Category Archives: Trends and the Bible

SHAHIDIHUB RESEARCH POLL REPORT ON CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR 2022

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On 10th December 2021, ShahidiHub Research & Consulting (under ShahidiHub Africa Ltd) launched a survey that sought to explore the views of Christians in Kenya on Christmas and New Year 2022. Similar to last year, this year’s Christmas still takes place within the context of the coronavirus pandemic; and the threats posed by the new Covid-19 variants. Although these findings reveal how these challenges and trends still influence how Christians in Kenya spend Christmas and observe church traditions, it also significantly conveys a hopeful future.

The online poll lasted for twelve days and was open to Christians from all church denominations. The collated findings below highlight critical views and trends on these two aspects. We have also, in some sections, compared the current findings with the 2020 end-year findings on Christmas and New Year.

We are grateful to all the participants for sharing their views, thus enabling ShahidiHub Research to produce these findings.

Magnanimous Generosity: The Kenyan Church Loving its Neighbor!

PhotoCredits: QuoteMaster

It is now over a year after the first case of COVID 19 was reported in Kenya. Since then, today’s official government reports indicate that over 6000 people have tested positive for the virus.

To curb the spread of this pandemic, the government of Kenya instituted physical (not social) distancing, the mandatory use of masks in public, the washing of hands, the establishment of quarantine facilities for those traveling from high-risk contact areas, the restriction of passenger travels from abroad, the suspension of all forms of social gathering including religious gathering, the implementation of a dusk to dawn curfew and the cessation of travels to and from Nairobi, among other measures. The net result of these measures has been the paralyzing of all non-essential services and travels.

While the government’s daily briefings focus on those infected with COVID 19, it does not reveal the number of Kenyans whose lives have been affected due to the pandemic by means other than direct infection. Reports indicate that in Nairobi alone, 84% of its 5 million residents have had their daily lives greatly impacted by COVID 19. More particularly, the 54% rate of unemployment is largely attributed to the pandemic. A report released on the 30th of June by TIFA Research shows that “among those who had been earning prior to the crisis, almost all (96%) report that they are now earning either ‘very little’ or ‘nothing’ relative to what they had been earning before”. This report also reveals that the economic interventions by the government to buffer Kenyans against financial hardship have not been felt by the ordinary citizen. With no direct and concrete social aid from the government, life has become more arduous for the poor majority.

In the midst of this, the church in Kenya has stood with their communities and continued to shine the love of Jesus Christ through various activities aimed at alleviating the pain of its neighbors. In a recent report by Shahidihub Africa, 56.67% of the churches across the 33 counties surveyed were involved in helping the poor with food; 42.86% had a targeted support of basic needs to the most vulnerable including the elderly and the people living with disabilities; 21.08% extended help with basic needs to those affected by natural calamities, while 17.56% offered similar support to Children Homes within their neighborhood.

The material support highlighted above is significant as the church itself has been financially hit by the crisis (For more on this, see Shahidihub Africa). Their own financial vulnerability has not, however, deterred them from generously tending to the vulnerability that surrounds them. The survey found that 11.71% paid rent for those who had lost their jobs. Of note is the fact that the survey does not show whether the beneficiaries were Christians or not. These churches have given materially, not because they are financially rich but because they love giving. Like the Macedonian churches in the midst of severe suffering and trials, their extreme poverty catalyzed rich generosity (2 Cor.8:1-5).

More importantly, it is precisely this love and generosity that validates their commitment to the gospel. Beside material support, churches have also enhanced spiritual services to foster spiritual growth, comfort, compassion, and reconciliation. Some of the noted activities include prayer support [82.20%], counseling (personal problems, conflicts, job losses) [64.40%] and the sharing of the gospel [57.61%]. The heightening of spiritual services and engagement during this pandemic indicates the Church’s hunger for God and its deep-rooted hope. Through prayer, support, counselling and sharing the gospel, individuals and families have had their lives considerably ameliorated in the face of what is proving to be a difficult time.

Lastly, through reaching out to those affected, the Kenyan Church has demonstrated the integrity of the gospel. It has embodied the idea that the gospel does not concern solely of the sharing of the word or meeting the needs of the people but dynamically is comprised of both. They have shown that their presence in a community is not simply to target individuals with a religious agenda but to extend love having fully considered the personhood of the individual. The depersonalization of a human being is irreconcilable with the revelatory and transformative encounter with the person of Jesus. Therefore, though church buildings remain closed and gathering for worship services remain suspended, the church according to this survey, is as active as it has ever been. As Deon K. Johnson, Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Missouri, so succinctly concludes:

“The work of the church is essential. The work of caring for the lonely, the marginalized, and the oppressed is essential. The work of speaking truth to power and seeking justice is essential. The work of being a loving, liberating, and life-giving presence in the world is essential. The work of welcoming the stranger, the refugee and the undocumented is essential. The work of reconciliation and healing and caring is essential. The church does not need to “open” because the church never “closed”. We who make up the Body of Christ, the church, love God and our neighbors and ourselves so much that we will stay away from our buildings until it is safe. We are the church.” (Bishop-elect. D. K. Johnson, June 2020).

Guest Contributor: Birgen K. M. Araap Cheruiyot;

Ph.D (Religious Studies) Student; McGill University, Montreal, QC.

Research Interests: Hebrew Bible; Old Testament Ethics; Immigration & Public Policy

 

Birgen K. M. Araap Cheruiyot

Equipping and Empowering the Laity for Ministry Support

PhotoCredits: Lay RenewalMinistries

The recently released poll report by the ShahidiHub Research & Consulting (under ShahidiHub Africa Ltd) shows various ways in which the church has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It reveals how pastors have continued their connectedness with their members after the ban on religious gathering, as a health measure against the spread of Covid-19.

The report shows pastors/church leaders who did not transition to online platforms, followed up on their members through WhatsApp (69.29%); Phone Calls (58.05%), and SMS (50.56%). However, 13.11% expressed that it has been hard to follow up on their church members during this period.

Other ways in which pastors and other church leaders have reached out to their members include cautious home visits; provision of hard copies of Bible study/ family devotional materials to members; follow-up through the leaders of life/Cell-group (home churches), and availing to members the preaching/sermon texts with guided questions.

The survey further found out that the church has continued to spread of the good news during this period. The outstanding activities to the society during this extraordinary period include: Prayer Support [82.20%]; Counseling (personal problems, conflicts, job losses)- [64.40%]; Reaching out with the Good News [57.61%]; Helping the poor with food stuff [56.67%]; Pastoral presence during bereavement process and burials [55.50%]; Supporting the vulnerable (Elderly, persons living with disabilities) with basic needs [42.86%]; Helping deal with matters of domestic violence [34.19%]; Helping those affected by natural calamities with basic needs [21.08%]; Supporting Children Homes with basic needs [17.56%]; and, Paying Rent for those who’ve lost jobs [11.71%].

Having these statistics in mind, it is evident that pastoral care has been a necessary and urgent need during this Covid-19 season. The closure of churches did not result in the lessening of pastoral activities. In fact, it has emerged that pastors and ministry leaders have become busier during this partial lockdown period. The question then is, with the current overwhelming pastoral ministry needs, how can the church effectively dispense its pastoral duties to its members? My proposition is that laity training/equipping, and empowerment are necessary for effective pastoral ministry and discipleship.

The church needs to cultivate the laity’s ability to theologize in order to mitigate some of the pastoral challenges currently being experienced. Equipped and empowered laity will be beneficial for several reasons. First, empowered laity will compensate for the strained pastor-congregation ratio. Many churches in Kenya (especially in rural areas) experience this ratio mismatch of pastors and congregations. These churches do not have enough pastors to provide leadership and shepherding to every group in the church. In this widespread scenario, the few available pastors are already strained and overstretched.

Therefore, there is a need to empower the laity to lead, teach, and support other church roles and responsibilities. It is lamentable that some churches are not utilizing some of the resource persons in their congregation. If Apostle Paul’s analogy of the body is correctly applied, various gifts in a congregation will be fanned into flame and have a vibrant body of Christ. Overreliance on the clergy overburdens them thereby making them ineffective in the ministry. Such ministry ineffectiveness produces milk-dependent and spiritually immature Christians.

Second, empowering the laity is not only for their personal good but also for the good of their circle of friends. It should be appreciated that in Africa generally and Kenya in this case, most people get their social support from friends and family members. Seeking professional counselling has not yet found wide societal acceptance in our context. Since most counselling happens at the peer and family level, there is need to train and empower the laity in order to enhance effective social support. Their training should encompass basics of counselling.

Third, laity empowerment will strengthen believers’ spiritual growth. Emphatically, the Great Commission mandate is about making disciples. Biblical teaching is a necessity for effective discipleship making. The COVID-19 situation has pointed out the weakness of pulpit and clergy-centered ministry. Believers should be empowered to personally gain their spiritual muscles and growth from the mines of the scripture, and not over-rely on Sunday-to-Sunday spoon-feeding.  However, this does not undermine the place of the pulpit ministry. If properly utilized, the pulpit offers a strategic platform for empowering the laity and promoting the priesthood of all believers.

Fourth, by training/equipping and empowering the laity, the church will be implementing the biblical principle of delegation. It took Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, for Moses to make sense of the delegation principle. Moses kept doing ministry from morning till evening to the detriment of his self. Jethro advised, “…what you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:17,18 NIV). Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy and Titus also reinforces the place of delegation in church administration (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-10, Titus 1:5). Therefore, equipping and empowering the laity will not only ease and make pastoral work effective but also delightful.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR:

Name: Leonard Too

Education Qualification: Bachelor of Education (BED-UON)-2014; MDIV-BS (AIU)-2018; PhD Biblical Studies Student (Africa International University). 

Leonard K. Too

“…it is evident that pastoral care has been a necessary and urgent need during this Covid-19 season. The closure of churches did not result in the lessening of pastoral activities. In fact, it has emerged that pastors and ministry leaders have become busier during this partial lockdown period.”

“It is lamentable that some churches are not utilizing some of the resource persons in their congregation. If Apostle Paul’s analogy of the body is correctly applied, various gifts in a congregation will be fanned into flame and have a vibrant body of Christ.”

“The COVID-19 situation has pointed out the weakness of pulpit and clergy-centered ministry. Believers should be empowered to personally gain their spiritual muscles and growth from the mines of the scripture, and not over-rely on Sunday-to-Sunday spoon-feeding.”

Exploring the Use of Whatsapp Cast Model to Reach Out to Children in Your Church

The recent poll results by ShahidiHub Africa showed that 64% of pastors/church leaders think that children of ages 0-11 years have not been given adequate attention through online and offline platforms during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

As a Sunday school teacher, this is worrisome because during this age bracket (0-11) children are open to learn about God, Bible, faith, and about the gospel.

While this can be attributed to the fact that children have no access to online platforms, children ministries can respond by using inexpensive mediums of sending gospel messages to children, through their parents. I propose the use of the WhatsApp cast model and SMS. Teachers can prepare and share gospel messages to parents and children’s caregivers and share it with their children.

WhatsApp cast is a recorded audio, word and visual illustrated files shared to users on WhatsApp platform and short messenger service (SMS). These services are easily accessible and inexpensive to use. It further allows teachers to send a word or audio file directly to their contacts. Each contact receives a personal message.

How to Start Whatsapp Cast

Know your audience in this case children ages 0-11 years– Segment children according to age and determine the content of your message that is age appropriate. Prepare age appropriate scripture verse activities that are simple, practical and fun. You can consider theme lessons for teaching a series of Bible lessons e.g. lesson series on God’s attributes or ten Commandments etc.

Organize your content– Make a list of what your cast will be about. This is important to keep you on track and help you avoid duplicating your topics.

Record and share your content– You have two options: record directly on WhatsApp or record the audio separately and then upload to WhatsApp.

Build your audience– Send the WhatsApp Cast, first to those in your contacts and then encourage the recipients to share the message with individuals in their contacts. Invite feedback to help you improve your content.  

Pray for the outpouring of the Spirit to guide you to choose your topics and execute the plan.

Given the widespread use of the Whatsapp, this alternative can greatly help churches reach out to the children at their homes. The Whatsapp feature is easy-to-use, accessible, and affordable to many, even during this period.

“…children ministries can respond by using inexpensive mediums of sending gospel messages to children. I propose the use of the WhatsApp cast model and SMS. Teachers can prepare and share gospel messages to parents and children’s caregivers and share it with their children.”

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR:

Mercy K. Maina, M. A. Biblical Studies;

Part Time Lecturer: Kabarak University, Teaching Bible Courses. Service: Sunday School Teacher CITAM Karen;; Interest: Bridging Teaching Skill Gaps among  Sunday School Teachers

Rethinking the Way Church Ministries are Funded

Photocredit: BusinessDaily

Giving is a biblical requirement for believers in Christ. It is to be done generously and joyfully, out of a heart that is grateful to God. Biblically, it is a blessing to give than to receive.

It is through giving that the work of God is propagated; for instance, preaching of the gospel, and planting of churches. Also, it is through giving, God involves people in doing his work of spreading the gospel and transforming lives and communities. The generosity of God’s people enables churches to fulfill their financial obligations like paying salaries and meeting other administrative costs. Again, it is through giving that the needs of the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable are met. Most of the churches in Kenya rely on Sunday collections to fund these financial duties and operations. (How sustainable is this?)

A few months ago, when the Covid-19 pandemic was first reported in Kenya, Sunday gatherings were halted as a containment measure against the spread of the coronavirus. Many churches have been hit hard by this measure, Also, it is true that due to the ongoing uncertain situation, many church members have lost jobs, and others have had to take pay-cuts. As a result, many churches are experiencing a financial shock. The few available resources cannot address the increasing needs within and outside the church.

The outcome of a recently released poll by ShahidiHub Africa indicate that 37.53% of pastors/church leaders think that Giving is down at least 50%; also, 23.08% mentioned that Giving is down at least 25 %; 29.14% said that Giving is down below 10%; while 6.99% think that giving is close to the same. However small the percentage, it is interesting to note that 3.26% said that giving is up more than usual. The report further indicates that “Overall, 85% think that giving is below 50%. This significantly impairs the functioning of church activities.” When the church does not have financial resources, it makes it hard to sustain itself as an organization, and in reaching out to the needs in the surrounding society.

Evidently, the financial constraints occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, that has affected the majority of churches in Kenya, is an indicator that churches might need to relook at their revenue base with the intention of expanding it. Churches may want to consider financial sustainability models that do not wholly depend on Sunday collections to run church operations. Clearly, over-reliance on Sunday morning collections weakens the church’s ability to meet its financial obligations, and ministries to the poor and underprivileged in the society.

It is worth noting that some churches have invested in income-generating activities to boost their income base. This enables them to build reserves for church operations for unusual moments. My first proposition is that churches that have not invested in income-generating activities should consider this option in the post-COVID period. It is important to note that the management of these investments needs to be handled with care and prudence so that it does not overshadow the very purpose of the church. These projects should only facilitate the mission of the church.

Second, the church needs to be intentional in matters of holistic ministry. The breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic is a reminder of a need not just to preach a spiritual message to our congregations, but also help improve their economic status by equipping them with business skills for self-support. If we want to have churches that are financially stable, we will need to equip our members to be strong economically; a wealthy home will possibly mean a wealthier church. Covid-19 pandemic should thus cause leaders to rethink how their churches can remain financially stable to continue its mission even in uncertain times.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR:

Philemon K. Tanui,
Associate Pastor, A. I. C Wilson Airport (Nairobi)- Dip. Bible and Pastoral Studies (2007), B.Th (2011), MA Missions (2018), Ph.D Student (A.I.U)

Philemon K. Tanui

Importance of Investing in Children’s Ministry During the Covid-19 Period

According to the recently released poll by ShahidiHub Africa on, “The State of the Church in Kenya During the Covid-19 Pandemic,”

“The top three groups that have not been given adequate and specific attention through the ongoing online or offline programs are Children (0-11Years)- (64.57%); Elderly (70+ years)- (61.07%), and, Teenage Group (12-19 Years)- (30.77%).”

It is sad that the Children’s ministry tops the list, yet this group represents the future of the church.

Spiritual formation is of great essence for every believer, including children. But how can the church of Christ be spiritually formed to transform the world amid crisis, suffering, evil, and uncertainties? To be even more specific, how can the church sustain children’s spiritual formation in such times and not neglect it as it is often the case even during ‘normal’ times.

Bill Hybels, a renowned leader’s trainer said “The local church is the hope of the world” The church, which is the community of believers, has a big role to play in the restoration and transformation of children who will in turn transform the world now and in the future. The family unit plays a key role in promoting this local church function.

In Genesis 18:19, God gives the reason why he had chosen Abraham; “…so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord may bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” We later see this same principle repeated in Deut. 6. The primary responsibility of discipling children lies with their parents & guardians; “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up…” (Deut. 6:6-7). 

It is within our home environment – the smallest church unit! As such, this responsibility is not to be delegated to other platforms no matter how wonderful they may be, these are there to assist and guide us in what we are called to do – to disciple our children.

It is time to go back to the basics, to strengthen the family altar, and the church will grow despite the shake ups of not meeting together. He has promised!

It is highly likely that upon resumption of normal church gatherings after the Covid-19 curve flattens, a number of parents will still be hesitant to take their children to church for a period of time thus the need to think of creative ways of ministering to the children during this season and beyond. There is a need for church leaders and ministers to:

  1. Realize the great need for systematic teaching of the word of God to children.
  2. Find out approaches and methods of teaching children in the new normal.
  3. See how we can improve the existing delivery of the gospel to the children.

The importance of ministering to children during this period is underscored by the fact that children have questions about God cannot be overlooked. The home is the place and environment where children should hear the word of God being taught and modelled.

It is highly likely that upon resumption of normal church gatherings, after the Covid-19 curve flattens, a number of parents will still be hesitant to take their children to church for a period of time thus the need to think of creative ways of ministering to the children during this season and beyond.

Also, an article by the same author, 13 Creative Ways of Improving Your Children’s Ministry During the Covid-19 Pandemic Season.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR:

Caroline Gitimu Kiragu
Children Pastor,
PCEA Loresho Parish.
Caroline holds a Master of Divinity in Theological Studies from Africa International University, a Bachelor of Education (Science) and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). She also holds a diploma in Holistic Nurturing of Children.

Caroline Gitimu Kiragu

SHAHIDIHUB RESEARCH POLL RELEASE: The State of the Church in Kenya during the COVID-19 Pandemic

PhotoCredits: Unsplash

As ShahidiHub Research & Consulting, we are glad to release to you the poll results summary, which was also shared on 24th June 2020 to the respondents, and to Media outlets in Kenya. We are glad that we were able to feature voices of 429 pastors/Church Leaders from over 33 Counties in Kenya and from 161 Church Denominations in Kenya. The survey results release (“The State of Church in Kenya During the Covid-19 Pandemic) comes about 100 days after the closure of places of worship as a containment measure against the spread of Covid-19.

We hope that the results will continue to enrich the conversations on doing ministry during these unusual moments and on the best way forward for the church in Kenya.

The Round One of the survey is now complete, soon we will launch the Round Two of the Survey. 

If you would like to write something based on the polls or want to share your experience on the Church and Covid-19, you are welcome to submit a 500-word article for consideration by our editorial team. We will be glad to feature your article (as a Guest Contributor) on this platform.

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ShahidiHub Research Team.

REMEMBERING GOD’S GOODNESS OVER OUR LIVES

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Read: Genesis 32:9-12

Today we want to learn from the prayer of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, Israel’s patriarch.

Jacobs life is recorded in Genesis 25-35, and in the rest of Genesis through the life of his son, Joseph.

Jacob is an interesting character to look at. He was a rival of his twin brother right from the womb (25:23-26). He shortchanged his brother and acquired his birthright, by offering him a meal. He is known as a schemer, and a liar. He lied about his wife being his sister, just as his father had lied. In a plot organized with his mother Rebecca, Jacob also stole Esau’s blessings. Fearful and distressed, Jacob fled for his life to the land of his uncles. In a foreign land, he married, increased in family, and wealth. More so, with his in-laws, he experienced life defining moments that would later shape his life.

After two decades of hard labor, it was God’s time for him to return to his homeland (31:13). But he had to keenly plan how to approach his brother because of unresolved past experience. Although Jacob had many challenges, fears, and failures, there are some positive things we can highlight from his life, especially from his prayer in Genesis 32:9-12.

From this prayer, we can discover four principles, Jacob:

Knew God (v.9)-

Jacob had a personal relationship with God.

He first identifies the Lord God with his grandfather and father; but this God is also the God he related to. The God of his fore fathers had become his Father. While in a foreign land, he lived among people who worshipped idols (31:19, 30), but his devotion to the true God remained unmoved.

 

He saw God’s favor in his past and present life (v. 10)

As he crossed back River Jordan, Jacob remembered when he formerly crossed the same river two decades earlier. He realized that back then when he crossed Jordan, he only had staff in his hand. Nothing more! He had no attendants, no family, and no companion.

Yet as he was now crossing back the same river, he was never the same person! He had greatly increased. The Lord had given him a big family, great possessions (goats, sheep, herd of cattle, camels), and servants. Formerly he was a poor man, but now he was a wealthy man.

As he reviews the past twenty years of his life, he noted two things:

  • He is unworthy to have received such a great favor- He pondered on who he was to merit such a great favor. He felt unworthy that he had received much that he never planned for. Presumably, Jacob knew that God blesses whomever he chooses; but the fact that he was such a recipient humbled him. (cf. 1 Sam. 2; Matt. 8:8; Lk. 1:46-53; 1 Cor. 4:7).

 

  • The Lord had shown him his kindness and faithfulness- Jacob realized that what he had become was as a result of God’s favor (hesed). The Lord of his fathers had become to him a healer, protector, pillar, and a sustainer. To him, God had become all in all; the single greatest treasure. The one who gives ability to create wealth had greatly blessed him. In God, and he had received everything for life and godliness. Jacob was grateful to God. As he persuaded his twin brother to receive his gifts, Jacob confessed, “…God has been gracious to me. I have more than enough” (33:11). He knew that everything he now owns was as a result of God’s graciousness. Today, do we have the same perspective as Jacob? We need to be grateful to God and realize that everything we have has been received from Him (the power, money, clothes, cars, spouses, children, jobs, health, houses…).

Jacob had many challenges in his life, in fact he was shortchanged when he wanted to marry, he was treated unjustly by his father in-law as he worked for him (31:40-42), but in all, Jacob saw God’s goodness. He changed the lenses in which he saw his past life. Instead of complaining to God about his past life, he thanked God and praised him for his faithfulness.

 

He prayed (v.11)-

Formerly, Jacob had crossed Jordan river with fears, fleeing for his life. And, twenty years later, as he crossed back the same river, Jacob still harboring fear in his heart (32:6-7).

He remembered that he had unsettled grudges with his brother. And his unconfessed transgression was always before him (Ps. 51:3). He knew his brother would not hesitate in any given chance to revenge the past wrongs (27:41).

But how did he handle this situation? Jacob executed two strategies.

First, he divided his wealth into two, just in case (32:7-8). Secondly, he prayed. And prayer settled his fears. The power of prayer…

Even after being given the assurance by an angel to go back to his people, Jacob still feared Esau. Generally, Jacob was a fearful character, in the past, he had cheated that his wife was his sister because he feared “someone would kill me to get her from me” (26:9). Here again in this verse, he admits to God “I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children.” Many times, the things we fear most never happen. What fears are you battling with today? Remember, a time of fear is a good time for prayer.

But one thing is clear here, Jacob had learned to direct his fears to God in prayer. Formerly, he trusted his mother more than anyone, but now, he had faith in God. He trusted Him in matters concerning his life, family, situations, and future. I pray that we learn this lesson today just like many biblical examples. That is, taking our concerns, distress, fears, and problems to Jesus.

The Bible says, “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Ps. 50:15).

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10).

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears…This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” (Ps. 34:4,6).

Jacob sought God’s help in prayer. He expressed his dependence on God the chief mediator of men. Finally, God delivered Jacob from his fears.

 

He knew God’s promises (v. 12)-

In this short prayer, Jacob reminded God his promises. God had promised to protect him and multiply his descendants (also see 28:3,4, 13-15).

Jacob had learned not only to hold so dearly the word of God but also to hear God speak; to an extent that he now boldly claimed his inheritance. We need to learn to hear God through circumstances, word, godly people, prayer…

What does it mean to remind God that he is Jehovah Jireh, Ropha, Shammah…. taking him at his word.

 

Concluding Remarks

THE LEADER AS SERVANT

Serve

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 one leadership motif presented in the Bible: servant.

Leader as 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). He served the poor, the sick, the despised, and embraced the social outcasts of the society.

A leader who is a servant goes right to where people are. It models leadership from below. 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 a leader to be a servant. This attitude was in Christ. Therefore, Jesus becomes our example. He redefines what greatness is (Mk. 9:35).

Those who lead should lead by serving. They should not by serving their own interest but the interests of the people they oversee. Those who fail to meet this threshold should never be considered leaders.

Read here for an example of servant leadership.

Read here for another Bible metaphor on leadership.

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