Category Archives: Politics

Leadership Motifs from the Bible

There is voluminous literature out there on leadership. Some of the leadership principles and values propagated in these books are Bible-based while others are research based. It is also worth noting that some of these values and principles on each side of the divide have points of convergence and points of divergence (this is for another day).

But the Bible provides rich metaphors that depict the nature of spiritual leadership that is to be exercised in and by the church. Believers in Christ are to embody these biblical values as foundational values for their actions, reactions, and convictions. In this short write-up let’s focus on two leadership motifs presented in the Bible: shepherd and servant.

#1 Shepherd

A leader is a shepherd. And as a shepherd, he has a flock under his care.

But more importantly, it should be noted that this is a communicable attribute from the divine. The shepherd motif presented in the Bible is derived from the character of God.

In the Bible God is revealed as the good Shepherd who leads, feeds, disciplines, and protects his flock (Ps. 23; 100:3; Isa. 10:1-11). Specifically, the sheep in Psalms 23 admits that his Shepherd: satisfies him-makes him lie down in green pastures and quiet waters, restores his soul, guides him, protects, comforts and disciplines him.

Jesus referred himself as the good shepherd (Jn. 10:11,14). He showed through his incarnate life that a good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A good shepherd does not abandon the sheep and run away when he sees a wolf coming. He protects. He does not allow the flock to be scattered. He gathers and embraces. A good shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep knows him. He always leads from the front. He has good interest of the sheep in his heart.

By implication, those who serve on behalf of God, at any leadership position, are also referred to as shepherds (Jer. 23:1-4; Ezek. 34:2-10). They are supposed to shepherd after God; to shepherd in the likeness of God. Shepherds should not be preoccupied with taking care of their own (self) interests but the interests of the flock. Good shepherds strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind the broken, bring back the straying sheep, seek the lost, and rule gently.

Jesus commissioned Peter, and by extension the other disciples and believers today, to feed his flock (Jn. 21:15-19). But it is a commission with a reward. Apostle Peter later wrote that when the Chief Shepherd appears, He shall reward those who have taken good care of his flock with unfading crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:2-4).  A good shepherd like Jesus leads, directs, nurtures, heals, and guards even sacrificing his life if need be for the sheep.

And so any leadership position should be seen as an opportunity to shepherd God’s people; “not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Pet. 5:3).

#2 Servant

A leader is a servant.

The servant motif traces way back to the OT whereby priests, prophets and kings were seen as servants of God. Like the nation of Israel, they were God’s vessels in which he accomplished  his divine purposes on earth.

In the New Testament Jesus referred himself as God’s servant. He came to serve, and to save the lost. He exemplified service by washing the feet of his disciples; performing a typical work of a slave (Lk. 22:27; Jn. 13:4-11).

Jesus exemplified humility, obedience, and servanthood through his incarnation “but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness “-the kenosis concept (Phil. 2:7-8).

Servanthood is an attitude of the heart. It takes humility, a selfless spirit and a transformed heart for one to be a servant. This attitude was in Christ. Therefore, Jesus becomes our example. He redefines what greatness is (Mk. 9:35).

Therefore those who lead should lead by serving as Jesus did.

Remember that leaders after God’s own heart are shepherds and servants.

 

DOES JUBILEE GOVERNMENT HAVE POWER TO CONTROL CHURCHES?

 

jubilee bible 2

Recently the government of Kenya introduced new regulations that affect churches, mosques, and other religious groups claiming to be stepping up its efforts to weed out rogue preachers. This is not an isolated case; issuing of regulations by the Jubilee government can be seen in other new regulations that has affected Media fraternity and NGO’s. Seemingly, the state is slowly but deliberately usurping more and more power, and this time round, power to control the church and church affairs. This systematic ploy started a year ago when the government stopped registration of churches.

The Communication Authority of Kenya in a new regulation restrains preachers from using broadcasting channels to convert people to their opinion or faith or ask to get ‘saved’ as they often do in their broadcasts. This is a blow to evangelical broadcasters because a call to be ‘saved’ or ‘born again’ is one of their primary tenets.

Other new rules by Attorney General require clerics to submit certificates of good conduct and their theological certificates from credible institutions of learning that have been reviewed by the umbrella organizations. In Kenyan context, this is a big blow to many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches who have not heavily invested in the education of their clergy. With this new law they risk a closure. Religious societies in Kenya are also required to have its constitution stating its programs, ministries, charitable activities and education activities it is involved in and details of persons coordinating these activities. The rule requires all religious leaders must make a declaration of familial relations with other religious leaders and officers-officers include secretary, treasurer, trustees and committee members. All religious societies are to seek registration and be subject to Registrar’s inspection.

The Religious Societies rules also require branches of churches with headquarters abroad to produce letters authorizing them to operate and also produce letters of recommendation from embassies in Kenya. All foreign clerics in Kenya must get work permits and 30% of officials must be of Kenyan origin. The rules further state that religious societies are required to display prominently their certificates of registration from the Registrar. Clerics who breach the new regulations drafted by AG will be liable for prosecution or sh 20,000 fine.

Once the rules are gazetted all existing religious groups have one year to comply with the new laws.

Church leaders have strongly condemned the regulations arguing that the state harbors ulterior motives and infringing on the constitutional right of freedom of worship. They claim they were not involved in drafting the final document that has been published. However a section of leaders drawn from the mainstream wing perceive it differently. The regulations, they believe, will protect desperate followers and help bring order in many new churches.

The opposition party leaders have also come out strongly opposing the new regulations.

Sustained pressure from religious leaders and opposition party has let the president to direct the AG to further consult with religious leaders.

Admittedly, there are fake preachers out there who are not interested with the true gospel but enriching themselves with “seed” money from their desperate followers. Distortion of the gospel is not a new thing. Jesus, the good shepherd, forearmed the church when he forewarned of fake shepherds who abandon the sheep and runs away when they see a wolf coming, Jn 10:12. Further he warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matt 7:15.

Apostle Paul noted that there are those who “preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely” Phil 2:17. They “pervert the gospel of Christ” Gal 1:7 by preaching a “different gospel-which is really no gospel at all”. The Bible also warns of a time “when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Tim 4:3. So the truth is, there are false preachers but there are also audiences who will always entertain their messages because it suits their own desires.

The government has justified the introduction of the new regulations using the case of Victor Kanyari of Salvation Healing Ministry (who was exposed by investigative KTN journalists to have been faking miracles to enrich himself). This is unsound and misinformed, for the government to use few examples of con men to issue a blanket accusation to all preachers. This amounts to persecution of the church. There are a lot of faithful preachers out there who sacrificially labor, live, and preach the true gospel. Normally, you do not use bad examples to suppress those doing right instead you empower the ones doing right to overpower the wrong. But the case here is the opposite.

I am not advocating that those who manipulate people for selfish ends should evade justice. Rather, cases are better handled individually and due legal process followed. Each one should carry his/her own cross if found guilty of stealing from people.

In my opinion the state has no power to regulate the church. And by seeking to regulate churches, it is overstepping in its divine mandate. Biblically, the state is not the head of the church, Christ is (Eph 1:22). Jesus is the head and the church his body, 1 Cor 12. In addition, it is not the role of the state or even the church to preoccupy itself with separating tares from wheat.

In the parable of wheat and tares Jesus exhorted, that the servants were not allowed to uproot the weeds because they may root up the wheat with them. Instead, they should “Let both grow together until the harvest” Matt 13:30. At the time of harvest, the Harvester will come with “His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” LK 3:17. Jesus knows how to purify his church, he has been doing it and he will ultimately do it.

Again, this does not mean that the state has no role whatsoever in protecting those that are vulnerable to exploitation. The point is, on church matters and activities the state need to let the church be. In fact there is no crisis to warrant the new regulations. The church should be left to govern itself. It is able to.

The government could have handled this matter amicably by giving recognition to church bodies like NCCK, Kenya National Congress of Pentecostal churches &ministries, and EAK and the role they do to supervise what goes on within the churches under them. These bodies collectively can come up with biblical interpretation of what the church is, central tenets that define orthopraxy and orthodoxy (like the Apostolic and Nicene Creeds) and guidelines that safeguard the true gospel. This is possible and agreeable. I strongly suggest this can be one of the ways to move forward. These bodies can also be helpful in preliminary process of church registration before they are forwarded to the Registrar of Societies. Again, these umbrella bodies can be point of contact between the government and the individual churches or denominations.

Meanwhile these church bodies should do some housekeeping matters to ensure order in the churches under them. Personally, I think some of the regulations make sense. For example we need preachers trained in theology, and we do not need government to tell us. My argument against the regulations by the government is based on the interests of the wider body of Christ (as opposed to my denomination/ministry) and that should guide the opinion of all church leaders. And so the move to amend the document is welcome.

But how can Christians today define truth from error and avoid external interference? I have argued elsewhere that we need Christian apologists and polemics to arise and expose error and defend the truth. This is one way of helping desperate people to know the truth and not fall prey to fraudsters.

Kuria’s ICC ‘fixing’ claims a positive step to healing and reconciliation

The recent revelation by Hon. M. Kuria of the alleged fixing of ICC suspects has been received with mixed reactions. Some politicians and religious leaders think Kuria’s claims are “opening up old wounds” and polarizing the nation. I beg to differ with this thinking. Kuria should be celebrated! He is launching the country into a very crucial process of genuine forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation.

It is true that the question of PEV is a serious and divisive matter. It is one of the regrettable moments of our history as a nation. Though it is eight years ago, the memories are still fresh in our minds. Many lives were lost, while others still bear the marks on their bodies, relationships between individuals and communities broken, and property destroyed. The worst thing to do is bury our heads on the sand and pretend that the problem does not exist.  It will be insensitive of Kenyans to blindly say “let’s move on” without resolving the real issues amicably.

Over the last eight years, there have been efforts to ensure justice is implemented but this has been elusive and to some extent unsuccessful. There has also been attempts toward peace, reconciliation, and bring cohesion among communities but still much has not been achieved.

As a matter of fact, today the issue of PEV is still an emotive issue(no wonder we still call it a ‘wound’ not a ‘scar’) because no passionate move has been pursued to bring healing. We have never resolved our issues; we buried them like the person who resorts to chang’aa to forget his problems. During the last general election many people travelled to their rural/tribal homes because “who knows what could happen”. I take this as an indicator that we have only wished our problems away and have not decisively dealt with them.

Hon. Kuria’s ‘fixing’ claims and disclosure of his role in relation to the PEV cases is fundamental because it can redirect us into a path to genuine forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. The foundational step toward genuine forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation is confession. It sounds simple yet it is not an easy thing to do. It takes courage to say, “I am sorry, I did it. Forgive me”. It is a courageous move because it expresses one’s willingness to accept responsibility and consequence of their actions.

In my opinion, this man’s confession should be commended rather than condemned. I wish there could be thousands of echoes across the country of the same confessions. And for that matter, such voices should be listened to if we are serious about reestablishing trust. Confession is the medicine to reconciliation. You may not agree with Mr. Kuria on everything he says but on this issue he is telling his version of truth. Sometimes truth hurts yet it is what brings true healing and liberation.

We have all along believed that blanket forgiveness will resolve the 2008 post poll chaos, but that strategy was doomed to failure from the start. It has only worsened the situation and created more resentment, hurt and division. True healing and reconciliation only begins when the offender specifically admits his/her wrong and is sorrowful over his/her attitudes and actions. Genuine words of confession do not and should not polarize a nation but firmly unite. They do not increase hurt and suspicion but fosters genuine love, unity, and restores trust. We can enhance peace and cohesion not by urging people, “Let’s forget and move on” but by calling a wrong a wrong and asking for forgiveness.

Confession and sorrow for one’s action is important because it also leads to the path of recovery and justice. Although restitution can be impossible in cases where lives were lost; the victims should be helped to pick up their lives and move on. A wrong must be righted. Stolen things should be returned. Truth should be told. Those found guilty should humbly take responsibility. This becomes easier after the offender admits his/her wrong and seeks forgiveness from the one offended. In our opinions, let’s all give truth a chance by creating an environment where people can publicly admit their past wrongs without fear of physical or verbal attack. Confession and sorrow for a wrong done is necessary for genuine forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.