THE BURDEN OF RAISING LEADERS OF EXCELLENCE
By OkuAbasi Ken Ibekwe and Ima Nkanta
Finding effective and dynamic leaders who could proactively respond to change, surf the waves of complex human multiple problems, including hunger, poverty, war and disease to creating a society or organization where citizens can fulfill their aspirations, tops the list of global search of this century. Several authors have agreed with John Maxwell’s pulsate that the rise and fall of any organization rests on the shoulders of its leadership.
But good leaders are not born but raised through a consistent and systematic process. And this is the burden Dr. Sylvanus Ukafia is carrying on his shoulders.
Every Monday afternoon in the city of Uyo, he gathers leaders of churches and organisations for training through the Pastoral Leadership Advancement Programme (PLAP). The main focus is on Ministry and organisational leadership. He has done this for over a decade and has raised great leaders from the backside of the desert to the frontline.
Weekly, over a hundred pastors participate in the training physically and in online all over world.
Passionate about pastors succeeding in their ministries and occupying where they were to occupy, irrespective of backgrounds and statuses, Ukafia has been imparting knowledge, experience, exposures and grace to leading leaders and aspiring ones. This year, he yearns to see a rebound in the lives and work of pastors. This is why he picks Restoration as his theme, with the goal of ensuring that pastors who have suffered some setbacks in Ministry, redouble and enjoy God’s promise to restore losses. He wants pastors to regain their lost spiritual and financial strength and bounce back with joy and a soothing sense of accomplishment.
He has focussed restoration since January this year with results and decided others should drink from the deep well of God’s restoration.
His lessons were drawn from 2Kings 20:1-6: In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying, beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
Pastors, he said, should resist decay and push up towards God for restoration as Hezekiah did and elongated his lifespan with fifteen years addition. Dr. Ukafia prophetically declared that for anyone who lost something of value or facing a threat like Hezekiah, was about restoring those losses. He averred that God would defend pastors and their ministries for heaven’s sake.
Re-emphasizing restoration, he referred to Psalms 85:6: Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? He asserted that “when restoration comes, joy will be restored in our churches and cities,” adding that restoration was not a “function of what we are going through but a function of what God’s word says”. He stressed, however, that God would be favourably disposed to pastors.
Illustrating with the case of King Saul who had to confront Goliath for forty days, without knowing where help was coming from, only for David to show up, he said pastors should be confident that the same God would bring help for restoration from unlikely sources.
He counselled pastors not to give in to pressure because when they face conflicts. Isaac, he said faced conflicts over the wells of Abraham his father but he didn’t give up, rather Isaac did another well. “There must be something that you must do again,” he said, enthusing, “that with just one more exercise, strife is going to stop around our lives.” As Isaac dug the wells again, pastors should not be complacent with one attempt but dig more wells because, “there’s got to be one thing that will make us stand out.”
To drum home the assurances of impending restoration, he turned to Joel 2:25: And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you, he stated that God would not just restore a fraction of what we lost but whatever years we have lost would be restored to us.
That many pastors, particularly the independent ones suffered losses during the COVID 19 lockdown last year did not slip off Dr. Ukafia’s compassionate heart as he interceded to God for restoration of those losses to pastors. “God will bring restoration to what you lost especially during the lockdown.” He, however, warned pastors not to make excuses for failure because of the lockdown, noting that the lockdown, rather was an opportunity for pastors to explore new creative ways of doing things to help reach out to people and added that pastors should embrace technology in order not to let the work suffer in the face of global hitech transition from one innovation to another.
Referencing the biblical Job who was restored double for what he had lost, he maintained that the Lord will restore what we lost during the pandemic and ‘that our post COVID shall be better than pre-COVID era.”
He frowned at persistent suffering pastors were experiencing and challenged them to rise up and prevail over those situations as pain was never designed by God to last for ever but for a little while. 1Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
PLAP session holds every Monday 1pm at Insight Bible Church, Uyo. It’s tution-free!