SMMS President, Rev Vido Nyobole, has urged Christian leaders to imitate Christ who led by the ‘power of the example.’

Rev Nyobole was presenting the rationale for Christian leadership during the inaugural Leadership Development and Investment Symposium organised by the Black Methodist Consultation (BMC) at SMMS, on 18 October.

“Christian leadership inevitably refers to a leadership model that reflects the leadership style of Jesus Christ. In everything he did, Christ led by the power of the example. Moreover, he never told people what to do or how to do things, without him being prepared to do that himself. For example, he exacted that his followers will prove their discipleship by taking up their cross first and then follow him, but he was the first to demonstrate how it ought to be done. “As a Christian leader I am, by virtue of my vows, compelled to lead by the power of the example. It is through the example that I set that the formation of the lives of others will be formed and transformed,” Rev Nyobole said.

In the words of Anthony D’Souza, he said Christian leadership involves service: “It seeks to serve rather than dominate; it encourages and inspires; it respects rather than exploits; it reflects, prays and acts on Jesus’ words: ‘Whoever wants to be the first among you, shall be your servant…. the son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:27).’”

Rev Nyobole said Christian leadership ought to be purpose-driven, that is, it must lead to the formation of those who are being led.

He said, “The main objective of Jesus’ ministry was to bring new life to all and to ensure that no one will perish, but rather enjoy life eternal. Christian leadership is to be imparted to our society with the objective of creating a people who are dynamic enough to influence and transform the entire society. Christian leaders like ourselves should have no other focus in our ministry, but to be focused on leading every soul under our care to be formed into the likeness of Jesus.

“As Christian leaders, we need to facilitate the processes of exposing the organisation or community to which we are assigned, to multiple spiritual exercises and mission enterprise that aim at forming, reforming and transforming their spirituality. The more exposure they receive, the more confident they become with the demands of the Gospel and more continuous become their endeavour to be continuously transformed into the likeness of Jesus.”

Christian leaders should also make God’s people understand the demands of their Christian calling.

Rev Nyobole said, “If our people pay careful attention to these demands and strive to consolidate them in their religiosity and spirituality, it will inevitably become part of their DNA and this is what they will become known for.

“It means thus that by looking to Christ for his example, his teaching, his guidance, his insight and his responses to daily encounters, we will be able to establish reflective and contemplative Christian communities who will ardently strive for their spirituality to be enhanced and their Christian character to be transformed.”
Christian leaders must continuously reflect and introspect their own lives, asking how they mirror the life of Jesus, he said.

“Christ is the Head of the Church and the pivot around which everything revolves. So therefore everything that is labelled ‘Christian’ must carry the distinct characteristics of Christ. The display of the Jesus character, the Jesus construct, is the prototype for Christian leadership. Christianity is only Christianity when the Christian community has as its main objective to become like Jesus and to live a life that demonstrates that they are pursuing it,” he said.

Ultimately, he said, we as Church leaders are evaluated by the extent to which we are able to exhibit ourselves as transforming leaders for church and society.

Rev Nyobole said Christian leadership is needed now more than ever before.

“Switch on your television, open your newspaper, listen to the news bulletins, see what your friends are posting on social networking platforms and then you will undoubtedly agree that it seems as if our Christian leadership in southern Africa has been an exercise in futility and it continues to be confronted with a mammoth task to transform the hearts and the minds of people to become like Jesus and acceptable gifts to the Father.

“Christian leadership at this time is called to pay meticulous attention to the details that are emerging at the Zondo Commission; Christian leadership should analyse what lies behind all the debilitating uprisings that took place in places like Westbury, Eldorado Park, and Cape Town. Christian leaders can undoubtedly not turn a blind eye to the senseless destruction of state assets and community properties. Christian leaders cannot say that the looting of VBS is not our business. The list of atrocities is endless and it speaks of a society that is sick and sadistic and that has lost the image of God that used to be so vividly inherent in the lives of all His people.”

Rev Nyobole said now is the time for Christian leaders to roll up their sleeves and to dirty their hands with all that it takes to save God’s people from eternal destruction.

He said, “Christian leadership is critical and crucial for our time because the paradise that God had created for the good of His people has been severely marred. The fullness of life that He has promised is been murdered, maimed and raped out of His people and the life in abundance that His people should possess has now been captured by ruthless politicians and large scale depravity is the order of the day in the lives of the people of this Connexion. The world is crying for credible, inspiring, ethical leaders. It is common knowledge that organisations and institutions rise or fall depending on the quality of leadership. Our people are looking up to Christian leadership in order to make sense of all this madness. We cannot rest on our laurels when the proverbial Rome is burning.

“Now is the time for us to show the power with which the Church of Jesus Christ was endowed and to rise up, organise, strategise, plan, meet, consult, convoke and assemble. Let us equip our local preachers, manyanos, guilds and fellowships with the necessary tools to make a positive difference in our context. Let us revisit the way we do uManyano, the Church – by arranging contextual Bible Studies, organise discussion groups, call community meetings, adapt our liturgies, subscribe to thoroughly prepared sermons that speak to our context.”

Like in the past, he said, Christian leadership should not be about material advantage to those entrusted with it but about having an option for the poor.

“We are called to be transforming leaders, caring leaders, protecting leaders; leaders who work tirelessly for the attainment of justice and leaders on whom God’s people can depend and look up to for the alleviation of their plight; leaders who unabatedly choose the kind of servitude that is characterised by the sustained choice of the preferential option for the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised. If we fail to take up this ‘cross’, a better life for all, the common good and the promised land will remain an elusive dream,” Rev Nyobole concluded.