26 February 2009

...With God & Man

In the first week of this year, our youth ministry, at church, held elections for a new set of leaders. Now I have been a good boy, or more appropriately, a good man through 2008. No girls, no messing around, no rumors circulating about me as has been the case in the past etc.

Apart from the absence of negatives over the year 2008, there the presence of positives. I became quite involved at church, helping out alot. I also lead, along with my buddy, Henry, the guy quoted under the title of my blog, the preparations for our annual youth concert which is a fundraising effort hosted by the church youths to earn money for our annual youth camp. It was a huge success financially although the quality of the show was below par in my view. Anyway, Henry and I got thumbs ups from a few of the youth leaders who were there then. 2008 had been a huge success for me in most of the spheres of my life.

In light of my general conduct and performance over the year 08', I had no doubt in my mind that when the elections for new youth leaders for 2009 came along, I'd make, at the most, the highest office (Chairman) and at the least, the second highest office, Vice Chairman. I also expected that if I made Chairman, my buddy Henry would make Vice and that if I made Vice, Henry would make Chair. In my mind, it was a done deal! We had been great in our conduct and zeal, and we had been a great leadership duo during the concert preparations. We had coordinated well and would therefore be elected, I thought, as the "top two guys" of the ministry.

Well, you know, God's plans are not our plans nor his ways ours. I was in for a rude shock at the beginning of 2009.

Over Christmas and New year, I was away from home and church therefore. I did not attend the elections of new youth leaders. I didn't make Chairman or Vice and to add insult to injury, I didn't make committee member either. By the time the new leadership had been selected, I was just an ordinary member of the youth ministry.

Now, obviously, I need to clarify a couple of things before those given to misconceptions and misinterpretations, do what they do best:

I did not necessarily stay up all night dreaming of being in the leadership of the ministry. Neither did I think of it. The reason being that I expected it to happen. To me it was a done deal, I therefore didn't spend time wishing to be in leadership, I knew for a fact that it would happen. I knew that most of those in the ministry were either young or not Christians, some were recent converts others were recent members. I, on the other hand, knew the ropes, I had experience in the ministry etc. It didn't even register in my mind that any other result could...result. I neither wanted to be in the ministry leadership nor didn't want to be in the ministry leadership. I was assured that because there were very few people who could lead effectively I would certainly be elected. I hope I have made my point.

My thoughts were confirmed by the result of the elections, one brother was literally forced to enter leadership. He had objected due to the fact that he had only just arrived in the ministry, another was elected into leadership after having been in the ministry for only a short while, his still learning the ropes as you are reading this. One turned down the role of leader and a fourth was completely lost as to what to do in their posting. Now, all these guys are my good friends two guys and two girls, I have no serious objections to their being leaders but I'm simply illustrating the fact that there were very few people to properly lead and I therefore knew for sure that I'd end up as a leader because of the shortage of capable guys.

So, while I was away over Christmas and New year, the first warning sign came. My friend told me that she had been elected into leadership. Later I heard that Henry had made Chair. I was waiting to hear the words "You were elected Vice !", but to my dismay, nothing. Having known that my buddy Henry would either make Chair or Vice, I was further distraught at the fact that elections had taken place and he had not communicated to say that we were the "top men" of the ministry. I even called him later about a separate issue and he didn't tell me that he had made Chair let alone that elections had been held.

Now I speak about "making chair" or "making vice" like its something to fight for or something to be sought. Well it is.

After the idea of making Vice or Chair set in, it left a sweet taste in my mouth, I began to look forward to it. I wanted to be a leader. Some people might think, "look at this power hungry, selfish kid wanting to be a leader!" Well, Paul says that he who desires the office of overseer (elder/pastor) desires a noble thing. I say, in the same vein, he who desires the office of ministry leader or youth ministry leader or cell group leader or bible study leader, desires a noble thing.

I heard a sermon, which challenged me so very much entitled "where are the men?" by Denny Kenaston, He spoke of a "pass the ball meeting". We've all been in a "pass the ball meeting" haven't we? "Brother, why don't you open for us in prayer?" "Ah, I'm not really confident, maybe someone else can do it". "Brother, would you give a short devotion before we begin our meeting?" "I'm sorry, am alittle unprepared right now, maybe brother so and so should do it." "Oh! Not me brother. I have a sore throat, maybe brother so and so should do it." And finally all of them finally manage to wrestle one of them down and he is forced to do it. Pass the ball meetings.

Ever since I heard that message were men are rebuked for not taking their place in the church of God, I changed my attitude. I stopped backing down from requests to pray of share or speak, I even began leaping for opportunities! I've lost that flare somewhat, I should listen to that powerful sermon again! Click here to download it.

I'm not embarrassed that I got excited about the idea of being a leader. I began thinking of ideas and ways to boost the ministry and to maximise on its potential. That's why I got depressed when the wrong feedback began coming my way.

Anyway when I got back things only got worse, I found out that the outgoing leaders came up with a proposed list of leaders. I was not on that list. I also found out that my closest friends are the ones who had to suggest my name as the floor was opened to the ministry members to suggest other names apart from those on the list. I was finally knocked out when I was told that almost nobody among the youths voted for me. That did it for me!! I lost my appetite, that evening infact we had pizza for supper and me and pizza have an understanding! But that night I was so depressed that I couldn't eat, and I felt like my stomach had been tied in a knot.

I depressed because the only reason that I could come up with as to why people wouldn't vote for me was that we were not in good terms and as far as I knew, I was in great terms with everybody. I felt betrayed because I sort of felt that people had personal issues with me and yet they continued smiling and laughing with me and their dislike for me was manifested in their not voting for me.

Even some of my own good friends didn't vote for me. The former leaders who congratulated me for the "job well done" on the youth concert didn't include me on their proposed list of leaders. And the half of the former leaders were and are my good friends. Guys I've grown up with. I really felt betrayed.

I didn't know what to do. Shall I approach the guys and ask them why they didn't vote for me or include me on their proposed list of leaders? Or should I let it go and pretend everything is alright? I don't like pretending that things are alright so I made a decision. I approached the former chairman of the ministry to ask him why I was not included on the list of names they were proposing for new leaders to replace himself along with his team.

I finally did. I asked to have a word with him after the service one Sunday. I asked,"You guys (the former leaders) made a list of names you were proposing to take over the leadership of the youth ministry and I was not on that list, well I wanted to find out why." I thought he would studder and stammer but to my surprise he came right out with it, no hesitation. "Basically two reasons," he replied. The first was that he was worried about the way I operated as leader. He had observed something which concerned him while I was leading the concert preps. The second was that he wasn't sure, along with the rest of his team, and for good reason(!), whether or not I would be able to work under Henry. He said his concerns were confirmed by the low vote I got.

Needless to say, I gained alot of respect for this brother who I spoke to, he told me frankly why I was not selected. He also apologised for not pointing out the concerns as soon as they were realised.

Well, I still need clarification but one thing for sure is that I have lost favour in the eyes of people around. It is a problem I should not overlook. There obviously flaws in the way I lead, things that put people off. One cannot be a good leader if they are not firm but the opposite extreme is just as bad, maybe even worse. Its taken a while, but slowly I'm beginning to think interms of working on my flaws rather than thinking that people betrayed me. What I went through though, was very painful and I don't think I have the stomach to stand another ordeal.

The bible requires "Love and Faithfulness" for someone who wants to win favor and a good name in the eyes of both God and men. I don't think I lead others with love. I am pretty faithful but not so loving as I try to get others to do things. I realised this when we read Proverbs 3 in our family devotions. Proverbs 3:1-4:

"My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man."


elijah said...

This post made fascinating reading for me. Partly because I (the infamous former chairman) was the cause of some of your anguish but also beacuse of the way in which you've delat with the situation.I must say that I had no idea you were so anxious to serve.I think its great to see young men who have a heart to serve the Lord and who desire that nobel task.One of the things my mother taught me when i shared with her some desires I had to serve God in a particular area was that instead of fixating on the future and a particular office,great as those desires may be, I should endeavour to serve the Lord where he has presently stationed me.In giving myself to the task at hand God would prepare for me even greater service in the future.
I'm glad that you haven't folded your hands and refused to have anyhting to do with the ministry.One of the greatest stepping stones to leading is learning how to follow and I'm sure in time God will grant you your hearts desire to lead in in even greater capacity than you are now.

Mwindula Mbewe said...

Thats it! I think I knew at the back of my mind why I didn't make the exective, I had and have as a matter of fact some things that I need to work on in my life and even though I felt bad about not making it, I knew there were unresolved issues I needed to sort with God, I hope I wrote that somewhere in this account.

Secondly the thing you've mentioned about serving faithfully in ones current position is right on the money! I recall a couple weeks age telling a buddy of mine the same thing and feeling alittle guilty after because I havn't followed that piece of wisdom myself, thanks for the comment, it was very gracious considering that I rendered you infamous!

Melissa said...

There's a great song called 'Come Around' that talks about having love for people, although it's more abou love in witnessing. It's true though, in all aspects. If there isn't love in what we are doing, we are missing the point.

Here are the lyrics, by Jimmy Needham:

"I thought I’d win them all with words
I’d say a smooth little line to win the room every time
And they’d be moved by what they heard
My tongue as empty as my heart
It’s not enough to play the part
O Jesus give me more than words

We pass out paper facts all week but they won’t come around
Apologetic reasoning, but they won’t come around, come around
There’s only one way they’ll come and it’s love

I am a one man marching band
And you’ll be mighty surprised to realize just how I’m playing my songs
It’s all live music ten till one
Come hear some cymbal crashing, son
And maybe hear me beat the gong


Men with other men loving the mammon more than God
Man, they’re in a sinking ship and who can save them?
God can
Maybe for a minute I can get back to the heart of it
Sure I’ve got zeal, but does love have a part in it?
Passionate words and beautiful phrases
They just don’t mean much if I don’t have Jesus in it

Mwindula Mbewe said...

Hi Mellisa!

I wondered whether you visited here anymore, I'm pleased to see your comment! I haven't heard of this musician before, but i'll certainly look this song up. Too true, what you've said about love, we must have love in all our interactions with other men. Thanks for the comment!