WHY CAN’T WE LIVE HERE?
Lessons from “church administration”….
This note is a brief summarized summary of the major lesson I learnt in one of the courses I took in an Executive Leadership Course at Daystar Leadership Academy. The course title is CHURCH ADMINISTRATION and it was facilitated by Seyi Oladimeji.
Let me paint a picture…
Call it love. Or…family policy…or “whatever”. But in the family of the Smiths, once every week, Mummy goes to rest and Daddy takes care of their only child—a rambunctious 4-year-old. (Little wonder they didn’t intend to have another one, yet). Recently, Dad’s turn to take care of Dave fell on a Saturday! So everywhere he went, Dave went with him, tethered to his belt.
Their first stop-over was at a bank’s ATM gallery. Dave and his Dad drove into the parking lot. Flanked by well trimmed flowers on both sides, they walked in disjointed steps to the building. It was a comfortable building. One has to enter through a door and walk down a passage and make a left before getting to the gallery. There are 6 ATMs there. After Dave’s Dad finished withdrawing from the ATM, he was about moving when Dave stopped him, looked up and asked his Dad a question: “WHY CAN’T WE LIVE HERE?” In response, his Dad asked: “why did you ask?” Dave replied: “Right from the entrance, a man greeted us with a salute and another openend the gate for us; a man opened the door of the building to us and didn’t you feel the soothing breeze from the air conditioner? This place is comfortable, Dad, let’s live here!” “No, my boy. This is not home. This is just a bank’s facility”.
Dave was going to ask another question but his Dad hurried him off the building. Then they took off to the supermarket, then to the mall, then to the eatery, and finally, back home. Dave kept asking the same question at each of their stop-overs, “WHY CAN’T WE LIVE HERE?”
But don’t blame the poor little kid. He saw options! He experienced much better comfort than he gets at home at those places. He saw a money-spining machine in the ATM gallery (something told him there’s enough money there to buy whatever he needs); numerous toys in the supermarket; all the clothes he could ever need at the shopping mall; and plenty of food in the eatery. And besides, all the places are well air-conditioned and their rest-rooms are exquisite! What else could a 4-year-old imagine as the ideal picture for a home?
Or maybe the question is: WHY ARE THOSE PLACES MORE COMFORTABLE…THAN HOME?
Let’s suspend the question in the air for a minute or two. We’ll come back there.
Can I do a contrast with some of the churches I’ve been to? Or even some banks?
- Have you ever been to a bank where you entered with a frown and left hissing at the exit? Just recently, a bank down my street had a problem with their stand-by generator and there was no power supply. Worse still, people inside were trapped and those outside can’t come in…
- Have you ever been to a church with a healthy backbone and returned with a back ache (no thanks to the wooden pews)?
- Or have you attended a church service that lasted 5 hours, of which only 30 minutes was used in preaching but thrice that time was used on collecting offerings and making announcements?
- Have you ever been to a school and wondered whether there are administrators there at all or they are too blind to see the classroom with the large crack in the wall?
- Have you been to a University hostel where there’s no regular supply of water or electricity?
I have. And I guess a couple of you, too, had!
I think it’s high time we returned to the question hanging in the air: the bank, the supermarket, the mall, the eatery…WHY ARE THOSE PLACES MORE COMFORTABLE…THAN HOME?
There’s just one singular answer I found in the course of that lecture on Administration: THE OWNERS HAD IT IN MIND TO MAKE THEIR CUSTOMERS COMFORTABLE. Or in fewer words, we can reduce it to this: THE OWNERS UNDERSTOOD THE VALUE OF “PEOPLE”!
What is a bank without customers? What’s a church without the congregation? What is a school without students? What’s an organization without humans? What is a world without men?
In Administration, be it in a church or a para-church organization, there are three kinds of resources:
But of the three, it’s obvious, HUMANS are the MOST IMPORTANT! As a matter of fact, that is probably the most popular principle in HR, but yet the most neglected principle in many of our organizations…even churches!
What is God’s perspective? Let’s also hang this in the air for a couple of minutes…
I saw this as someone’s facebook status update few minutes ago:
“About 56 corpers died in NYSC camp bauchi state in a bomb blast 14 mins ago”
I’m hoping that it’s not true. But even if it’s not, haven’t you noticed that we’re now quite familiar with such headlines? For days, we’ve watched the tragedy continue to unfold in the north and, if you are like me, you’ve wrestled with feelings of shock and disbelief…feelings that, over the last few months, have become all too familiar, all of a sudden.
A friend of mine just wrote a beautiful piece about that and titled it“So they think they can take OUR PEACE!” I think it will do you good to check it out here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/funmi-faloye/so-they-think-they-can-take-our-peace/10151914155825335?
We were barely into this new year when we had great drama over “Fuel Subsidy”. And only God knows how many bombs had erupted somewhere on our soil within that date and now. You’d think we had seen enough, but then came the plane crash (I learnt the airline that owned the plane knew that it was not in good condition).
Ain’t all these signs? Have we been patient to see the ensign on the mountain tops? Have we been quiet enough to distinctly pick the sound of the trumpet? “You find it easy enough to forecast the weather — why can’t you read the signs of the times?” Matthew 16:2-3 (MSG). Don’t you think we have something to learn from all this? Don’t you think God is sending us a message? I think so. There are some spiritual lessons that I think God would want us to learn through this tragedy. And I think it’s chiefly in symphony with the answer to the hanging question on the resources for administration: What is God’s perspective?
HUMAN BEINGS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY OTHER THING!
Have you listened to survivors and the victims alike? Have you noticed their words? No one laments a lost plasma television or bombed SUV. No church member runs through the streets after escaping a bomb blast saying, ‘My church’s cordless mic is burnt’ or ‘our pastor’s iPad is no more’. If they mourn, it is for the sake of PEOPLE lost. If they rejoice, it is for the sake of the PEOPLE saved. What was once most precious now means little; what we once ignored is now of eternal significance.
Could Jesus be reminding us, amidst all these happenings, the same chief lesson that I learnt in that Chuirch Administration class? That people matter more than possessions? Than finances and physical resources?
In a community where we have less quality than quantity, more abuse of humans than value for the same, could Christ be saying: “Respect humans, they matter most afterall”
What am I saying in essence? Stuff doesn’t matter; people do.
It’s high time churches understood that the reason they exist is because there are people! People to serve. People to be served. And if the people to serve are not valued and treated well, how will they reach out to the people to be served…optimally? “Church” is no longer as it was 50 years ago. If you are setting up one, then get your vision right…and your motives! Dear “church member”, if you can, help me tell your pastor to respect your time…and your money. Church is not a place to extort people! Church is not a place to “cage” people. Church should be where you belong…and the church “building” should be such that 4-year-olds should ask their Dads “Why can’t we live here?”
And schools. Hmmm…I lament at the status quo of the educational sector. But I rejoice at the future of the same. It has been structured as though “we’re doing you a favour by trying to give you some education, you better be grateful for whatever you find on ground”. What happened to “whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well”? Proprietors and proprietresses, if you are not capable of founding a school, why venture into it? What’s a school when the students/pupil it hopes to train are rather strained and exposed to things they would have been spared of if they chose to stay away? (lol). What happened to reaching that point where the students can chorus after school hours “Why can’t we live here?”. That will only happen when school becomes fun! When students look forward to getting the education the school is offering. And it’s possible!
I won’t attempt to talk about/to the government. A word will do: VALUE HUMANS! Governments only exist because there are PEOPLE to govern!
And you, Dear reader, know your worth! And when/if you have options, go for the one that celebrates your worth and value.
Unfortunately, on the other hand, we are people of both dignity and depravity. The main problem in the world is not Mother Nature, but human nature. We were born with “a me-first mentality“. You don’t have to teach your kids to argue. They don’t have to be trained to demand their way. You don’t have to show them how to stomp their feet and pout, it is their nature…indeed it is all of our nature to do so.
‘All of us have strayed like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own, ‘
(Isaiah 53:6). Strip away the police barricades, blow down the fences, and the real self is revealed. We are barbaric to the core. (Tell that to the Boko Harams).
Yes, we are people of both dignity and depravity, but the line between both ends is crossed only by CHOICE! Everyone knows, someone has to go in and clean up the mess. That is what God offers to do with us. He comes into sin-flooded lives and washes away the old. Paul reflected on his conversion and he wrote: ‘He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit,’ (Titus 3:5). Our sins stand no chance against the fire hoses of God’s grace.
“In the form of his Holy Spirit, God moves in and starts a complete renovation project. ‘God can do anything, you know–far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us, ‘ (Ephesians 3:20 MSG).
Make that choice, Dear, if you haven’t. Stop complaining about what you permit. Know your worth! And again, I’ll say it: when/if you have options, go for the one that celebrates your worth and value.
Ola Joseph Kolawole.