice is to surrender something valued or desired, especially one’s life, for the sake of something regarded as more important or worthy. This definition fits well with what Jesus did for humans. The Bible teaches us in many passages that Christ surrendered his life for our good and salvation.
Jesus surrendered his divine honor. Paul shows us in Philippians 2: 5-11 the attitude that was in Christ: though he was in the very nature of God, he did not hold on this nature he rather surrendered it for our sake. Jesus sacrificed his deity and honor in order to save the lost humanity.
Jesus surrendered his glory. In John 17:5 he asks his Father to glorify him with the glory he had before the world began. This is true because Jesus, during his earthly ministry was made a little lower than the angels were (Heb. 2: 5-7).
Jesus surrendered his riches. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 8: 9 that Jesus, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. These are some examples among many others that show how Jesus Christ laid aside his life because of us.
Jesus, a sensitive servant/leader
In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus exposes the right attitude of a servant leader towards others. The key elements in this lesson are a servant heart and a sensitive spirit.
Jesus begins by contrasting the divine standards with the secular understanding of a leader. While in secular organizations a leader demands service to those he leads, Jesus argues that it is quite the contrary in the kingdom principles.
The fact that Jesus’ principles of leadership are opposite to our own secular view of a leader is the greatest challenge a Christian leader is facing today. All this depends largely in the way we understand to serve or to be a servant. The King James Version uses “to minister” where NIV has “to serve”. In fact, to minister to someone is still different from serving him. Jesus is teaching leaders and leaders-to-be to truly consider themselves as servant of those they are/will be called to lead.
Jesus showed the example when he washed the feet of his disciples. Culturally, this was the task of a slave. But Jesus did this to teach his followers that the best way of effectively leading others is to be their servant. To put oneself on the bottom of the list is not naturally easy. How often we as leaders strive for the top seat, the first place in public services. However, Jesus did not see it a disgrace to climb down and do the work of a slave. We should emulate Jesus’ humility.
Putting oneself last, not forcefully, nor hypocritically, but voluntarily and joyfully, is what Jesus advocates here. A servant leader will not wait to be called for when he understands that something has to be done
A servant heart will always look for opportunity to minister to the needs of others. And there are so many calls around us, if only we have the heart to serve. Jesus’ sensitivity to the needs around him was wonderfully great. Because of that, he was always at hand whenever needed. There was no sign of discrimination or favoritism in his daily attitude towards others. His attention was mostly directed towards the oppressed, the voiceless, the powerless, short, and the needy. This special care for others brought many to seek his help.
Jesus had a clear purpose
In this study, we would outline His purpose as:
Vision: Jesus says, “I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18).
Mission: Jesus mandates, “Make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
Goal: During the period of His ministry, lasting about three years, He “appointed twelve, designating them apostles, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons” (Mark 3:14).
TYPICAL LEADERSHIP RELEVANT TO OUR CONTEXT
We chose the Book of Judges to meditate and reflect on the issues of leadership and leaders in Africa. We hope for God’s answers to such questions as: What are the involvements and how do we go about new appointment and selection of new leaders in Africa? How can we leave a lasting godly leadership legacy for the generation to come? Moreover, there is the need for the gracious leadership succession that would keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace among the people of Africa.
In OT, the word “judge” meant someone who led the people in government and during times of war. The Book of Judges, supposedly written by Prophet Samuel tells the story of many people who led Israel after it had entered the Promised Land. There were twelve such judges, who were heroes who delivered Israel from its oppressors. These leaders were not perfect; in fact, they included an assassin, a sexually promiscuous man, and a person who broke all the laws of hospitality. But they were submissive to God and God used them.
The key verse in the book is 17:6, “In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes”. This depicted the state of lawlessness, corruption and anarchy. This dark age of Israel spans a period of 325 years with six successive periods of oppressions and deliverance through the twelve deliverers. These deliverers were used by God to lead his people to freedom and true worship. God’s deliverance through the judges is a powerful demonstration of his love and mercy toward his people.
NATIONS IN SEARCH OF LEADERSHIP – JUDGES 1:1 – 15
Africa’s problems and realities are due to lack of leadership. Sanders is right in saying that “Real leaders are in short supply; constantly people and groups search for them …” (1994: 17). The search for leaders has been there from time immemorial. God has also been seeking for men and women to provide leadership to the Church and society at large (1 Sam. 13:14; Ezek. 22: 30).
What sort of leader did Israel ask for in verse 1? How did Israel look for leadership here? God chose Judah for the leadership role and that quell arguments and self-imposition. Here, the leadership is to ‘fight for the people’, defend them against their enemies and settle them in their ‘promised land’ with all prospects of well-being.
Leadership is not one man affair (1:3); it is rather a partnership between a leader and the led with clear terms of agreements. Judah involved Simeon in leadership. They shared in the struggles and the victories and the rewards (compare verse 3 with 17). Can you identify the roles of Judah’s leadership in verses 4 – 11; and compare these to what should be the roles of contemporary leaders.
Leadership role in the marriage life begins with the commitment to pay the bride price. Caleb priced her daughter highly (verse 12). However, he discerned that his daughter with the husband has a need and gave her an open offer: “What can I do for you?”
A CHALLENGE: Leadership begins at homes. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church (read 1Tim. 3: 1 – 5)?
Prayer: Pray for the leadership in your home, church and country to be a true reflection of Godly leaders.
LEADERSHIP IS INFLUENCE – JUDGES 1: 16 – 36
From the previous discussion above, Judah was to influence the whole of Israel unto complete victory. The Kenites left Jericho, the “City of Palms”, and joined some people of Judah living near Arad, an important city sixteen miles directly south of Hebron. Obviously, Judah influenced the relocation of the Kenites. Who are you influencing and who is influencing you?
Judah together with Simeon successfully captured Zephath, renaming it Hormah—a city that was allotted to Simeon (Jos 19:4-9). Since the name means “total destruction,” it may be the same Hormah demolished by Moses near Arad (Nu 21:1-3). The complete destruction recalls the Lord’s command to wipe out the Canaanites and their livestock and give all the articles of silver and gold to the sanctuary (Dt 7:1-2; 20:16-17; Jos 6:17-19).
Verse 19 revealed that God’s Presence was the secret of Judah’s victory. While notably successful in the hilly regions of central Palestine, Judah failed to control the plains (verse 19). Taking Hebron represented the key achievement of Judah, and v. 20 attributes its capture to Caleb (cf. also v. 9). Hebron became a city of refuge belonging to the priests (Jos 20:7; 21:11), but its fields and suburbs were Caleb’s own possession (Jos 21:12). Caleb was a chief influence to Judah’s conquests. Are you influencing your neighbours to live victoriously?
Verses 21 – 36 were records of partial victory for the other tribes of Israel. Identify and name the tribes with partial victories. Benjamin’s main city was Jerusalem, but neither Benjamin nor Judah could dislodge the Jebusites. The city of Jerusalem did not become an integral part of Israel until David stormed the fortress of the Jebusites (2Sa 5:7). Hence the successful attack of Judah was either a temporary or partial capture.
REFLECTION: Whether you are conscious of it or not, your life is influencing others. Your victorious Christian living could be a guiding light for others; on the other hand your failure or defeat in the face of trials might cause many to fall.
THE PASSING OF GODLY LEADERS – JUDGES 2: 1 – 23
The deplorable spiritual condition of the Israelites lay behind their failure to dispossess the Canaanites. To expose Israel’s sinfulness, the “angel of the LORD” appeared to them. This angel, frequently identified with God himself (6:22; 13:21-22), was perhaps a pre-incarnate form of the Second Person of the Trinity.
What was the charge of the angel of the Lord against Israel (v.1-5 see also Ex 34:12-13 cf. Pr 2:16-17). The response of the people to the angel’s sad pronouncement was to weep loudly (v.4-5). Like the weeping of Nu 14:1, when the spies announced that Canaan could not be captured, here the crying does not necessarily imply repentance.
Just before his death, Joshua had led the people in renewing the covenant with the Lord (v.6-9 cf.Jos 24). Then he sent them away to finish occupying the land. What they did about this is described in ch. 1. During the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him, Israel was relatively faithful to the Lord. These men had experienced God’s miracles.
After the death of Joshua’s contemporaries, the new generation accelerated down the highway to destruction (v.10). They did not know God in a vital way nor had they seen the miracles their fathers had talked about. Each generation must personally experience the reality of God.
The Lord spared the people throughout the lifetime of a given judge, even though they deserved to be in bondage and oppression of their enemies (v.18-19). Then after the death of a judge, the corruption of the people increased; they became “stubborn”, repeating their stiff-necked attitude in the desert (cf. Ex 32:9; 33:3, 5).
Again the anger of the Lord is mentioned in verses 20-23 (cf. vv. 12, 14). The summary here closely resembles the stern pronouncement of vv. 1-3 by the angel of the Lord. Violating the covenant meant a slower conquest of Canaan. The nations would be left there to test Israel’s desire to obey the Lord. The constant pressure from a pagan culture would prove who the genuine believers really were.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP: The next generation ‘knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (v.10). What a tragedy? An entire generation had failed to learn in any life-changing way about God or his deeds. “Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it”. Let us promote historical reviews of past leaders and document experiences of the present ones for the next generation to learn from.
Reflection: How powerful the influence of one good man is, in church or state, is best found in his loss [BISHOP HALL].
FOLLOWER SHIP TESTS – JUDGES 3: 1 – 11
How would God help inexperienced Israelites to learn and grow? God had to put in place a national curriculum ‘to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience (v.1-2 cf. 2:21-22). Earlier on in the Israel’s wilderness journey, God invested forty years in developing their humility and obedience (see Deut. 8: 2-3, 16). God took them through the desert experience to show them how vulnerable they were (and how vulnerable we are). Notice the preparatory test of humility before prosperity (or promotion) and obedience before victory.
Who left the foreign nations in Israel as thorns in their sides? Do you have a thorn in the flesh; remember Apostle Paul experienced the same (see 2Cor. 12:7). If the Lord God had determined to test the Israelites; in their learners-teacher relationship with God, He expects them to learn by getting closer to Him and be obedient.
God left the foreigners with Israel to prepare them for ultimate victory but notice the tense in verse 5 that ‘the Israelites lived among the foreigners’ and verse 6 depict total compromise. Though we might pass through afflictions we must not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Note that your obedient steps in relationships will affect your final destination.
Othniel’s military experience qualified him for the work, while the gallant exploits he was known to have performed, gained him the full confidence of his countrymen in his ability as a leader (See Jos 15:16; Jud 1:13). The Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he judged Israel, and went out to war — Impelled by a supernatural influence, he undertook the difficult task of government at this national crisis — addressing himself to promote a general reformation of manners, the abolition of idolatry, and the revival of pure religion. After these preliminary measures, he collected a body of choice warriors to expel the foreign oppressors. Evidently, Israelites had learned to follow and obey God and His choice leader during Othniel’s leadership tenure of forty years.
Prayer: Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle (Psalm 144.1)
LEADERS AS DELIVERERS – JUDGES 3: 12 – 31
The Israelites, deprived of the moral and political influences of Othniel, were not long in following their native bias to idolatry. When Israel sins again, God raises up a new oppressor. This oppressor was permitted, in the providence of God, to triumph for eighteen years. Thus, the enemies of God’s people have no power over them, but by God’s appointment.
When Israel prays again, God raises up Ehud as minister of Divine justice. Ehud put to death Eglon, the king of Moab, and thus executed the judgments of God upon him as an enemy to God and Israel. At the statues of Moabite idols (v.19 cf. De 7:25 Jer 51:52), the sight of which might have kindled the patriotic zeal of Ehud to avenge this public insult to Israel.
The whole circumstance of this daring act — the death of Eglon without a shriek, or noise — the locking of the doors — the carrying off the key — the calm, unhurried deportment of Ehud — show the strength of his confidence that he was doing God service (v.21-26). However, God did not necessarily approve of the method used by Ehud, there was no record that the Spirit of the Lord came on Ehud, and he was never described as “judging Israel” (cf. 2Sa 4:11). He could as well be a social activist; a crusader, a campaigner or a labour leader but surely a deliverer in the hand of God.
Using the ancient alarm system of a trumpet (Nu 10:9), Ehud quickly assembled Israelite men to help him follow up his personal triumph. Ehud’s bravery and enthusiasm inspired a large following, for all sensed that the Lord was handing the enemy over to them.
The side of the country which lay south-west was infested by the Philistines. God raised up Shamgar to deliver them; having neither sword nor spear, he took an ox-goad, the instrument next at hand. God can make those serviceable to his glory and to his church’s good, whose birth, education, and employment, are mean and obscure. It is no matter what the weapon is, if God directs and strengthens the arm. Often he works by unlikely means that the excellence of the power may appear to be of God.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: What should be Christian attitude to oppression or injustice? Can a Christian be a Labour Union leader in his/her place of work or in the country? What of being a Social Activist? If yes, how should Christian advocates act differently to the worldly methods? Read Nehemiah 5:9-11; Isaiah 58:6 and Jeremiah 34:8f.
Prayer: Remember today Lawyers, Judges, Labour Leaders, Social Activist, Neighbourhood and Community leaders in your prayers. Ask God to influence them, their decisions and their methods.
WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – JUDGES 4: 1 – 24
Deborah, whose name means `bee’, was the only woman among the twelve judges. She was a contemporary of Shamgar (compare 3:31; 5:6), but was more prominent than he was. Despite living in a male-dominated culture, she served as head of state, commander-in-chief and chief justice (4:4-5; 5:7). Her achievement should put an end to debates about whether women can provide leadership.
Deborah was the only judge out of the twelve who was also a prophetess. She performed prophetic functions such as speaking for God (4:6), foretelling (4:7, 9) and urging Barak to action (4:14). Other prophetesses in Scripture are Miriam (Exod. 15:20), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Noadiah (Neh. 6:14), Anna (Luke 2:36), and Phillip’s four daughters (Acts 21:9). Their example, combined with that of Deborah, clearly indicates that leadership in the church and society is ultimately God’s gift and is gender-neutral (Rom. 12:8). Like all other gifts it is mediated by the Holy Spirit to whomever he chooses (Joel 2:28; Acts 1:14l 2:1 – 4, 17 – 18).
As commander-in-chief, Deborah summoned her chief of staff, General Barak, whose name means `thunderbolt.’ The military chain of command is set out clearly in the charge to Barak: The Lord, the God of Israel, (the supreme commander) commands you (through me, your commander-in-chief); Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor (4:6). What lessons can you bring out of this God’s clear instruction in order to attain victory in your life and enterprise?
Barak expressed his willingness to go, but only if Deborah accompanied him (vs. 8-10). Her presence as a prophetess would assure contact with the Lord, just as the presence of Moses and the ark of the covenant brought victory in battle (Nu 10:35), while their absence meant defeat (Nu 14:44). Barak’s lack of faith prompted Deborah to predict that the honor of killing Sisera would belong to a woman (see v. 11). So Deborah went along, and her support helped Barak raise the necessary troops. They began the search for troops in Kedesh, Barak’s hometown.
REFLECTION: In contemporary Africa, gender is still a major issue, particularly as regards political leadership. Yet, Africa already has its first woman president with the election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Liberia. Does it matter which gender God uses for His purpose?
Prayer: Our Lord God who gives women to complement men’s role in creation and redemption; empower the women in Africa to manifest Your victory and glory in our homes and nations.
CELEBRATION OF GOOD LEADERSHIP – JUDGES 5: 1 – 18
This is one of duets in scriptures (cf. Acts 16:23). In all communities, memorable event are put in songs. The Psalms are well known of these in the Bible. The theme of today’s passage is the celebration of good leadership. Even though it took twenty years for them to find the courage to break the yoke of the oppression, they rose up at God’s instance. The people were ready and God was on their side (v. 2 – 5). They reflected on the sad state of the nation. It is a good though painful to do this, but it could make for a determination not to let things go bad again (v. 6 – 11). The land was full of anarchy and confusion, being everywhere infested with bandits. No public road was safe and people of the villages were forced to live in fortified places or in great numbers together to protect themselves from roving bands of wicked men (v.6 – 7).
Deborah and Barak reviewed the battle and praised God for victory in song. The involvements and participants of Israel’s tribes were evaluated, some did well. Some were indifferent. Individual effort like that of Joel was acknowledged. Israel faced the crisis of leadership. There were not volunteers to offer moral and spiritual direction for some years past. Perhaps that is why Deborah in her song celebrated willing leaders followed by willing people. Deborah and Barak are good models of willing leaders. The tribes of Reuben, Gilead and Dan were bad examples. How? We should learn to help other Christians when they need our help. What good lessons can we learn from the tribes of Zebulun 8 Naphtali (v. 18, 23)?
To conclude this study on leadership, we decide to put the following questions below for your reflections preferably with another Christian or in a fellowship group setting:
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTIONS:
1) Why did the children of Israel fall prey to their enemies so often?
2) What important lessons do we learn about God’s forgiveness?
3) What lessons on unity can we learn?
4) What inspiration, motivation to leaders can we derive in this song?
5) What encouragement can we derive about God’s role in all our life challenges and battles?
6) How the situation of Israel is described here similar to our own?
7) Can you recount God’s righteous act – justice of God for Israel in the past?
8) Can you recount any of such righteous acts of God on your behalf?
9) What can you guess motivated successful rallying together of Israel for battle here?
10) What can you guess the reasons those tribes as Reuben, Gilead and Dan hesitated to join with other Israel to fight in the battle?
Prayer: Thank you, Father for the victories you’ve given us to celebrate some good leadership in our churches and nation. Our prayer is that our Lord God will multiply good leaders for us in our nation.
ABOUT INTEGRITY – 1 Samuel 12:1-4
1. How long had Samuel been Israel’s leader with integrity (vv. 1-2)?
2. In verse 3, Samuel read his evaluation sheet to the people. What mattered to Samuel? Write out what you would want to be remembered for?
3. What is the key to this kind of integrity (verses 5-7 and 20-24)?
4. Memorise 1 Timothy 4:15-16
5. Make your own plan for integrity using Psalm 15 or any other passage.
Leaders’ Competencies Profile
During the Inter term (session 2), August 2001 at Anglican Church of Kenya (A. C. K) of Nairobi, I went inside All Saints Cathedral. Two of the tablets in memorial of the members erected by their friends read as follows:
John Owen Webley Hope, C. M. G Born 22nd August, 1875, Died 15th September, 1927
Provincial Commissioner of Kenya Colony who in the course of 28 years of public life a conspicuous no less for his unfailing Courtesy, Hospitality, Generosity and Charity than for those distinguished services which he rendered to the state in the provinces of Seyide, Ukamba, Kikuyu Jubaland and the Northern Frontier and as Chief Political Officer in Tanganyika during the great war, won for himself the profound esteem and lasting affection of all those of whatever race with whom he came in contact.
To the Memory of Lieut. Leycester Aylmer of the 60th Rifles Son of Colonel and Mrs. Aylmer of Risby Manor, Saxham, Suffolk who was killed in action by Abyssinians near the Southern Abyssinians Frontier at Gudderh on the 1st May 1913
“And thus this man died leaving his death for an example of a noble courage and a memorial of virtue, not only to young men, but unto all his nations.”
The above tributes portray answers to the question ‘What do people look for and admire in leaders?’ African culture values human dignity in terms of showing mutual respect, respect for older people in age and experience, and giving due honor to persons of social status. In showing courtesy to one another, Africans rarely call others names without adding either appellation or title.
There are still age-group systems in some of African societies. This age-group system categorizes people according to years of age, years of employment and experience in organization, years of graduation and even years in marriage. The older age-group keeps some distance in relationship with the younger-age group. This may hinder mentoring and cause a generation leadership gap. However, an adage among the Yorubas in Nigeria says ‘Bi omode ba mo owo we yi o ba agba jeun’ which means that ‘A courteous young person will fellowship with the elders.’ Furthermore, Christian leaders would have to consciously work to bridge this cultural gap. Few years back, the Scripture Union(Nigeria) National Council which is a typical adult group with social status strategically gives seats to representatives of Christian fellowships from the Universities.
Another important aspect of African culture that a leader must be competent to manage is the extended family and relations of the people. The extended relations share in the assets and liabilities of one another, share in the shame of failure and credit of success of one another and share in the poverty and prosperity of one another. Africans are more people oriented than being task oriented. Africans appreciate and show charity in kinds and in hospitality rather than in cash. A saying among the Yoruba goes thus ‘I rather lose money than people.’ An effective leader in Africa context would have to give adequate emphasis to pastoral care of people and yet be a good manager of organization’s goal and objectives.
In the April 1991 edition of the Evangelical Mission Quarterly, an article in Intermit called, “Preparing Future African Leaders” highlight some of the needed qualities or characteristics of leaders. Several African student leaders from seven different countries attended a conference in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1990 and were asked this question: “What is Needed Today in African Leaders?” Here is a Biblical reflection of the findings from these African leaders and others I interacted within the course of this writing:
(1.) Vision – purpose in life: Africa needs leaders with lifesaving dreams, ideas, and visions like Josephs in Genesis 41 and Matthew 2. Joseph in Genesis interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and gave inspired wise counsel that saved Egypt and other nations from famine. Joseph in Matthew followed God’s instruction through a dream to save the baby Jesus from Herod’s wicked plot and untimely death.
(2.) Integrity: One of the tallest buildings in Nairobi city center has this virtue – INTEGRITY boldly and conspicuously inscribed on it. I suppose this is to publicize the essential value and need of integrity in the society. Leaders need to guard against cheating themselves and others financially, morally and religiously. A Psalm of David admonishes people who would like a close, personal relationship with God to practice integrity in daily living.
LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken. (Psalm 15)
(3.) Genuine interest in the welfare of others: This is being sensitive, compassionate and helping others meet their needs – spiritual, emotional, physical well-being. Paul’s apostolic team demonstrated deep concerns for others by doing regular visitations of the churches, writing edifying letters to groups and individuals, praying constantly for dear ones, spending time and their earnings on others (1 Thessalonians 2).
(4.) Diligence: For a leader to translate a vision to a mission would demand perspiration, discipline, and devotion to follow through accomplishment. There are abandoned noble research work, projects, enterprises because of laziness and distractions of alternative ‘taking it easy routes’. Africa will prosper as leaders work hard to utilize her God given resources – human, nature and religious endowment. Hard work will be abundantly recompensed (Pr. 12:11; 13:23; 28:19; Heb 6:7). Nehemiah and his team exemplified diligence in the reconstruction of Jerusalem walls and Ezra in the religious revival of the nation Israel (Nehemiah 4: 6; Ezra 7: 10)
(5.) Mutual Trust: Leaders ought to be trustworthy and be able to graciously trust others especially in delegating tasks to others. Trust cannot be acquired, it must be earned as co-workers and constituents know the leaders for consistent honesty and faithfulness. The Lord Jesus challenges by saying that “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”(Luke 16: 10 f) In addition, Jesus earned the trust of His disciples and He graciously trusts them with the great commission.
(6.) Have a servant attitude: Godly leaders always serve with sense of accountability both to God and to man. Leaders serve those over them and well as those under them. Leaders are to willingly serve others regardless of the financial, positional, or prestige rewards. In practical way leaders aught to be giving periodical stewardship reports to their constituent, joyfully accept criticism and be teachable as others evaluate him. By this servant attitude leaders can be examples for others to emulate. Apostle Peter admonishes “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5: 2-3; see also Matt. 20: 2)
(7.) Courage for Justice: Yes, Jesus died to purchase redemption for repentant sinners. In addition, Jesus was crucified for proclaiming the truth, for He stood for justice and spoke against the oppressors in his days of life. Africa needs leaders who are courageous like Jesus to speak and stand for justice in the society. Mordeciah exemplified this virtue as the scripture testified, “Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.” (Esther 10: 3)
(8.) Power and Authority: Leaders need both the ability and the right to influence other people. One may acquire power through knowledge, competence, experience and position. On the other hand, authority is conferred on one based on identity and character or by call and commission. A leader needs the authority “to be” and the power “to do.” God has the ultimate authority and He confers it on whom He wills. However, God may also confer the authority on one through a consensus of people, for example, as it is in the ordination of ministers in the Church. Leaders need the power and authority to nurture, mentors and reproduce ‘after their own kind’. (See Luke 9: 1; 10: 19; 2 Cor. 13: 10; Acts 1: 8; John 1: 12; Romans 13:1-2; Matt. 8:9; 9: 6,8; 10: 1)
What to do: Personal Evaluation and Possible Action Steps
1. Take up the assignment to read one autobiography or biography of a leader in one month and share his profile with your friendship team.
2. Ask yourself the question: For what or who will people remember me? Prayerfully share your desire of the legacy you want to leave behind in life with your friendship team.
3. Commit yourself to eliminating all negative criticism from your speech for one month and searching for only positive things to say to others. (See Philippians 4: 8) You can inform your wife, children, friends and any other person of this your commitment.
4. Give special encouragement. Pick two or three people to encourage this month. Send each person a short handwritten/text message note every week. Make yourself accessible to these people by giving invitation to a lunch or supper. And give of your time without expecting something in return. At the end of the month, share your experience and do prayer intercession with your spouse or friendship team.
5. Rebuild bridges. Think of one person with whom you have tended to be negative in the past. (It can be anyone: a colleague, a family member, or an employee, for instance.) Go to that person and apologize for your past actions or remarks. Then find the quality that you most admire about the person and tell him or her about it. During the following weeks, look for ways to build strengthen the relationship.
6. Write a newsletter report of your work and God’s dealings with you on the mission field, in the Church or in your employment and send to your supporters, mentors, financiers or employer(s) at least once a quarter of the year.